...Seiichi Uchikawa's comment on his home run against Korea:
"That was maybe a shot that maybe happens once a year for me. Utsumi and I are the same year and I just wanted to do something for him. ... We had lost 2 game to Korea so I wanted to do something to help the team win."
...Shuichi Murata has a torn right hamstring that will sideline him for at least 3 weeks. It seems he also won't be ready for opening day (March 3rd against the Chunichi Dragons).
Said Murata, "We get this far into the tournament and I have to leave like this? I think I did my best for Japan. The pain is so intense I need crutches in order to walk. I'm just so disappointed in this outcome. ... I really hope that the team can continue playing together as one to win it all."
...Ichiro Suzuki was raving about Norichika Aoki's bunt to start things off in the 8th. Said Suzuki, "That was all brains and skill. Amazing. He's really a great player."
...Norichika Aoki now owns .393 batting average, second best amongst players from the four teams that have advanced to the Semifinals. Kenji Johjima is tied with Korea's Bum Ho Lee for third with a .375 average. Venezuela's Jose Lopez sits at the top with his lofty .500 average (10-for-20).
...Kenji Johjima is said to have tossed his batting gloves to a young fan sitting behind Japan's dugout during practice before the Japan / Korea game.
After tossing the glove to the kid, Johjima also apparently shouted out, "You better not sell that glove on the net!"
...Samurai Japan earned $400,000 with their victory against Korea.
- Eliminated in First Round = $300,00
- First Round Champion Bonus = $300,000
- Eliminated in Second Round = $700,000
- Second Round Champion Bonus = $400,000
- Semifinals loss = $1.2M
- Finals loss = $1.7M
- Finals win = $2.7M
...Korean paper Chosun is reporting that Korean fans are taking their team's loss in stride by saying things like, "Facing Venezuela is better than facing a strong US team at home" and "Getting a day off before the Finals game will help the team."
TV ratings for the Japan / Korea game in Seoul supposedly came in at about 19%. The third game they played came in at 21.1%.
...Fan reactions on the fourth match-up:
"They've met a lot of times, I think the system needs a little tweaking. I still get up for the game, but each additional match-up takes away from the excitement. I'm hoping it'll be different teams for the Finals."
Korean reporter for the Korea Daily Sports
"Games against Japan are always heated. If it's these two teams in the Finals, I'm sure more than 20,000 Korean fans will show up at the game."
...Katsuya Nomura was watching the game yesterday and shared his comments during the game.
Tanaka enters the game
"Come on Ma-kun! Clean-up hitter from the start. Don't think too much. These guys (the batters) aren't thinking about anything either."
After Tanaka's first strike out
"Hmm... He's getting the ball up there pretty good, but it seems like they're too much down the middle. That's not a good sign."
After Japan wasting a perfect opportunity to score in the 7th
"Pitiful. I wanted to see something happen there. I've got a bad feeling. Something bad is going to happen."
On Tanaka being a "Son of God"
"I wonder if God has gone to America. The economy isn't so good maybe he won't get his traveling costs reimbursed."
Tanaka gives up the game tying home run
"If you throw a number of balls using off-speed / breaking pitches, the batter is going to start looking for the fastball. They pitched to the batter's rhythm..."