2:44PM JST: NikkanSports is reporting that both Shinnosuke Abe and Munenori Kawasaki have joined Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka in getting buzz cuts. Incidentally, I've also updated the Yu Darvish Buzz Cut thread with some more information.
3:05PM JST: SportsNavi is reporting that 27-year-old lefty Tsuyoshi Wada will be making the start for Japan tonight against Korea. Wada throws a fastball in the 146km/h range along with a change-up, slider, and forkball.
Here are his numbers from his current season with the Hawks:
G W L CG IP BF H HR BB HBP SO WP BK ER R ERA
17 8 4 2 116.2 487 117 10 29 1 83 3 0 49 49 3.78
The article is also reporting that Kwang-Hyun Kim is getting the nod for Korea. From what I can gather, Kim is a 20-year-old lefty that throws a fastball that can touch 150km/h, a slider, a forkball, and curve. Kim also apparently has a nasty change that is hard to pick up.
8:10PM JST: Sports Hochi is reporting that Masahiro Araki will be starting instead of Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Nishioka is nursing what I think is a right hamstring pull.
1st AB: strikeout
2nd AB: strikeout
3rd AB: single up the middle
4th AB: single to left
39 Jong-Wook Lee LF 23 Norichika Aoki CF
29 Taek-Keun Lee CF 2 Masahiro Araki 2B
8 Keun-Woo Jeong 2B 3 Hiroyuki Nakajima SS
25 Seung-Yuop Lee 1B 25 Takahiro Arai 1B
18 Dong-Joo Kim 3B 41 Atsunori Inaba RF
10 Dae-Ho Lee DH 55 Shuichi Murata 3B
35 Jin-Young Lee RF 10 Shinnosuke Abe C
20 Kab-Yong Jin C 46 GG Sato LF
14 Min-Jae Kim SS 22 Tomoya Satozaki DH
Top of the 1st
First pitch: 8:02PM JST.
Jong-Wook Lee is caught looking at strike three.
Taek-Keun Lee strikes out swinging.
Keun-Woo Jeong grounds out to third.
Bottom of the 1st
Norichika Aoki strikes out swinging.
Masahiro Araki strikes out swinging.
Hiroyuki Nakajima grounds out to short.
Top of the 2nd
Seung-Yuop Lee flies out to center.
Dong-Joo Kim grounds out to short.
Dae-Ho Lee strikes out swinging.
Bottom of the 2nd
Takahiro Arai grounds out to short.
Atsunori Inaba flies out to left.
Shuichi Murata hits a one hopper back to the mound for the final out of the inning.
Top of the 3rd
Jin-Young Lee hits a single up the middle.
Kab-Yong Jin bunts back to the pitcher, Wada throws to second for the force.
Min-Jae Kim strikes out swinging.
J.K. Lee singles to left. Runners on first and second with 2 outs.
T.K. Lee flies out to center for the final out.
Bottom of the 3rd
Shinnosuke Abe is caught looking for strike three.
GG Sato grounds out to third.
Tomoya Satozaki strikes out swinging.
Japan has yet to get a hit off Kim. Kim's throwing a really nice game so far. Through 3 innings he has thrown 46 pitches (13, 15, 18) and has 4 strike outs. Japan has managed to make Kim throw pitches -- 5 batters have made Kim throw 6 or more pitches.
Top of the 4th
Jeong pops the ball up near first... Arai and Araki are converging... Araki makes the catch!
S.Y. Lee strikes out looking.
D.J. Kim serves it into right for a 2-out single.
D.H. Lee singles up the middle, runners on first and second, 2 out.
J.Y. Lee flies out to center for the final out of the inning.
Second time through the line-up, it appears as though Korea is seeing the ball better. Wada threw 23 pitches that inning. Through 4 he has thrown 54 pitches. It will be interesting to see how Japan does against Kim in the bottom of the fourth.
Bottom of the 4th
Aoki strikes out swinging.
Araki drops a bunt, but it's right back to the pitcher. 2 outs.
Nakajima walks on 7 pitches.
Arai hits a seeing-eye single up the middle, Nakajima to third.
Inaba strikes out swinging.
Kim threw 22 pitches that inning. He has now thrown 68 pitches.
Top of the 5th
Jin grounds out to first.
M.J. Kim pops out to second.
J.W. Lee strikes out looking.
Bottom of the 5th
Murata tries to check his swing and can't, strike three.
Abe pops out to the first baseman in foul territory.
Sato doubles to left with 2 outs.
Satozaki grounds out to third for the final out.
Kim appears to be losing a little velocity and movement on his pitches. Is he beginning to tire? He's at 79 pitches.
Top of the 6th
T.K. Lee strikes out swinging.
Jeong strikes out swinging.
S.Y. Lee strikes out looking.
Through 6 innings, Wada has thrown 79 pitches. He'll probably pitch one more inning to make way for perhaps Fujikawa in the 8th and Uehara in the 9th?
Bot of the 6th
Aoki singles up the middle.
Araki bunts Aoki over to second, 1 out.
Pitching change: Suk-Min Yoon comes in for Kim
Nakajima flies out to center.
Arai drives one to DEEP left... Back goes J.W. Lee, back to the track, back to the wall, looking up... See ya! 2-run homer, Arai!
Inaba flies out to left.
Kim is pulled from the game after throwing 83 pitches.
Kim's final line: 5.1 IP, 7 K, 3 H, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 ER
Top of the 7th
D.J. Kim walks on 5 pitches.
D.H. Lee drills one to deep left... See ya! 2-run homer for Lee to tie the game at 2.
J.Y. Lee strikes out swinging.
Jin grounds out to short.
Pitching change: Kenshin Kawakami comes in for Wada
M.J. Kim flies out to right.
Wada didn't look too comfortable to start the inning. And walking the lead-off hitter on 5 pitches isn't the way to start the inning after your team gives you 2 runs. Wada was removed after throwing 106 pitches.
Wada's final line: 6.2 IP, 10 K, 5 H, 1 HR, 1 BB, 2 ER
Bottom of the 7th
Murata grounds out to second.
Abe lines out to first.
Sato strikes out swinging.
Top of the 8th
J.W. Lee flies out to left.
T.K. Lee drops a single into center with 1 out.
Pinch runner: Yong-Kyu Lee comes in for T.K. Lee
Jeong hits a broken bat dribbler to short, Nakajima fields, fires... Jeong dives into first... OUT! Runner on second with 2 outs.
Pinching change: Hitoki Iwase comes in for Kawakami
S.Y. Lee strikes out swinging.
Bottom of the 8th
Satozaki strikes out swinging.
Aoki serves one into left for a single.
Araki bunts Aoki over to second, 2 outs.
Nakajima flies out to the first baseman in foul territory for the final out of the inning.
Top of the 9th
D.J. Kim hits a long single to left.
D.H. Lee lays down a bunt! Iwase fields, bobbles, throws to first, in time for the first out of the inning. D.J. Kim moves over to second.
J.Y. Lee flies out to left.
Jin walks on 8 pitches.
Pinch hitter: Hyun-Soo Kim comes in for M.J. Kim
H.S. Kim dunks a single in front of Aoki. D.J. Kim rounds third, the throw into home is not in time. 1 run scores! Runners on first and third, 2 out.
J.W. Lee in the box. H.S. Kim steals second on the 1-0 count. J.W. Lee pops up a bunt, but no one is there to field it. Jin comes around to score. Runners on first and third, 2 out.
Y.K. Lee in the box. J.W. Lee takes off from first on the 1-2 count, Abe throws to second, but it's bad throw! H.S. Kim comes around to score. Runner on second, two out. Y.K. Lee strikes out swinging.
Now I'm not sure why Iwase wasn't yanked as soon as he walked Jin, but regardless, that inning was the worst showing from Japan so far this Olympics.
Bottom of the 9th
Pinching change: Ki-Joo Han comes in for Yoon
Arai hits a triple to right.
Inaba hits a hot shot to third, bobbled and dropped. Arai comes around to score. Inaba safe at first.
Murata hits a double to right. Inaba stops at third. Runners on second and third with no out.
Pinching change: Hyuk Kwon comes in for Han
Pinch runner: Tsuyoshi Nishioka comes in for Murata
Abe flies out to shallow left.
Pinching change: Taeh-Yon Chong comes in for Kwon
Sato strikes out trying to check his swing.
Pinch hitter: Masahiko Morino comes in for Satozaki
Morino grounds out to third for the final out of the inning.
Game over, Korea beats Japan, 5-3.
Post Game Notes
This was a disappointing loss for Japan. Up 2-0 going into the top of the 7th, I would have been extremely careful pitching to D.H. Lee. In fact, I may have even called on the bullpen because Wada had just walked the first batter up.
But the worst offense (no pun intended) took place in the top of the 9th. Iwase had thrown 6 pitches to get the final out of the 8th. He was on 14 pitches when Jin stepped into the box. Iwase ended up walking him on 8 pitches, in a very tough at bat. At this point, I probably would have opted to go to the bullpen for someone like Fujikawa (he didn't pitch last night and tomorrow is an off day). But Honshino stuck with Iwase and from there things fell apart.
Would bringing in someone else at this point have stopped Korea from scoring? No guarantees, but I think Japan could have at least come out of the inning giving up fewer than the 3 runs they did.
All that said, there were some bright spots in the game. Other than the 2-run homer that Wada gave up, he was fairly dominant, striking out 10 batters in 6.2 innings... Takahiro Arai appears to be riding a nice little streak right now. After going 2-for-4 with 2 rbi's against the Netherlands on Friday, he went 3-for-4 with 2 more rbi's against Korea tonight.... Norichika Aoki also continues to hit well and after going 2-for-4 tonight, is now 7-for-16 overall (his .438 BA is good for 6th in Olympic play so far).
Tsuyoshi Nishioka entered the game as a pinch runner, so it would seem his injury isn't as severe as I initially thought. Losing one middle infielder (Munenori Kawasaki) is tough but losing two would be even tougher.
Looking ahead, Japan has 3 more games remaining before the next round.
8/18 - Japan vs. Canada
8/19 - Japan vs. China
8/20 - Japan vs. US
Based on how the rotation has worked out so far, Yu Darvish will probably get the call against Canada, Hideaki Wakui against China, and Sugiuchi against the US.
During the game, the announcers mentioned that Senichi Hoshino and the rest of the coaches figured that Japan could lose up to 2 games and still make the next round. Well, they've hit 2 losses with 3 more games to go. I won't say it's impossible, but they'll need to continue getting strong performances out of their starters.