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2008 Olympics Baseball Stats

by on Jan.15, 2009 @ 1:26 am, under Other

I'm not sure how many people will be interested in this, but I thought I'd throw it up anyway.

SimCentral.NET 2008 Beijing Olympics - Baseball

I actually got started on this mini project shortly after the Olympics started, but got a little sidetracked with some other things and just not finally got around to getting it to at least look somewhat presentable.

Like I said, I'm not sure how many people will find the information interesting, but I thought that with the WBC coming it, there might be some useful information people can glean from it.

If there's something you'd like to see me add, let me know and I'll see what I can do. The information is still online at the official Beijing Olympics site so I can still grab more data if need be.

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NPB Roundup for 11/27: Loss at the Olympics = Not enough fight – Hoshino

by on Nov.26, 2008 @ 5:20 pm, under NPB
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Sanspo: Samurai Japan lost out on a potential clean-up when it was found that Hideki Matsui wouldn't be able to participate. The coaching staff is now looking at other candidates and two names have been mentioned so far: Shuichi Murata and Nobuhiko Matsunaka.

Sanspo: Senichi Hoshino submits his report on the Olympics to the JOC. In it, he cites a weakness in fighting spirit and a lack of international game experience as reasons for losing. In comparing Team Japan with Korea: "We were spiritually weaker [than Korea]. It isn't that they weren't trying hard enough, but I think in the end, the team that wanted it more won." He also said, "The more opportunities we give our players to play on the international stage, the better our chances will be moving forward to succeed in international competition. ... I look forward to seeing our players regain their composure from the loss at the Olympics and rising to the occasion [at the WBC]."

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Why Japan lost out on a medal for baseball at the Olympics

by on Aug.25, 2008 @ 12:40 pm, under Other

It's been a couple of days since Japan lost to the US for the Bronze at the Olympics. News programs are finally begining to pick up on the headlines, but most of the focus has been on the softball team winning the Gold. If not for Yukiko Ueno's brilliant performance (3 complete games in 2 days and 413 pitches thrown), Senichi Hoshino would probably be getting a lot more negative press. It might do Hoshino well to take the entire softball team out to dinner for taking some of the load off his shoulders.

Senichi Hoshino answering questions at a
press conference after returning to Japan.

But here's the million dollar question: why did Japan lose when most of the Japanese media were predicting a medal?

A bigger baseball?
I'm not really buying this, but Koji Uehara was quoted as saying that the bigger ball put Japanese players at a disadvantage. Uehara also mentioned that the Korean leagues switched to the International standard baseball at some point (this year?) in order to ensure that their players would be ready for the Olympics. But pitching, on the whole, wasn't necessarily the problem, so I'm not even sure why Uehara would mention larger balls being a problem. But if there was one player that might have an argument, it would be G.G. Sato.

G.G. Sato isn't a gold glove calibre outfielder by any stretch of the imagination, but he did commit two fairly big errors on fairly routine plays in back-to-back games against Korea and the US. In defense of Sato, he's a right fielder by trade so he may have had a hard time adjusting to the angles from left field, as well as reading the wind patterns. But 3 errors in 6 games is still too many to make during a short tournament where every single play can affect the outcome.

Ultimately, this sounds more like an excuse rather than a legitimate reason for failure. Maybe I'm being a bit harsh, but if bigger baseballs were a cause for defeat at Beijing, then what happened at the World Baseball Classic?

A wider strikezone?
The announcers (and later on, analysts) pointed to the strikezone as being problematic for Japanese players. I think that for the most part, the pitchers were able to capitalize on the wider zones, as evidenced by the team's league leading 94 strikeouts in 78 inning, which works out to a 10.8 K/9. The only other team that came close to that was Taipei at 8.9 K/9.

One analyst did make an interesting point regarding the strikezone and how Japanese pitchers had to pitch in the later games. I don't really remember the pitch sequences all that well, but apparently Japanese pitchers couldn't be as aggressive inside during the final few days of the tournament because of a fear of giving up the long ball. But the long ball wasn't really a problem for Japan (5 HR in 78 innings). (Or perhaps it wasn't a problem because they weren't pitching inside that much?)

IMHO, the bigger issue was giving up walks in key situations. The pitching staff as a whole didn't struggle from this problem (26 walks in 78 IP for a 3 BB/9), but pitchers like Yu Darvish (5 walks in 7 IP; 1 scored), Tsuyoshi Wada (4 walks in 9.1 IP; 2 scored), and Kenshin Kawakami (4 walks in 7.2 IP; 1 scored) did. It seems as though they were nibbling a bit too much, or going after corners the umps just weren't giving them.

Similar to the bigger baseball theory, I don't think this carries much weight. These are professional players, they need to be able to make adjustments. The pitchers appeared to do that fairly well. The batters, on the other hand, seemed to struggle. It's never really a good thing when your offense walks 24 times and strikes out 58 times. Nor is it ever a good thing when your team grounds into 9 double plays in 9 games. You'd think that with some many GIDP's, Hoshino would have excuted more hit and runs, or tried stealing more bases (as a whole, the roster was somewhat slow).

Bad roster choices?
Both Atsunori Inaba and Munenori Kawasaki were nursing minor injuries before making the trek out to Beijing. And I believe that this is one of the reasons why Hoshino loaded the roster with 5 middle infielders. But that still doesn't explain why he decided to stick with Kawasaki. Perhaps it's hindsight 20/20, but Kawasaki ended up eating a potentially important roster spot for most of the tournament -- he played in only 3 games. And because Japan carried 5 middle infielders (Masahiro Araki 2B, Hiroyuki Nakajima SS, Tsuyoshi Nishioka SS, Munenori Kawasaki SS, Shinya Miyamoto SS), to go along with 2 corner infielders, 3 catchers and 4 outfielders, it meant they could only carry 10 pitchers.

Speaking of Shinya Miyamoto -- why was he even on the final roster. Don't get me wrong, I love the guy. He's a veteran presence and brings a lot of experience to the table. With a relatively young team (13 of the 24 players on the roster were born after 1978), Hoshino may have felt that his presence would be good to have, but was his presence important enough to take up a roster spot? Miyamoto also only ended up appearing in 3 games, only once as a starter.

And what was the deal with carrying 3 catchers? And I'm still not sure what Shinnosuke Abe and Tomoya Satozaki were doing appearing in 3 games (between the two of them) as DH's. Again, it all goes back to the 5 middle infielders. If Hoshino didn't carry 5 middle infielders, carrying 3 catchers wouldn't be as much of a problem. But without enough hitters on the bench, Hoshino had to resort to using Abe and Satozaki as DH's. Ridiculous if you ask me, since neither are really that outstanding with the bat.

I was also a little surprised with Shuichi Murata and G.G. Sato making the final cut. While both players have a lot of pop in their bats, they are somewhat prone to striking out (they combined for 14 strikeouts in 43 at bats and managed only 6 hits between the two of them) and appear to be, at least to me, quite streaky. Perhaps if the Olympics had caught Murata and Sato when they were hot, the results may have been different, but unfortunately for Japan and Hoshino, that was not the case.

So who could have been included on the roster instead?

Toshiaki Imae, Michihiro Ogasawara, Kenta Kurihara may have been an interesting options at third.
Norihiro Akahoshi, Nobuhiko Matsunaka and (I can't even believe I'm saying this) Hichori Morimoto may have been interesting options for the outfield.

All 6 of these players were on the original list that was presented back in April. Why they were skipped over, I'm not quite sure. And out of these 6 players, Morimoto may have actually been the most interesting option because of his quirkiness -- he may have actually been able to keep the team loose with his silly antics -- and his speed.

Imae and Matsunaka were both on the WBC rosters.

The other problem was the team carrying only 10 pitchers, 7 of them starters and 3 of them closers.

Pitching staff?
This is probably the area that bothered and confused me the most. And the three biggest questions that popped into my mind were: 1) what happened to Yu Darvish; 2) why was Hoshino so enamored with Hitoki Iwase; and 3) why did Hoshino choose 3 closers and 7 starters?

I'm not exactly sure what happened to Darvish, but going into the tournament Hoshino labeled him as the ace of the staff. And yet he only made three appearances (2 starts). Assuming a "four days rest" schedule, Darvish should have made a start against Canada on the 18th, but instead Yoshihisa Naruse did. Wakui started the next game, 4 days after his start against Taipei. Darvish didn't make a start until the 20th, giving him 6 full days of rest. According to some reports, he wasn't very effective against the US (I didn't watch the game so I can't really comment), but was it really necessary to remove him after 2 scoreless innings, 3 strikeouts, and 34 pitches?

Incidentally, here's how the pitching order ended up working out: Darvish, Wakui, Sugiuchi, Wada, off-day, Naruse, Wakui, Darvish, off-day, Sugiuchi, and then Wada.

Hoshino called on Iwase 4 times and gave up 10 runs (7 earned) in 4.2 IP. And just for reference, I've included Koji Uehara and Kyuji Fujikawa's appearances as well.

Hitoki Iwase (33)
DATE  IP   H  2B  HR  K  BB  ER  R
8/14  1.0  1   0   0  1  0    0  0
8/16  1.1  3   0   0  2  1    2  3
8/20  2.0  3   0   0  3  0    3  4
8/22  0.1  3   0   1  1  0    2  3

Koji Uehara (33)
DATE  IP   H  2B  HR  K  BB  ER  R
8/14  1.0  0   0   0  1   0   0  0
8/18  1.0  0   0   0  0   0   0  0

Kyuji Fujikawa (28)
DATE  IP   H  2B  HR  K  BB  ER  R
8/13  1.0  0   0   0  0   0   0  0
8/14  1.0  0   0   0  3   0   0  0
8/18  1.0  0   0   0  2   0   0  0
8/22  1.0  2   0   0  2   1   1  1

Iwase getting shelled against the US.

Unless something was hidden from the media, I'm not quite sure why Uehara wasn't used more often. That said, I (too?) was a little skeptical about Uehara's health and that may have ultimately kept Hoshino from calling on him more. But if you have that concern, why even select him? And that doesn't really even explain Fujikawa's usage.

While Fujikawa did give up a run in his final performance, he was pretty much lights out for most of the tournament. I'm guessing that he probably could have pitched in a couple more games without any major problems. For those interested, he has pitched on consecutive days 8 times during the NPB season in 2008: 3/28, 3/29; 4/1, 4/2; 4/8, 4/9; 4/12, 4/13; 4/23, 4/24; 5/14, 5/15; 5/24, 5/25, 5/26; 7/1, 7/2, 7/3. And prior to being pulled from the NPB for the Olympics, he had appeared in 44 of his teams 93 games.

If there was concern about over-using Fujikawa and Uehara, then the question ultimately becomes: why didn't Hoshino select a couple of middle relievers that could throw back-to-back days? Or at least pick starters who have spent some time in the bullpen within the last couple of years?

If there was one pitcher other than Iwase that Hoshino didn't seem to worried about using on a fairly regular basis, it was Kawakami. And up until his last appearance, he was actually quite effective. But by his last outing, I think Kawakami was feeling pretty drained. In total, he tossed 7.2 innings over 5 games and threw a total 148 pitches, which doesn't include getting up and down in the bullpen to warm-up.

Kenshin Kawakami (33)
DATE  IP   H  2B  HR  K  BB  ER  R  P
8/15  1.0  0  0   0   0   0   0  0  9
8/16  1.0  1  0   0   0   0   0  0  18
8/20  2.0  0  0   0   3   2   0  0  50
8/22  1.1  0  0   0   2   1   0  0  23
8/23  2.1  4  2   1   1   1   4  4  48

Not having an 11th pitcher may have actually hurt Japan somewhat, especially if Hoshino did have a problem with using Darvish and Uehara. Going into the tournament, I think if you had said that Darvish would only end up throwing 7 innings and Uehara 2 innings, no one would have believed you.

Turning Point
If there was one defining moment where I think things really started to fall apart for Japan, it was the loss against Korea. I don't know if there was some sort of rule Hoshino was following, but the initial thought was that Iwase would be used in the 7th, Fujikawa in the 8th, and Uehara in the 9th (or at the very least, some combination of the three for the final 2-3 innings). Neither Fujikawa nor Uehara pitched in the previous night's game, so the assumption (at least for me) was that after Kawakami pitched into the 8th, it would be Fujikawa to finish off the 8th and Uehara to close out the 9th. Instead, Iwase was brought in and lost the game in the 9th.

Japan did manage to re-group and beat Canada and China in their next two games, but neither of those two starts featured the supposed ace of the staff. Whether or not this had any effect on the team, I'm not sure. But when your manager goes into a tournament talking about how great the ace of the rotation is and then only uses him 3 times (twice as a starter with one start lasting only 2 innings)... Well, it can't look good from the player's perspective -- you've basically given up on your ace, the one man everyone was relying on. And if there were any confidence issues with Darvish after he was knocked around against Cuba, they were probably only compounded by a manager that was faltering on when to use him next.

Darvish's 1 inning appearance against the US in the finals

Maybe it's just me, but even with those victories against Canada and China, it was around this time that it seemed as though the team wasn't functioning as a unit anymore. I'm guessing that Uehara also wasn't too happy with the lack of appearances -- his game against Canada was actually the last time he stepped on the mound. Prior to the Olympics, Hoshino also spoke about how he believed Uehara would be an important part of the team, and yet all he did was use him twice for 2 innings. 2 innings of effective relief at that.

I'll close this article with the following translation I've done on an article I read posted by Sports Hochi. (If someone can find the complete interview in Japanese, I'd be more than happy to translate it.)

Managers Sadaharu Oh and Katsuya Nomura on baseball at the Olympics
Sadaharu Oh and Katsuya Nomura had some time to talk to the press after one of their games was recently rained out.

Katsuya Nomura: Too bad about the Olympics.

Sadaharu Oh: Yes, it really is too bad. Not much can be done though. But it's a difficult tournament. One loss and everything is over.

Nomura: Getting together a good group of members can be tough. The 3, 4, and 5 batters in the lineup really need to be on the top of their game.

Oh: But first time match-ups can be tought for the batters, even though hitters from other countries were able to hit our pitchers pretty hard. Even my pitchers (Wada and Sugiuchi) were hit pretty hard.

<In a prior interview, Nomura mentioned that the advanced scouting reports weren't used enough and that they were wasted pearls of wisdom. He went on to say that picking a group of close friends to make up the roster was also a mistake. I'm guessing that he means the players weren't pushing each other enough. Nomura also made sure to mention that an ex-pitcher like Hoshino can't know what it's like to be a positional player. I think he was making a stab at Hoshino's inability to choose the appropriate positional players for the final roster.>

Oh: The opponents weren't swinging at any pitches out of the zone. They had really good eyes. A good batting eye is really important.

Nomura: It seemed as though there were quite a few batters that didn't step into the ball to hit.

Oh: It's almost like they just pulled off on the ball and still got distance.

Nomura: Their muscles are different. (Our bodies are different.)

Oh: It's difficult for starters to make relief appearances. It's also difficult to select good middle relievers. And the fact that you only have room for 24 players on the roster makes things harder.

Nomura: The youngsters these days don't know how to suck it up. They foul a ball off their leg and take 10 days off. Back when I played, I didn't want to give up my position to anyone so I played through broken bones.

Oh: We happen to have the most career NPB game appearances (Nomura 3,017 games and Oh 2,831 games) so we're pretty durable. But there are players that are weak when it comes to pain.

Nishioka (7) and Araki (2) after losing to Korea in the semi-finals.

Baseball @ the Olympics: Japan beats China 10-0 (called game)

by on Aug.19, 2008 @ 2:59 am, under Other

Pre-Game Notes

With China and Taipei both losing yesterday, Japan only needs one more win in order to advance to the next round.

3:56PM JST: SportsNavi is reporting that Hideaki Wakui might get the call to start for Japan today.

In his start against Taipei, Wakui tossed 6 innings while giving up a run on 3 hits (2 doubles) and 2 walks and struck out 6.

6:50PM JST: Sports Hochi is reporting that Yano will get his first start of the Olympics. Tsuyoshi Nishioka will also be in the lineup as the DH.


Aoki Watch
1st AB: ground out to second
2nd AB: ground out to second
3rd AB: fielder's choice
4th AB: walk (!)

Staring Lineups CHINA JAPAN 1 Lingfeng Sun CF 23 Norichika Aoki CF 16 Fenglian Hou DH 2 Masahiro Araki 2B 88 Fei Feng RF 3 Hiroyuki Nakajima SS 9 Yufeng Zhang SS 25 Takahiro Arai 1B 2 Yang Yang C 41 Atsunori Inaba RF 6 Lei Li 2B 55 Shuichi Murata 3B 7 Wei Sun 3B 46 G.G. Sato LF 25 Chao Wang LF 39 Akihiro Yano C 13 Yubing Jia 1B 7 Tsuyoshi Nishioka DH

Top of the 1st

Lingfeng Sun is caught looking at strike three.

Fenglian Hou strikes out swinging.

Fei Feng grounds out to first.

Bottom of the 1st

Norichika Aoki grounds out to second.

Masahiro Araki grounds out to second.

Hiroyuki Nakajima pops-out to the shortstop.

Observations: Korea is looking pretty tough out there as they beat Cuba. Japan really had a good shot at beating them the other day. Now Korea appears to be riding a fairly strong hot streak and in a short series, it might be difficult to knock them off.

Top of the 2nd

Yufeng Zhang grounds out to short.

Yang Yang grounds out to the pitcher for the second out.

Lei Li strikes out swinging.

Bottom of the 2nd

Takahiro Arai flies out to center.

Atsunori Inaba walks on 5 pitches.

Shuichi Murata strikes out swinging. Inaba steals second.

G.G. Sato drills one to deep right. It bounces off the wall. Inaba rounds third and scores. Sato into second with a double.

Akihiro Yano hits one over the right fielder's head, the ball will roll to the wall. Sato scores from second, Yano into second with a double.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka pulls one through the left side into left field. Yano rounds third and crosses the plate. Nishioka with an RBI single.

Aoki steps into the box. Nishioka is running, the pitcher throws over to first. It looks like China has him out. Throw over to first, the throw is high, stolen base for Nishioka. Aoki grounds out to second.

Yano hitting a double

Observations: Japan's offense is looking pretty lifeless right now. ... Nan Wang appears to top out at about 130km/h ... Murata is now 2-for-18 with 6 strikeouts ... Wouldn't you know it, minutes after posting that Japan's offense was looking lifeless, they go and score 3 runs.

Top of the 3rd

Wei Sun grounds out to second.

Chao Wang grounds out to second.

Yubing Jia grounds out to short.

Observations: It'll be important for Wakui to start this inning strong. Don't want to give up a lead-off runner after Japan just scored 3 runs. ... Nice inning by Wakui, three up, three down.

Bottom of the 3rd

Araki walks on 5 pitches.

Nakajima up to bat. Araki steals second with the count 3-2. Nakajima walks on 7 pitches. Pretty nice at bat for Nakajima.

Pinching change: Lv Jiangang comes in for Wang

Arai bounces back to the pitcher. Jiangang throws to second for the first out. Li throws over to first for the second out. Double play. Araki moves over to third.

Inaba rockets one back up the middle. Araki comes around to score. Inaba with a double.

Pinching change: Guoqiang Sun comes in for Jiangang

Murata is hit by a pitch. Runners on first and second with 2 out.

Sato flies out to deep center. The center fielder almost dropped that... Not sure if he lost the ball or if the ball just kept carrying.

Inaba hitting a run scoring double.

Observations: Wow, it looked like Araki watched at least 2 pitches go by him that were strikes ... China has 12 pitches on their roster ... Another GIDP for Japan gives them 6 over 6 games.

Top of the 4th

L. Sun grounds out to second.

Hou hits a grounder to semi-deep short. Fielded their by Nakajima, throw to first, not in time. Infield single.

Feng grounds to second, toss to Nakajima for the first out, on to first, double play. Inning over.

Observations: Lingfeng Sun's speed has been compared to Ichiro by the Japanese media.

Bottom of the 4th

Yano grounds out to the pitcher.

Nishioka drops a bunt, the catcher fields, throw to first, not in time. Infield hit.

Aoki hits a grounder to third. Throw over to second for one, on to first, not in time. Fielder's choice.

Araki grounds out to third for the final out.

Observations: Nishioka appears to be able to run at full speed ... Nishioka went hard into Lei Li to break-up the double-play. Li was on the ground for a while, but it appears he's alright. ... Aoki looks like he's struggling a bit at the plate. He is now 0 for his last 7.

Top of the 5th

Zhang grounds out to first, unassisted.

Yang grounds out to first.

Li strikes out swinging.

Observations: In Japanese, Yang Yang is pronounce, Yo Yo. Go figure. ... Li's strikeout was Wakui 4th strikeout in 5 frames.

Bottom of the 5th

Nakajima is hit by a pitch.

Arai steps into the batter's box. Nakajima is off on the 2-2 pitch and steals second. Arai is hit by a pitch. Runners on first and second, no out.

Inaba hits a little bloop to third, dropped but quickly recovered. W. Sun runs over and steps on third, throw to second, double play. Inaba at first.

Murata dribbles one to the pitcher, throw over to first for the final out of the inning.

Observations: It's a little strange seeing Jim Lefebvre and Steven Ontiveros over in the China dugout ... Sun is looking pretty wild out there right now ... Mound visit with Ontiveros ... Murata looks lost out there.

Top of the 6th

Defensive change: Masahiko Morino comes in for Murata at third.

W. Sun flies out to the second baseman.

Wang lines out to second.

Jia strikes out looking.

Bottom of the 6th

Sato grounds out to third.

Yano walks on 5 pitches.

Nishioka in the batter's box. On the 2-0 count, pass ball by the catcher. Yano rounds second and coasts into third. Looks like the catcher was calling a timeout but the ump never made it official. Nishioka drives one down the right field line. Fair or foul?! Fair ball, 2-run homer by Nishioka!

Pitching change: Kai Liu comes in for Sun

Aoki walks on 8 pitches.

Araki in the batter's box. Aoki starts, Araki hits the ball through the hole for a single. Runners on first and third with 1 out.

Nakajima in the box. Liu bounces the ball, Araki on the run, steals second. 1 out, runners on second and third. Nakajima hits one to deep left, off the wall. Aoki and Araki score. Nakajima into second with a double.

Arai hits one into deep right. Nakajima comes around to score. Arai coasts into second with a double.

Pinching change: Youhua Guo comes in for Liu

Inaba singles to right. Arai scores from second.

Morino strikes out swinging.

Sato in the batter's box. Pass ball by the catcher, Inaba to second with two out. Sato pops out to the shortstop.

Nishioka hitting a 2-run homer

Observations: Sun almost hits Nishioka ... Nishioka hit Sun's 3-1 pitch for a homerun -- must have felt good after almost getting hit. ... Nice at bat by Aoki as he fouled off 4 pitches to get the walk ... Ontiveros doesn't look very happy in the dugout ... Shinya Miyamoto might come in for Morino as he scrounges around for his glove. Probably as a defensive change as Morino is in the box ... Japan has batted around this inning ... Lefebvre's not looking very happy in the dugout either .... Morino is now 0 for his last 8.

Top of the 7th

L. Sun singles through the left side (the ball went under Morino and Nakajima's glove).

Hou grounds to Araki. Throw over to second for the first out, on to first, double play!

Feng strikes out swinging.

Observations: Miyamoto has not come into the game. He was warming up his arm so it seemed like he was getting ready to come into the game. ... Let's see if L. Sun tries to steal, now that he's on base ... If Japan doesn't allow China to score this inning, the game will be called. ... Araki's throw to Nakajima was a bit high, but Nakajima did a nice job re-gaining his balance to make a strong throw to first to complete the double play.

Game over, Japan beats China, 10-0. Japan secures a spot in the next round.

Post Game Notes

Looks like Japan's offense might be getting hot at just the right time. But not everyone appears to be catching fire. Murata and Morino both appear to be mired in slumps. Aoki also appears to be in something of a slump, but he had a nice last AB, fouling off four pitching.

With Wakui going tonight, it would seem Yu Darvish will get the start against the US.

Hoshino's Interview
What are your thoughts right now.
Just need to continue taking games one at a time.

What did you think about the game?
It was a 7 inning game so it'll give our players a chance to rest up a little.

About the game against the US?
We'll go for the win.

Baseball @ the Olympics: Japan beats Canada 1-0

by on Aug.17, 2008 @ 10:07 pm, under Other

Pre-Game Notes

11:05AM JST: SportsNavi is reporting that Yoshihisa Naruse will get the start against Canada. Tomoya Satozaki will behind the plate as Shinnosuke Abe DH's.

Naruse is the left-handed ace for the Chiba Lotte Marines. He can throw a fastball, slider, change, fork, curve, and screwball, although he tends to rely mainly on his fastball, change, and slider. Naruse isn't really a strikeout pitcher and needs to have his control in order to be effective. He lead the league with a 1.82 ERA and winning percentage (16-1, .941) last season but hasn't been quite as effective this season. I'm actually a little surprised Hoshino is going with Naruse since this really is a must-win game for Japan. The only thing I can think of is that Canada has quite a few lefties in the lineup.

Here are his numbers from his current season with the Marines:

G   W  L  CG   IP    BF    H   HR  BB  HBP  SO  WP  BK  ER  R   ERA
17  6  6   3  119.2  482   97  11  25   3   90  2   0   42  44  3.16

11:26AM JST: Sanspo is reporting that Tsuyoshi Nishioka had X-Rays taken of his right flank to see if there was any structural damage to the bones. The X-Rays were negative and Nishioka is listed as day-to-day. (It isn't a hamstring problem as reported before.)


Aoki Watch
1st AB: fly out to right
2nd AB: grounds into double play
3rd AB: fielder's choice
4th AB: fielder's choice

Cute Canadian Chick Count: 3

Starting Lineups CANADA JAPAN 11 Stubby Clapp 2B 23 Norichika Aoki CF 15 Emmanuel Garcia SS 2 Masahiro Araki 2B 20 Michael Saunders RF 31 Masahiko Morino LF 40 Scott Thorman 1B 25 Takahiro Arai 1B 33 Nick Welglarz LF 41 Atsunori Inaba RF 17 Emerson Frostad DH 55 Shuichi Murata 3B 4 Matt Rogelstad 3B 10 Shinnosuke Abe DH 30 Chris Robinson C 22 Tomoya Satozaki C 7 Adam Stern CF 3 Hiroyuki Nakajima SS

Top of the 1st

First pitch: 11:30AM JST.

Norichika Aoki flies out to right.

Masahiro Araki singles up the middle.

Masahiko Morino hits a grounder to first, Thorman throws to second for the first out, back over to first, double play.

Observations: Losing both Nishioka and Kawakami really hurts the offense for Japan. Araki isn't a bad player, but he's known more as a slap hitter with good bat control, which means he's perfect as a number 2 hitter, but losing Nishioka means the lineup gets shorter.

Bottom of the 1st

Stubby Clapp strikes out looking.

Emmanuel Garcia grounds out to second.

Michael Saunders pops out to the first baseman in foul territory.

Observations: I find it funny how the announcers over here have to keep reminding viewers that the ball-strike count shown in the upper left is reversed. In Japan, they show the count as strikes to balls. I'm not really sure why Japan does it this way, but I think it has something to do with the way the ump shows the count: looking from the side of the ump, his hands show a ball-strike count. But from the center field camera the count is reversed.

Top of the 2nd

Takahiro Arai singles into left.

Atsunori Inaba hits a hot shot to short. Bobbled there, fielded, steps on the bag for one out... And not enough time to turn two.

Shuichi Murata strikes out swinging.

Shinnosuke Abe grounds out to third.

Deep Thoughts: Why is it that the camera operator always seems to be able to pick out some really good looking women in the stands? (Anything for TV ratings, I suppose.) They've already shown one fairly cute Canadian woman at least two times. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.

Bottom of the 2nd

Scott Thorman strikes out swinging.

Nick Welglarz strikes out looking.

Emerson Frostad pops on up, drifting back and towards foul territory is Araki. Struggling with the bright sunlight he just makes the grab.

Observations: This ump doesn't seem to have a very consistent zone. The zone also does appear to be a bit wide as balls off the plate are being called strikes (but again, IMHO, not consistently).

Top of the 3rd

Tomoya Satozaki strikes out swinging.

Hiroyuki Nakajima singles to left.

Aoki hits a grounder to short, throw to second for the first out, over to first, double play.

Observations: I don't know much about Chris Begg (starter for Canada) but he's thrown some pretty nasty off-speed pitches. He's done a good job keeping Japan off-balance at the plate. BTW: Aoki looked like he was safe at first.

Bottom of the 3rd

Matt Rogelstad lines one to second, Araki makes a leaping catch for the first out.

Chris Robinson lines one toward short, Nakajima dives glove-side and makes the catch!

Adam Stern grounds back to the pitcher for the final out.

Observations: Rogelstad, Robinsonm and Stern hit three bullets off Naruse that just happened to be at caught. That will be something to keep an eye on moving forward.

Top of the 4th

Araki strikes out swinging.

Morino flies out to left.

Arai strikes out swinging.

Observations: Anyone know what Chris Begg throws?

Bottom of the 4th

Clapp hits a sharp gounder to second, Araki fields and spins, fires to first, out!

Garcia singles into center.

Saunders hits a hot shot to first, but it bounces off Arai and spills into right. Clapp coasts into third, Garcia into second with a double.

Thorman strikes out swinging for the second out.

Welglarz strikes out swinging for the final out!

Observations: Don't know if I noticed this in other dugouts before, but I've caught two Canadians eating bananas. ... Naruse doesn't really seem to be fooling Canada anymore. He also appears to be missing his spots more often now. ... Naruse was really lucky there. He missed his spots a couple of times and things could have been a lot worse. But he managed to wiggle out of a bad situation. I'm worried though -- it'll be interesting to see how Canada does in their next half. ... The game is moving along at a fairly fast pace: 1 hour for 4 innings of play.

Top of the 5th

Inaba hits a drive to deep right... Back, far, it's outta here! Homerun Inaba!

Murata strikes out swinging.

Abe dribbles one toward first, pitcher fields. Begg tags Abe out for the second out.

Satozaki grounds out to second.

Observations: How Naruse starts this inning will be very important. The best would be for him to retire the side in order and get Japan back up to the plate again. ... Japan's play-by-play system is showing that Begg throws a fastball, curve, change and slider. He also appears to have another pitch, but I don't think Japan's play-by-play system is picking it up properly.

Bottom of the 5th

Frostad foul tips the ball into the glove of Satozaki for strike three.

Rogelstad pops-out into third base foul territory.

Robinson strikes out looking.

Observations: Nice strong inning by Naruse, exactly what you want to see after Japan scored a run in their top half. Now the question is how much much longer does Naruse go. He has thrown 68 up to this point, so it would seem he can go at least another inning. But look for Hoshino to have a quick hook today, especially after what happened against Korea the other night.

Top of the 6th

Nakajima hits a grounder to short, bobbles, fires... Not in time!

Aoki dribbles one to third, throw to second and that's it. One out.

Pitching change: David Davidson comes in for Begg

Araki bunts Aoki over to second, two outs.

Morino pops one up behind the plate, caught by Robinson for the final out of the inning.

Observations: Aoki is bunting!? Just for the first pitch it seems. ... Cute Canadian Chick Watch: 3 (the camera crew must really love her).

Bottom of the 6th

Stern grounds out to third.

Clapp strikes out swinging.

Garcia strikes out swinging.

Observations: Another strong inning for Naruse. No one was warming in the pen that inning. I would think that Naruse will return to the mound for the 7th, but if I'm Hoshino, I'm going to have the bullpen ready just in case.

Top of the 7th

Arai strikes out swinging.

Inaba grounds out to second.

Murata grounds out to second.

Bottom of the 7th

Saunders strikes out swinging.

Thorman pops out in foul territory near first base.

Welglarz flies out to left.

Observations: Important half for Naruse as he'll face the heart of the lineup. ... Naruse pitched another effective inning. No one was warming in the pen that inning either. Wonder if this means Naruse will come back out for the 8th? 86 pitches so far for Naruse.

Top of the 8th

Abe is caught looking for strike three.

Satozaki hits a rocket to second, throw to first, two outs.

Nakajima walks on 6 pitches.

Aoki hits a grounder to short, throw over to second for the force and final out of the inning.

Observations: Japan would ideally like to score a run or two more over these next few innings. But based on how Japan has been swinging the bat today, I'm not sure if they'll be able to collect enough baserunners / hits. ... Japan has Shinya Miyamoto INF, Akihiro Yano C and GG Sato OF on the bench. Tsuyoshi Nishioka may be available, but I'm not positive. ... Uehara was warming in the pen after Nakajima walked.

Bottom of the 8th

Pitching change: Kyuji Fujikawa in for Naruse
Defensive change: Akihiro Yano in for Satozaki

Frostad grounds out to second.

Rogelstad strikes out looking.

Pinch hitter: Ryan Radmanovich comes in for Robinson.

Radmanovich strikes out swinging.

Observations: Fujikawa is in for Naruse. Looks like Honshino is going the conservative root. I think if Japan managed another run in the top of the 8th, Naruse may have returned to the mound for another inning. ... Koji Uehara will probably pitch the 9th. ... Fujikawa hit 151km/h on the speed gun. ... Nice inning by Fujikawa. He's been pretty dominant in all three of his outings now.

Top of the 9th

Pitching change: Steve Green comes in for Davidson.
Defensive change: David Corrente comes in for Radmanovich.

Araki hits a slow grounder to third, throw to first. Not in time! Infield single for Araki.

Morino up to bat. On the 0-1 count, Corrente throws over to first, but it's a bad throw and the ball rolls into foul territory. Araki races to second, rounds second, and makes it into third. Morino hits a hard grounder to first, Araki has to stay at third, Thorman steps on the bag for the first out.

Arai grounds out to third. Arai stays at third.

Inaba is intentionally walked.

Murata strikes out swinging.

Observations: Araki may be the faster runner on the roster. So what he doesn't have in power and batting average, he makes up for in fielding, running, and bat control. ... Big run at third base. Japan NEEDS to get this runner home. ... Smart move by Canada to walk Inaba. They set up the force and they bring a strikeout prone hitter in Murata up to the plate.

Bottom of the 9th

Pitching change: Koji Uehara comes in for Fujikawa
Defensive change: Shinya Miyamoto comes in for Murata

Stern bunts back to the pitcher for the first out.

Clapp grounds out to short for the second out.

Garcia grounds out to second for the final out of the inning.

Observations: Uehara hasn't pitched since the game against Taiwan. In that game he had a four-run lead. It'll be interesting to see how he pitches with only a one-run lead. ... Uehara looks pretty relaxed on the mound.

Game over, Japan beats Canada, 1-0.

Post Game Notes

Nice game for Japan. If there's one concern, it's the offense's inability to string together hits. But Naruse got the job done, shutting down Canada's offense. And both Fujikawa and Uehara did their jobs by securing the 8th and 9th innings respectively.

Aoki was held hitless today, but then so was most of the lineup. Outside of Araki (2-for-3), Inaba (1-for-3) and Nakajima (1-for-2), the rest of the lineup went 1-for-22 with 7 strikeouts.

In 7 innings of work, Naruse only allowed 2 hits and struck out 10. Fujikawa followed with a scoreless inning and 2 strikeouts. And Uehara closed the door in the ninth in order.

Japan grounded into 2 double plays (Aoki, Morino).

Japan now has two games remaining: China and the US. Does Darvish get the start tomorrow? Or do they save him for the US?

Hoshino's Interview
About what a loss to Canada would have meant:
A loss to Canada would have been devastating. But Naruse pitched a great game for us.

About Inaba's homerun:
Inaba has been solid for us. Sure it was only one run, but it was a pitching duel on both sides. And at the end of the game, Inaba's run was the only run that crossed the plate.

Baseball @ the Olympics: Korea beats Japan 5-3

by on Aug.16, 2008 @ 1:45 am, under Other

Pre-Game Notes

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.


Aoki Watch
1st AB: strikeout
2nd AB: strikeout
3rd AB: single up the middle
4th AB: single to left

Starting Lineups KOREA JAPAN 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.

Comments Off on Baseball @ the Olympics: Korea beats Japan 5-3

Darvish arrives at ballpark with buzz cut

by on Aug.15, 2008 @ 9:50 am, under Other
Tags: , , ,

As I mentioned in the Japan vs. Netherlands post, Darvish arrived at the ballpark today with a buzz cut.

NikkanSports is reporting that Yu Darvish arrived at the ballpark with a buzz cut. It is customary in Japan to do this when you're either expressing sorrow / remorse (a la Tomohiro Nioka of the Giants after being caught in an extra marital affair), or if you're trying to get yourself psyched for a big event.

If anyone is interested, here's a screen cap I lifted from the broadcast:

Could SimCentral be the first site to carry this image?

UPDATE 8/16/2008 2:44PM JST: Daily Sports mentions that quite a few people on the team were surprised that Darvish got the buzz cut (Shinya Miyamoto was quoted as saying, "You're kidding right?"). Pitching Coach Yutaka Ohno apparently wasn't as surprised based on Darvish's lackluster performance against Cuba.

The article also mentions that Hideaki Fukui and Munenori Kawasaki were the ones that gave Darvish the buzz cut after lunch yesterday.

The article also provides a nice still shot of Darvish sporting his new style.

Incidentally, Masahiro Tanaka, Munenori Kawasaki and Abe Shinnosuke have also joined in and gotten buzz cuts (Tanaka got his yesterday along with Darvish I think).

Tanaka's buzz cut

Baseball @ the Olympics: Japan beats the Netherlands, 6-0

by on Aug.15, 2008 @ 6:25 am, under Other

Pre-Game Notes

7:26 PM JST: NikkanSports is reporting that Yu Darvish arrived at the ballpark with a buzz cut. It is customary in Japan to do this when you're either expressing sorrow / remorse (a la Tomohiro Nioka of the Giants after being caught in an extra marital affair), or if you're trying to get yourself psyched for a big event.

7:33 PM JST: JIJI Press is reporting that Team Japan was fined $2,000 for an incident during the game against Cuba. Manager Senichi Hoshino argued a ball/strike call and promptly stopped after being warned. However, immediately after that, he made a motion for a pinch hitter. Home plate umpire Juan Rodriguez Diaz thought Hoshino was still arguing the call and ejected him. After a translator intervened to inform the ump that Hoshino was merely making a call for a pinch hitter, it appeared as though the ejection was overturned. Honshino returned to the bench for the remainder of the game and was never warned again.

7:36 PM JST: SportsNavi is reporting that Softbank Hawks lefty Toshiya Sugiuchi will get the start against the Netherlands tonight. Sugiuchi throws a change, curve, slider, and fastball.

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
18  9  5   7  142  556  115  9   22   2   151  3   0   41 42  2.60

7:48 PM JST: SportsNavi is reporting that Alexander Smit will get the start for the Netherlands. He is a prospect from the Cincinnati Reds farm system.

Starting Lineups NETHERLANDS JAPAN 8 Michael Duursma SS 7 Tsuyoshi Nishioka 2B 21 Eugene Kingsale CF 23 Norichika Aoki CF 12 Sharnol Adriana 1B 31 Masahiko Morino DH 24 Sidney de Jong C 25 Takahiro Arai 1B 2 Yurendell DeCaster 3B 41 Atsunori Inaba RF 37 Bryan Engelhardt DH 55 Shuichi Murata 3B 27 Danny Rombley LF 10 Shinnosuke Abe C 18 Dirk van 't Klooster RF 46 GG Sato LF 5 Jeroen Sluijter 2B 3 Hiroyuki Nakajima SS

Top of the 1st

And we're off, first pitch from Sugiuchi for a strike at 8:02 PM JST.

Michael Duursma hits a floater caught by Hiroyuki Nakajima (SS) for the first out.

Eugene Kingsale broken bat grounder to third for the second out.

Sharnol Adriana walks on four straight pitches.

Sidney de Jong up to bat. Sharnol Adriana steals second on a 2-2 pitch. de Jong broken bat grounder to third for the third out.

Bottom of the 2nd

Tsuyoshi Nishioka walks on 7 pitches.

Norichika Aoki up to bat. Nishioka moves to first on a balk. Aoki singles through the right side of the infield. Nishioka to third.

Masahiko Morino goes the other way and lines a single to left. Nishioka scores, Aoki to second. No outs.

Takahiro Arai drives one into the gap in right, Aoki and Morino both score. Arai to second with a triple. Still no out. Arai registers his first hit of the Olympics.

Atsunori Inaba drives one to deep right for a sac fly. Arai scores.

Shuichi Murata grounds out to short for the second out of the inning.

Shinnosuke Abe strikes out swinging for the final out.

Top of the 2nd

Yurendell DeCaster grounds out to third.

Bryan Engelhardt caught looking on a fastball down the plate for strike three.

Danny Rombley flies out to right.

According to the announcers Masahiro Tanaka has also gotten a buzz cut (but it probably isn't as noticeable on him since his hair was already pretty short).

Bottom of the 2nd

GG Sato strikes out looking.

Hiroyuki Nakajima hits the ball off the right-field wall and slides into second with a double.

Nishioka grounds out to short for the second out of the inning. Nakajima stays put at second.

Aoki flares to short for the final out of the inning.

Top of the 3rd

Dirk van' t Klooster strikes out swinging.

Jeroen Sluijter grounds out to second.

Duursma strikes out looking on three pitches for the final out.

Sugiuchi appears to be throwing pretty free and easy right now. He's hitting his spots and he's making his pitches. He hasn't really gotten into any trouble over the first three innings. Other than the walk in the first, he hasn't thrown more than 2 balls to a batter.

Bottom of the 3rd

Morino grounds out to third.

Arai flies out to left for the second out of the inning.

Inaba grounds to third, bobbled by DeCaster, throw to first... Inaba safe at first.

Murata caught looking for strike three, inning over.

The ump appears to be have a fairly wide strikezone today -- balls off the plate for right-handed batters are consistently being called a strike.

Top of the 4th

Kingsale grounds out to short after working the count to 3-2.

Adriana flies out to deep right.

de Jong strikes out trying to check his swing.

Sugiuchi has thrown 47 pitches through 4 innings (17 10 8 12). He has retired 10 straight batters now.

Bottom of the 4th

Abe lines out to right.

Sato hits a hotshot to third, fielded there by DeCaster, throw over to first, in time!

Nakajima strikes out swinging for the third out.

The game is moving along fairly quickly. 4 innings in the books and we're only a couple minutes over an hour.

Top of the 5th

DeCaster grounds out to short.

Englehardt hits a chopper in front of the plate, rolling slowly towards the first-base side. Sugiuchi running to field the ball but it goes underneath his glove. Infield single.

Rombley strikes out swinging for the second out of the inning.

van' t Klooster bloops one that goes between the third baseman and shortstop. Englehardt is running hard and manages to get to third. Throw goes to the second baseman and van' t Klooster is caught in between first and second. Englehardt takes off for home, Nishioka throws to first and Englehardt is tagged out sliding into home.

Bottom of the 5th

Nishioka skies out to center.

Aoki lines out to the shortshort.

Morino singles to right.

Arai drills one off the left-field fence. Morino slides into third and is safe on a bad throw. Arai stays at first.

Inaba pops out to the shortstop for the final out of the inning.

The umpire doesn't appear to be calling pitches off the plate, with lefties batters in the box, a strike. Based on how the ump has been calling pitches off the plate for righties, Inaba appeared to be caught looking at strike three, but the pitch ended up being called a ball.

Top of the 6th

Sluijter singles to left.

Duursma taps one up the middle, Nakajima fields, steps on the bag for one out, throws to first for the second out, double play.

Kingsale flies out to center.

The announcers mentioned that Tsuyoshi Wada could be the starter for tomorrow's game.

Bottom of the 6th

Murata grounds out to third.

Abe grounds out to the pitcher.

Sato walks on four pitches.

Pitching change: Diegomar Markwell comes in for Smit.

Nakajima walks on 6 pitches.

Pinch hitter Masahiro Araki in for Nishioka (2B)

Araki walks on 6 pitches to load the bases with two outs.

Aoki grounds out to second. He hit the ball right on the button, but unfortunately it was right at Sluijter.

Top of the 7th

Adriana fouls out to the first baseman.

de Jong grounds out to short.

DeCaster drives one off the base of the centerfield wall for a double.

Pinch hitter: Percy Isenia comes in for Engelhardt (DH)

Isenia strikes out swinging.

This was probably the last inning for Sugiuchi (87 pitches). Masahiro Tanaka was warming in the pen so he'll probably be coming in for the 8th.

Bottom of the 7th

Morino grounds out to third. That was a pretty tough pick by DeCaster. He's made some pretty nice plays over at third.

Arai lines out to right.

Inaba singles up the middle with two outs.

Murata flies out to left.

Top of the 8th

Pitching change: Masahiro Tanaka comes in for Sugiuchi

ball (fb), bal (fb)l, strike (fb), ball (fb), strike (fb), ball (fb) - walk

van' t Klooster
ball (sl), strike (sl), swinging strike (fb), check swing strike (fk) - strikeout

swinging strike (sl), swinging strike (fk), ball (fk), swinging strike (fk) - strikeout

Pinch hitter: Raily Legito in for Duursma

ball (sl), strike (fb), strike (sl), fouled off (fk), ball (fb), ball (fb), ball (fk) - walk

ball (sl), strike (fb), ball (fb), fouled off (sh), strike (fb 151km/h) - strikeout

fb = fastball, fk = forkball, sl = slider, sh = shuto

Bottom of the 8th

Abe grounds out to second.

Sato hits a homerun to left center.

Nakajima grounds out to second.

Araki taps a slow roller to third. Tough play by DeCaster as he charges in, bare hands the ball, throws to first... Not in time. Infield hit.

Aoki steps into the batter's box. Araki steals second on the 1-0 count. Aoki drives one to center, Araki scores from second. Aoki coasts into second with a double.

Pitching change: Michiel van Kampen comes in for Markwell

Morino caught looking at strike three.

Top of the 9th

Pitching change: Kenshin Kawakami comes in for Tanaka

Adriana flies out to shallow center. The ball almost dunked in due to a problem with communication.

de Jong nubs one, fielded, but bobbled by Kawakami. Throw over to first, Arai scoops it... In time!

DeCaster fouls out.

Game over, Japan beats the Netherlands, 6-0.

Post Game Notes

  • Aoki is now 5-for-12 (including a double) with 3 ribs, 2 runs, and a stolen base. He is also the only starter with 10 or more AB's and no strikeouts.
  • Nishioka is 4-for-11 (including a double) with a walk, an rbi, 1 run, and a stolen base.
  • Nakajima has done a solid job filling in for the injured Kawasaki. He has collected 3 hits (2 doubles) in 7 at bats to go along with 2 walks 2 rbi's. However, Nakajima has also struck out 3 times.
  • After going hitless in his first 7 at bats (including 3 strikeouts), Arai managed to collect 2 hits (1 triple) in his 4 trips to the plate against the Netherlands.
  • Morino also managed to break an 0-for-5 slump with his 2-for-5 performance.
  • Japan, as a team, is now 28-for-100 (4 doubles, 1 triple, 2 homers) to go along with 14 rbi, 17 SO, 7 walks, 3 SB, and 3 GIDP.
  • Tanaka has now pitched 2 innings, faced 10 batters, given up 1 hit, walked 3, and struck out 6.
  • The Japanese pitching staff currently leads all teams in strikeouts with 32.
  • Japan's team ERA is 1.73 (5 ER after 26 IP) after 3 games.

Baseball @ the Olympics: Japan beats Taipei, 6-1

by on Aug.14, 2008 @ 2:28 am, under Other

Pre-Game Notes
Hideaki Wakui will supposedly get the nod to start for Japan tonight against Taipei. The 22-year-old right-hander is listed at 185cm and weighs in at about 85kg. Wakui throws a fastball, slider, cutter, curve, forkball, change, sinker, palmball, and shuto. He throws in the 135-140km/h range and has maxed out at 151km/h.

Here are his numbers from his current season with the Lions:

G   W  L  CG  IP   BF    H   HR  BB  HBP  SO   WP  BK  ER  R   ERA
19  8  8   5  136  569  126  9   39   5   101  9   0   51  54  3.38

There is some concern regarding Munenori Kawasaki's left foot going into the game against Taipei. Kawasaki appeared to re-strain it while running to first on a single in the 5th. Hiroyuki Nakajima initially came in to pinch run for him, but Kawasaki refused to be removed from the game. In the bottom of the 5th, as Kawasaki was running on to the field to take his position, he was sporting something of a noticeable limp. Kawasaki was finally lifted for pinch runner Nakajima in the top of the 7th when he collected his third hit of the game.


Aoki Watch
1st AB: ground out
2nd AB: single, stolen base
3rd AB: single
4th AB: foul-out to catch
5th AB: reaches first on fielder's choice

Staring Lineups TAIPEI JAPAN 24 Che-Hsuan Lin CF 7 Tsuyoshi Nishioka 2B 66 Chien-Ming Chang RF 23 Norichika Aoki CF 23 Cheng-Min Peng 1B 31 Masahiko Morino DH 52 Chin-Feng Chen DH 25 Takahiro Arai 1B 31 Chih-Sheng Lin SS 41 Atsunori Inaba RF 11 Chih-Hsien Chiang 2B 55 Shuichi Murata 3B 28 Kuo-Hui Lo LF 10 Shinnosuke Abe C 41 Feng-Min Cheng C 46 GG Sato LF 6 Chih-Wei Shih 3B 3 Hiroyuki Nakajima SS

Two innings are in the books with no score. Kawasaki is not in the game. He apparently got an MRI earlier today and it looks like he has metatarsal periostitis in the second ordinal (left foot). Hiroyuki Nakajima is in the game as the shortstop, batting 9th.

Bottom of the 4th

Wakui is in trouble after giving up a lead-off double to Cheng-Min Peng and a walk to Chin-Feng Chen. A sac bunt by Chih-Sheng Lin puts runners on second and third with only one out.

Chih-Hsien Chiang hits a bloop single to center driving in Peng from third. Runners on first and third, 1 out.

Woah, what luck, Kuo-Hui Lo hits a 1-2 slider right on the button, but directly at Takahiro Arai for the second out of the inning. Arai then steps on first for the third out. If not for the double play, this could have been an UGLY inning for Japan.

Top of the 5th

Shuichi Murata drills one to deep right, but it's caught on the warning track.

Shinnosuke Abe with a line-drive homer into the right-field stands to tie the score! Abe hit a 2-2 curve down in the zone.

GG Sato is caught looking out on what appeared to be a fastball out of the zone (low).

Nakajima drills a first pitch slider up against the centerfield wall for a double.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka fouls out to third for the final out.

Bottom of the 5th

Wakui looks like he's finally getting comfortable on the mound. He struck out Feng-Min Chen on 4 pitches, got Chih-Wei Shih to ground out to third, and struck out Che-Hsuan Lin on a 3-2 cutter.

Top of the 6th

Pitching change: Fu-Te Ni comes in for Wen-Hsiung Hsu
Defensive substitution (catcher): Chun-Chang Yeh comes in for Feng-Min Chen

Aoki bloops a single over the shortstop into center on a 2-2 slider down and in.

Masahiko Morino is trying to bunt Aoki over to second, but failed on his first attempt. Second bunt attempt is a success, Aoki moves over to second with one out.

Pitching change: Chih-Chia Chang comes in Fu-Te Ni.

Arai strikes out on four pitches.

Atsunori Inaba lines a first pitch fastball to center for a single, scoring Aoki from second. Japan takes a 2-1 lead.

Murata flies out to deep center for the third and final out of the inning.

Bottom of the 6th

Chien-Ming Chang grounds out to second.

Cheng-Min Peng sort of lifts one that second baseman Nishioka manages to make a leaping grab on.

Chin-Feng Chen grounds out to third.

Wakui is really hitting his spots now. I'm not sure how much longer he'll stay in the game, but that was his second consecutive three up, three down inning (and third of the game).

Top of the 7th

Abe drills a 2-2 pitch to right for the first out. Looks like he didn't get under it enough, probably just missing his second homer of the game.

GG Sato lines out to left.

Nakajima strikes out for the third out.

Bottom of the 7th

Pitching change: Hitoki Iwase comes in for Wakui

Chih-Sheng Lin strikes out looking on a 2-2 fastball.

Chih-Hsien Chiang singles through the right side.

Kuo-Hui Lo lifts a drive to right-center. Inaba tracks it down and throws it back in to the cut-off man. Nishioka sees Chiang well off first base and nails Chiang trying to return to first. Arai also did a nice job of scooping a bad throw from Nishioka.

Top of the 8th

Nishioka gets an infield hit. Could have been ruled an error, but it was a tough play up the middle for the second baseman.

Aoki up to hit. Nishioka steals second with the count 0-1. Aoki hits a pop-up behind the plate for the first out of the inning.

Morino grounds out to second. Nishioka moves to third with 2 outs.

Arai strikes out for the final out of the inning. He is now 0-for-4 with 2 strikeouts.

Bottom of the 8th

Pitching change: Kyuji Fujikawa comes in for Iwase

Pinch hitter: Wu-Hsiung Pan comes in for Feng-Min Chen

Wu-Hsiung Pan strikes out on a 1-2 fastball.

Chih-Wei Shih up to bat. Fujikawa fires a 1-1 150km/h fastball for strike 2. Shih fights off a 151km/h fastball to stay alive. Shih strikes out on a 2-2 forkball low and away. Fujikawa is throwing some nasty stuff.

Che-Hsuan Lin strikes out on a 3-2 fastball up and in for the third out.

I wonder if this means Uehara comes in for the 9th. What I find a little strange is that Fujikawa is taking a back seat to Uehara. Uehara does have seniority, but Fujikawa has more experience. He also hasn't struggled as Uehara has this season. Hopefully the decision to make Uehara the closer doesn't backfire.

Top of the 9th

Pitching change: Chin-Hui Tsao comes in for Chang
Defensive substitution (catcher): Chih-Kang Kao comes in to catch

Inaba grounds out for the first out.

Murata lines a single to left.

Abe walks on 5 pitches.

Pitching change: Kai-Wen Cheng comes in for Tsao

GG Sato is hit by a pitch. Bases are now loaded with only 1 out.

Nakajima singles through the right side, driving in two runs. The throw goes into third with Sato safe at third. Nakajima moves up to second on the throw to third. Runners on second and third, 1 out.

Nishioka drills a 3-2 fastball back up the box to drive in Sato from third. Runners on first and third with one out.

Cheng doesn't really look comfortable on the mound.

Aoki hits a tapper fielded by the second baseman. Throw to second for the force. The ball wasn't hit hard enough to double up Aoki. Nakajima scores from third.

Pinch hitter: Masahiro Araki comes in for Morino

Araki is hit by a pitch. Runners on first and second with 2 outs.

Arai walks on 5 pitches. Bases loaded, 2 outs.

Japan has batted around.

Inaba strikes out on a 2-2 slider for the final out of the inning.

Happy to see Japan score a few more insurance runs for Uehara. I'm very interested to see how he pitches.

Bottom of the 9th

Pitching change: Koji Uehara in for Fujikawa

Chien-Ming Chang
1st pitch: Fastball, called strike
2nd pitch: Forkball, swinging strike
3rd pitch: Fastball, grounder back to Uehara for the first out.

Cheng-Min Peng
1st pitch: Fastball, check-swing nub back to Uehara for the second out.

Chin-Feng Chen
1st pitch: Fastball, called strike
2nd pitch: Forkball, swinging strike
3rd pitch: 143km/h Fastball, Swinging strike

Game over, Japan beats Taipei, 6-1. Nice inning by Uehara. He looked really comfortable and confident out there on the mound.

Senichi Hoshino Interview (paraphrased of course)
When asked about Abe's homerun
Abe's homer really helped turn things around, although it did take a little while for things to fall into place.

When asked about Wakui's start
Wakui had a rocky start but did a nice job settling down. I removed him when I did because his pitch count was getting a little high.

When asked about the next opponent the Netherlands
We need to take things one by one. We need to play smart and take care to make all the plays.

Post Game Notes

  • Arai is now 0-for-7 with 3 strikeouts, a walk, and an RBI (sac fly).
  • Nishioka leads Japan with 4 hits (in 9 at bats).
  • Aoki is 3-for-7 and is tied with Kawasaki (3-for-3) for second most hits on the team.
  • Japan has made an error in the two games they have played so far in the Olympics.
  • As a team, Japan's offense is now 18-for-66 (including a homer and 2 doubles) with 3 walks, 12 strikeouts, 3 GIDP, 2 SH, 2 SF, and 4 HBP.
  • The bullpen has now thrown 7 shutout innings and given up 3 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 11.
  • Japan's pitching staff as a whole has given up 5 runs (all earned) on 13 hits, 8 walks, 1 HBP, and 23 strikeouts over 17 innings.
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Baseball @ the Olympics: Cuba beats Japan, 4-2

by on Aug.13, 2008 @ 7:59 am, under Other

The game is underway with Yu Darvish making the start for Japan.

Bottom of the 1st - 21 pitches
Giorbis Duvergel... WALK on 3-2 pitch (7 pitches)
Michel Enriquez... STRIKEOUT on 3-2 pitch (6 pitches)
Yuliesky Gurriel... FLY OUT to right on 1-1 pitch (3 pitches)
Alexander Malleta... STRIKEOUT on 1-2 pitch (5 pitches)

Bottom of the 2nd Inning - 30 pitches
Frederich Cepeda... STRIKEOUT on 1-2 count (4 pitches)
Alexei Bell... TRIPLE on 1-0 count (2 pitches)
Alfredo Despaigne... SINGLE to center on 2-2 count (5 pitches)
Ariel Pestano... SINGLE to center on 3-2 count (6 pitches)
Eduardo Paret... HBP on 2-0 count (3 pitches)
Giorbis Duvergel... POP OUT to short on 2-2 count (7 pitches)
Michel Enriquez... FLY OUT to left on 1-1 count (3 pitches)

Bottom of the 3rd Inning - 22 pitches
Yuliesky Gurriel... DOUBLE on 0-0 pitch (1 pitch)
Yoshihisa Naruse is warming in the pen
Alexander Malleta... GROUND OUT to first on 3-2 pitch (7 pitches)
Toshiya Sugiuchi appears to be warming in the pen as well
Frederich Cepeda... SINGLE through the right side on 2-1 pitch (4 pitches)
Alexei Bell... STRIKEOUT on 1-2 pitch (4 pitches)
Alfredo Despaigne... STRIKEOUT on 3-2 pitch (6 pitches)

Darvish doesn't really look like himself out there -- he looks a little sluggish. And after only 3 innings, he's already thrown 73 pitches.

Bottom of the 4th Inning - 23 pitches
Ariel Pestano... GROUNT OUT to first on 1-2 count (4 pitches)
Eduardo Paret... DOUBLE on 1-1 count (3 pitches)
Giorbis Duvergel... WALK on 3-0 count (4 pitches)
Michel Enriquez... STRIKEOUT on 2-2 count (5 pitches)
Yuliesky Gurriel... WALK on 3-0 count (4 pitches)
Alexander Malleta... FLY OUT to left on 2-0 count (3 pitches)

So another heavy inning for Darvish. Seems like he's getting into trouble every inning. His control isn't really there right now. Darvish is now sitting on 96 pitches. Naruse and Kyuji Fujikawa are said to be warming in the pen.

Top of the 5th Inning
Japan just tied the score (again) at 2 with Takahiro Arai's sac fly to right to score Munenori Kawasaki from third (Kawasaki was also the runner that scored on Aoki's sac fly in the third inning). This after Kawasaki and Aoki were balked over to second and third with 1 out, followed by a HBP to Masahiko Morino.

Bottom of the 5th Inning - 7 pitches
Frederich Cepeda... WALK on 3-2 count (6 pitches)
Alexei Bell... DOUBLE on 0-0 count (1 pitch)
*PITCHING CHANGE - Naruse in to relieve Darvish*

So ends Darvish's night. He leaves the game with runners on second and third and no out. Darvish threw a total 103 pitches. He struck out 6, walked 4, hit a batter, and gave up 7 hits (3 doubles and a triple).

The runners on second and third just scored so Darvish's night is now officially over. Here is his final line score:

4 IP, 7 H, 1 HBP, 6 SO, 4 BB, 4 R, 4 ER, 24 BF, 103 Pitches

The announcers over here were a little surprised to see Naruse in the game. I'd have to agree with them: is Naruse really the right option? He came in and promptly gave up a 2-run single. Perhaps it's asking a bit too much for him to shut the doors on the Cuban offense since Naruse really isn't a reliever by trade and probably hasn't entered into too many pressure situations he wasn't originally responsible for.

But Naruse has been a little rocky as of late. Over his last 5 official NPB starts, he gave up 20 runs (all earned) on 36 hits (4 homers), and 8 walks over 33 innings. And that, of course, doesn't include the All-Star game where he gave up 8 runs (7 earned) on 11 hits in 2 innings of work.

Naruse managed to get out of the 5th without giving up another run. He got Pestano to ground out, walked Paret, struck out Duvergel, and Aoki made a nice catch out in center on a liner by Enriquez. It'll be interesting to see how he pitches the next inning.

BTW: for those wondering, Naruse can throw 6 pitches, but primarily relies on his fastball, slider, and change (he can also apparently throw a curve, forkball, and screwball).

Bottom of the 6th
Nice strong inning by Naruse. He got Gurriel to fly out and struck out both Malleta and Cepeda.

Bottom of the 7th
*PITCHING CHANGE - Masahiro Tanaka in to relieve Naruse*

The announcers are saying that Tanaka's arm should be fine and that he seemed really relaxed during a short chat during practice yesterday.

Alexei Bell... STRIKEOUT on 1-2 count (5 pitches) - 151 km/h fastball on last pitch
Alfredo Despaigne... SINGLE to right on 2-2 count (6 pitches)
Ariel Pestano... FOUL TIP STRIKEOUT on 1-2 count (4 pitches)
Eduardo Paret... WALK on 3-1 count (5 pitches)
Giorbis Duvergel... STRIKEOUT on 1-2 count (5 pitches)

Nice inning by Tanaka. He showed some poise out there on the mound. Not bad for a 19 year old.

Bottom of the 8th
*PITCHING CHANGE - Fujikawa in to relieve Tanaka*
Michel Enriquez... FLY OUT to center on 2-2 count (5 pitches)
Koji Uehara soft tossing in the pen, 9th inning?
Yuliesky Gurriel... DEEP FLY OUT to right on 2-1 count (4 pitches) - 151 km/h on second pitch
Alexander Malleta... LINER to second on 1-0 count (2 pitches)

GAME SET: Cuba beats Japan, 4-2.

AOKI WATCH: 1-for-4, 1 RBI, 1 HBP
1st AB: HBP
2nd AB: Sac fly
3rd AB: Single
4th AB: Fly out
5th AB: Fly out

Some more numbers for those of you that might be interested.

Pitch Breakdowns:


Yu Darvish

overall: 103-43
fastballs: 56-25
sliders: 28-14
shuto: 9-2
curves: 6-0
cutters: 2-2
change-up: 1-0
forkball: 1-0

Six 3-2 counts: 1-for-4, 2 strikeouts and 2 walks.
Eight "3 balls, x strikes" (where x is 0 or more strikes) counts resulted in 4 walks.

In counts where the batter saw at least 1 pitch but no strikes, they went 1-for-2 with 2 walks, a hbp, and a triple.

Darvish threw the change-up and forkball against Cepeda in the bottom of the 5th, both were for balls.

None of the 6 curveballs Darvish threw went for strikes.

2 of the 3 doubles were on the first pitch (slider and fastball).

Masahiro Tanaka

overall: 25-9
fastball: 14-7
slider: 3-2

Kyuji Fujikawa

overall: 11-5
fastball: 9-5
forkball: 1-0
slider: 1-0

Senichi Hoshino after the game, "We just need to turn the page and move on." He didn't look all too pleased. Not only was he frustrated by the team's lack of offense (3 GIDPs!), but I think he wasn't happy with the strikezone either. There were more than a few times it seemed as though the home plate ump was squeezing Japanese pitchers. At best, the ump wasn't very consistent with his zone.