Archive for the 'Japan' Category

Japan/Netherlands Advance to Final Four; Puerto Rico Upsets Dominican

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

The Netherlands left no doubt who had the superior team in their game against Cuba. They were up 12-0 after four and only needed seven innings to embarrass a once proud Cuban team 14-1 to advance to the final four. Twenty years ago those were scores the Cubans were putting up on the Netherlands in their games.

Wladimir Balentien hit two homeruns early, a three run shot in the first and a solo shot in the third to put a hurting on the Cuban pitchers. Yurendell DeCaster also homered in the third, a two run shot and contributed four RBIs in the game. He also lined a two run single in the five run fifth to put a dagger in the Cuban spirits to compete in this game. Kalian Sams finished off the scoring with a solo shot in the seventh and final inning.

The Cuban bats could not mount much of an offense against Diegomar Markwell, scoring just once against him in his six innings of work. That one score occurred after they were down 13-0. It didn’t matter who the Cubans trotted out to the mound. The Netherlands treated them all as if they were batting practice pitchers. Lazaro Blanco got the start and did not last two innings, giving up four runs. Vladimir Garcia could not last two inning before giving up five runs. Leandro Martinez, a 38 year old who would not have made a Cuban national team in the past, threw the best with three innings of mopup, allowing just two runs.

The crowd was listed at 40,680.

Japan 8 Israel 3

Japan ended a nice run by Israel with their 8-3 win, eliminating them from the final four. It was a pitcher’s duel for the first five innings with closer Josh Zeid getting the start and shutting out the Japanese bats for four innings. Israel just does not have enough depth in its pitching staff to keep the Samurai bats down for a full game. In the sixth Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh woke the bats up by leading off the inning with a homerun. Before the inning was complete four more runs had scored.

Dylan Axelrod replaced Josh Zeid and retired the side in order in the fifth. In the sixth he was not so fortunate, giving up two hits and a walk for three runs. His replacements were also ineffective and when the sixth inning was done you could put a fork in the game. Japan had a 5-0 lead.

The Israeli bats had trouble hitting Kodai Senga, producing a leadoff single from Sam Fuld in the first. After the leadoff single the Israelis could muster no more hits when Senga finished his outing after the fifth inning.

Japan put the game away in the eighth with three runs, Seiichi Uchikawa roping a two run double and Nobuhiro Matsuda tacking on one more run with a single.

Israel finally strung an offense together in the ninth with a walk and two singles off Kazuhisa Makita to score their first run, an Ike Davis single driving in the run. Ryan Lavarnway hit a two run double to pull Israel to 8-3, but that was as far as they were going to get. The good news for Israel is they get an automatic bid to play in the next WBC, not having to qualify as they did this year.

There were 43,179 who attended this game, much of the crowd already purchasing tickets for the Netherlands/Cuba game which counted against this attendance.

Puerto Rico 3 Dominican Republic 1

The Puerto Ricans proved the Dominicans could be beaten. Now the Dominicans have to sweep the United States and Venezuela to get to the final four. The bullpen of Hector Santiago, Joe Jimenez, Joseph Colon and Edwin Diaz quieted the Dominican bats to three hits in the last 6.2 innings. The momentum shifter may have been when right fielder Eddie Rosario threw out Jean Segura at home in the first to end a potential Dominican rally with zero runs. In the bottom of the first Puerto Rico used a couple walks and a Yadier Molina single to give them a 1-0 lead.

The Dominicans did not have the same fans in San Diego that they had in Miami. It was less of a home game for them. Nelson Cruz hit a leadoff homer in the second, but the crowd roar for the homer was not as loud as it was for his three run shot against the United States. The Dominicans play on emotion and the emotion was absent.

In the fourth Puerto Rico took the lead taking advantage of a throwing error by Adrian Beltre to allow Javier Baez to reach second. Eddie Rosario bounced a ball over the right field fence to give Puerto Rico a 2-1 lead.

The Dominicans never really threatened after the solo homer from Cruz in the second. They got runners to second but that was the extent of their threats. Yadier Molina led off the sixth with a solo shot to give Puerto Rico a little cushion that they did a much better job of protecting that the United States bullpen.

Of course the crowd was much quieter than in Miami. Tony Pena tried to motivate his team by getting tossed in the eighth. Nelson Cruz walked and with Adrian Beltre at the plate Cruz broke for second against Yadier Molina. He was thrown out to end the inning. Edwin Diaz mowed through the Dominican lineup in the ninth to pick up the save.

Only 16,637 attended the game at Petco Park in San Diego, a far cry from the 30,000 plus who showed up in Miami to support the Dominicans there.

Venezuela Rally Advances them to Second Round; Japan Downs Cuba

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

In the seventh inning John Andreoli hit his third homerun of the WBC to give Italy a 2-1 lead over Venezuela. Italy turned to Mike Demark in the ninth to pick up the save. The first batter he had to face was Miguel Cabrera. Miguel took his second pitch deep for his first homerun of the WBC to tie the game 2-2.

Venezuela would rally for two more runs in the ninth. Victor Martinez followed the Miggy homerun with a walk. Yangervis Solarte pinch ran for Victor. Rougned Odor hit a ball to deep center that Venezuela claimed was a homerun. The umpires looked at the replay and confirmed the original call that the ball did not travel over the fence. Solarte scored the go ahead run but Odor stopped at first.

Italy went with Frailyn Floran after DeMark failed to retire a batter. Carlos Gonzalez ripped a single to left to advance Odor to third. Gonzalez was thrown out at second trying to stretch the hit into a double. Alcides Escobar laid down a squeeze bunt to score Odor to up the score to 4-2.

Francisco Rodriguez came on to pitch for Venezuela. He gave up a leadoff homerun to Alex Liddi to pull Italy to within one. Rodriguez was able to retire the last three batters to secure the victory.

Anthony Morris had a stellar start for Italy, no hitting the powerful Venezuelan bats in his five innings of work. He walked one and struck out five. There were only 1,783 at a game that was not part of the original schedule, with Mexico not part of the game.

A controversy erupted when Mexico was informed they would advance to a playoff round if they beat Venezuela by two. That notice was quickly removed. Mexico was upset when they won by two and were informed they were eliminated and Venezuela would play Italy in the play in game.

Japan 8 Cuba 5

Tetsuto Yamada crushed two homeruns from the leadoff spot, driving in three and scoring four to lead Japan to an 8-5 win over Cuba. For Cuba it is their second loss in the second round. To stand a chance at advancing they must beat Netherlands and hope Japan beats Israel to put second place in a three way tie.

Yamada led off the game for Japan with a homerun. Cuba bounced back in the second by scoring two on a Yurisbel Gracial homerun. Yosvani Alarcon would double and advance to third in the inning but Victor Mesa struck out.

Yamada got the third inning started with a double. He scored on a clutch two out single from another young Japanese superstar Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh, who finished the game 3 for 3 with two RBIs.

In the fourth Alfredo Despaigne got the inning started with a single. William Saavedra and Alarcon hit one out back to back singles to load the bases. After Jefferson Delgado struck out Victor Mesa came through with a clutch two out single to score two runs. Alarcon was thrown out at third trying to advance after the throw home.

In the fifth Japan ties the game. Seiji Kobayashi started the inning with a single followed by a walk to Yamada. Cuba replaced Bladimir Banos with Yoennis Yera. A bunt moved the runners over and a ground out by Norichika Aoki pulled Japan to within one. With a runner on third and two outs Tsutsugoh got another clutch hit, a ground ball single into centerfield to tie the game.

In the sixth Cuba recaptured the lead. Yurisbel Gracial doubled, advanced to third on a fly ball and scored when Yosvani Alarcon singled. Japan again tied it in the bottom frame. Nobuhiro Matsuda appeared to strike out for the second out of the inning but the ball skipped past the catcher. Another wild pitch by Yera advanced Matsuda to second. Shogo Akiyama walked bringing on Cuba’s closer Miguel Lahera early in the game. A single by Seiji Kobayashi tied the game. Yamada struck out and Akiyama was thrown out trying to steal third to end the inning.

Japan took control of the game in the eighth after William Saavedra dropped a throw from shortstop Alexander Ayala to get the inning started. A Shogo Akiyama single advanced Matsuda to third. He scored when pinch hitter Seiichi Uchikawa hit a ball deep enough to right field to score Matsuda. Yamada put the icing on the cake with a line drive homerun into centerfield to give Japan an 8-5 lead.

Kazuhisa Makita retired the Cubans in order in the ninth. If Cuba hopes to advance past the second round they need to beat a tough Netherlands team. Japan has already clinched a fourth date for the final four with a game against Israel pending. They are the only country to play in all four final fours. If Israel can win and Cuba beats the Netherlands, Israel can advance to the final four. That could happen with Japan having nothing to play for but the seeding. It appears that even a Japan loss and a Netherlands win would have Israel and Netherlands play a play off game to determine who advances to the final four.

There were 32,717 in attendance to see the second match between Japan and Cuba. That was less than the 44,308 who showed up for the first round match between these two teams.

Extra Innings Galore in WBC; United States Advances

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Japan and the Netherlands were the first team to play past the tenth inning to initiate the extra inning rule. Japan pulled off a successful bunt followed by a two run single from Sho Nakata to give Japan an 8-6 lead. The Netherlands chose to have Jurickson Profar swing away and he popped to first. With no runners in scoring position Xander Boegerts grounded out and Kalian Sams popped out to end the game.

The two battled it out like punch drunk boxers with both teams scoring a run in the second and four runs in the third. Jonathan Schoop hit a solo homerun in the second and Wladimir Balentien hit a two run homerun in the third to spice up the Netherlands offense. Sho Nakata continued to stay hot with a three run homerun in the third. He finished the game 3 for 6 with 5 RBIs.

The Netherlands took the game into extra innings on a Jonathan Schoop RBI single in the ninth inning. With runners on second and third and two out and a chance to win the game Curt Smith struck out.

Japan threatened in the tenth, loading the bases with one out. Norichika Aoki grounded into a double play, with many thinking Curt Smith was off the base when he caught the relay throw from Andrelton Simmons.

While the starting pitching was disappointing for both teams the relief pitching was stellar. The Japanese bullpen allowed only the one run in the ninth inning. The Netherlands also limited Japan to one run until the eleventh inning. There were over 44,000 who attended the game.

Dominican Republic 10 Colombia 3

Colombia battled Dominican Republic to a 3-3 tie after 10 innings. The Dominican Republic exploded for seven runs in the eleventh inning with Jean Segura providing the big hit with a bases clearing three run double.

Colombia had an opportunity to win the game in the ninth. After Jorge Alfaro hit a solo shot in the eighth to tie the game at 3-3 Colombia put their first two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth. Donavan Solano grounded out to put runners on first and third with one out. Reynaldo Rodriguez lined a shot to Jose Bautista in left field. Pinch runner Oscar Mercado tagged from third but Bautista threw a strike home to cut off the winning run. Myworld would have liked to have been there to hear the roar from the Dominicans after that play.

Close to 37,000 watched the Dominican Republic advance to the second round. Colombian fans can take satisfaction that their win over Canada automatically qualifies them for the 2021 WBC, or whenever the next WBC is played.

United States 8 Canada 0

The United States advanced to the second round with another opportunity to play the Dominican Republic in their future with their win over Canada. Canada will have to qualify to play in the next WBC after their last place finish. The United States put the game away with seven runs in the first two innings. Nolan Arenado hit a three run homer in the second. Eric Hosmer hit the first of his two doubles in the first to drive in two runs.

Danny Dufy got the start for the United States throwing four shutout innings, allowing just two hits. Ryan Dempster had his second poor start of the WBC failing to get out of the first inning before allowing three walks and two hits in the three run first. Only 22,000 showed up to watch the game between the two North American teams, evidence the WBC is being financed by the party atmosphere of the Dominican Republic.

Puerto Rico 9 Italy 3

Puerto Rico scored all their runs in the first five innings to romp over Italy and advance to the second round undefeated. Italy will have to wait until the results of the Mexico/Venezuela game to determine their fate. Puerto Rico will also get another opportunity to play the Dominican Republic after losing to them in the finals of the 2013 WBC.

Carlos Correa hit a three run homer in the fourth to fuel the offense. Jose Berrios worked five innings to get the win. The only two hits he allowed were solo shots from Drew Butera and John Andreoli. The bullpen of Hiram Burgos and Miguel Mejia shutout the Italians on one hit the remaining four innings.

Cuba Advances to Second Round with Win Over Australia; Italy with Wild Win Over Mexico

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Despite their watered down roster Cuba was able to beat Australia 4-3 to advance to the second round of the WBC. Alfredo Despaigne hit a grand slam homerun in the fifth to provide all the scoring for Cuba. It was his second homerun of the WBC.

Australia got a solo homerun from Trent Oeltjen in the seventh to cut the lead to 4-2. They scored another run in the eighth on a two out Luke Hughes double and an RBI single in the eighth. Tim Kennelly singled to put runners on first and second for Oeltjen to play hero but he struck out. Australia was retired in order in the ninth by Migual Lahera, the last two by strikeouts.

The Aussies did have some trouble making contact with runners in scoring position. In the third inning with the bases loaded and two out Logan Wade struck out to foil a rally. In the fourth inning with two runners on Luke Hughes struck out. After they had scored a run in the fifth Brad Harman struck out to end the inning, stranding an additional two runners. With runners on first and third and no out in the sixth Luke Hughes struck out and Mitchell Denning grounded into a double play. So the opportunities were there for Australia to win the game, ultimately stranding 15 runners on base.

Australia also had two outs in the fifth with no one on when Cuba began their rally with two singles and a walk to load the bases. Lachlan Wells stayed on to face Alfredo Despaigne and Despaigne deposited a ball into the left centerfield bleachers.

Warwick Saupold pitched four innings of shutout ball for Australia in his start. Australian pitchers combined to strike out 10 Cubans while Cuban pitchers combined to strike out 11 Aussies. The attendance was listed at over 38,000 but most of those fans were not there, waiting to attend the night game with Japan playing China.

Italy 10 Mexico 9

Italy stunned Mexico with five runs in the bottom of the ninth. Roberto Osuna and Oliver Perez could not retire a batter as Brandon Nimmo singled to pull Italy within one and John Andreoli hit the walk off single, scoring two.

Mexico was in charge for most of the game. Esteban Quiroz led the game off with a homerun. Italy bounced back with a homerun by John Andreoli, their number two hitter in the game.

Quiroz doubled in the third inning to give Mexico a 2-1 lead. In the fourth a Japhet Amador solo shot and a Sebastian Elizalde single upped the lead to 4-1.

Italy came back and tied the game in the bottom half of the fourth. Rob Segedin launched a two run homerun and Chris Colabello hit a solo shot.

Mexico took what appeared to be in control of the game with three runs in the fifth. Efren Navarro walked to force in a run and Luis Alfonso Cruz doubled to drive in two. Drew Butera homered for Italy to close the lead to 7-5.

Mexico scored two in the seventh on a two run single by Sebastian Elizalde. With the score now 9-5 the game looked done. Italy went down meekly in the seventh and eighth. Roberto Osuna came on to start the ninth. The home crowd was celebrating their victory.

The bats came to life for Italy with back to back to back doubles by Francisco Cervelli, Chris Colabello and Alex Liddi to make the score 9-7 and get the fans a little bit nervous. An error on a ground ball to shortstop Luis Alfonso Cruz put runners on first and third with no outs. Drew Maggi walked to load the bases. Roberto Osuna left the game and Oliver Perez came on to replace him with the tying run on second. Brandon Nimmo lined a single to right field to pull Italy to within one and John Andreoli grounded a single to second baseman Luis Urias where two runs scored to give Italy the win.

There were 14,296 crushed Mexican fans who left the park.

Japan 7 China 1

Japan had already clinched first in the first round. China scored their first run of the WBC but still lost 7-1. After finishing last in this round China will have to qualify for the next WBC.

Japan scored early getting two run homeruns from Seiji Kobayashi in the second and Sho Nakata in the third to jump out to an early lead. For Nakata it was his second homerun of the WBC.

China scored their lone run in the third on a Ray Chang single. They had runners on first and third with one out but Chuang Na grounded out to end the inning. They had no real scoring opportunities after that. Japanese pitchers struck out 12 Chinese hitters.

Netherlands Clinches Second Round Advance in WBC

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

One of the disadvantages of bracket play with the top two teams advancing is how early teams can clinch their advancement to the second round. Israel and Netherlands have already clinched advancing to the second round with Netherlands 6-5 win over Taiwan. Now it is just a matter of determining who advances as the number one seed. The remaining two games in the bracket do not amount to much.

Netherlands inched past Taiwan 6-5 last night, taking advantage of a ninth inning error, a hit by pitch and a single to load the bases with no outs. Jurickson Profar coaxed a walk off walk to allow Netherlands to come out victors.

It did not come easy for the Netherlands. In the fifth Taiwan erupted for three runs to take a 5-4 lead. Chih-Hao Chang slugged a two run homer to tie the game at 4-4. Taiwan strung together two more singles after the homerun to put runners on first and third and still there were no outs. A ground out when the Netherlands could not turn two scored a run. After a strikeout Taiwan again loaded the bases with a hit by pitch and infield single. Che-Hsuan Lin flied out to end the inning.

The Taiwan pitchers shut down Netherlands for three innings. In the eighth back to back singles by Xander Bogaerts and Wladimir Balentien put runners on first and second with no outs. A double play ground out appeared to put the embers out for a rally. Fu-Te Ni came on to pitch to end the threat. Didi Gregorius lined a double to left field to tie the game and leading to the exit of Ni. Hung-Wen Chen came on to retire Yurendell Decaster on a ground out to send the game into the ninth inning tied.

Balentein finished the game 4 for 4 for the Netherlands and Didi as the DH was 3 for 4 with 3 doubles and three RBIs. Mike Bolsenbroek pitched three late shutout innings to allow the Netherlands to get back in the game. Chang was the big bat for Taiwan with his three hits including his big two run homerun, the only extra base hit for Taiwan in the game. Attendance was listed at 3,606.

Cuba 6 China 0

China could manage only one hit against the Cuban pitching. Bladimir Banos gave up that hit with one out in the fifth. Cuba scored four of their six runs in the fourth to put the game on ice. Roel Santos had the big hit with a two run triple. He finished the game 3 for 5. Alexander Ayala was 3 for 4 with an RBI double in the fourth inning.

Bruce Chen shut out Cuba for the first 2.2 innings of work. He was taken out of the game after getting Ayala to ground into a double play. His replacement Xia Luo would give up the four runs in the fourth inning.

There were 39,102 who came out to see the game at the Tokyo Dome, a good crowd considering Japan was not playing. That must have been a misprint because attendance was sparse according to reports myworld received of those who attended the game. It was so empty that many filtered down to the lower section to watch the game.

Japan 4 Australia 1

Through the first four innings an Allen de San Miguel homerun was the only run of the game, giving Australia a 1-0 lead. Tim Atherton finally cracked giving up a leadoff double to Hayato Sakamoto. An infield single put runners on first and third where Lachlan Wells replaced Atherton and gave up a sacrifice fly to Nobuhiro Matsuda to tie the game.

In the seventh a Sho Nakata homerun put Japan up 2-1. They put the game away in the eighth on a two run homer from Yoshitomo Tsutsugo.

Australia had an opportunity to take the lead in the fifth after Japan had tied the game 1-1. With the bases loaded and one out James Beresford grounded into a double play. That was really the last opportunity the Japanese pitching staff allowed them to score a run.

There were 41,408 at the Tokyodome.

Israel Blasts Taiwan; Japan and Netherlands also Win

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

In the professional league in Taiwan (CPBL) the teams are allowed to sign three foreign players. Those three foreign players are usually starting pitchers. When the season starts the four CBL’s four professional teams have three of their five or six starting pitchers filled by foreigners, leaving little opportunity for Taiwan pitchers to develop. That was on full display yesterday with Israel battering Taiwan 15-7, collecting 20 hits. Israel scored at least one run against each pitcher Taiwan threw out to the mound except Chen-Hua Lin, who only got two outs but still gave up two hits. Even ex-major leaguer Fu-Te Ni was banged around for three runs while he could only retire one hitter.

Meanwhile, Corey Baker, a non-descript minor leaguer who has only gotten six starts in AAA shut out Taiwan for four plus innings, allowing just three hits. Israel pounced on Taiwan starter Chun-Lin Kuo for six hits and four runs in the first inning as he was only able to retire two hitters. Ike Davis and Tyler Krieger each had two run singles to fuel the offense in the opening frame.

Ryan Lavarnway hit a two run homer in the third to up the Israel lead to 6-0. Taiwan made it a game with three runs in the sixth. Chih-Sheng Lin drove in the first two runs with a double. A sacrifice fly by Yi-Chuan Lin scored the third run to make it 6-3.

The hope for a comeback was only brief as Israel pulled away with five runs in the seventh. Nate Frieman and Tyler Krieger drove in runs with a single and Scott Burcham bunted for a single to score one run with two additional runs scoring when the ball was thrown away.

Nate Freiman hit a 3-run homerun in the top of the ninth to close out the scoring for Israel. Taiwan pushed across four runs in the bottom of the ninth to keep the game respectable. Only 3,287 were in attendance for the game. Israel has virtually assured themselves a spot in the second round.

Japan 11 Cuba 7

They say most of the good Cuban pitchers have left the island. This appeared quite evident with Japan’s 11-7 thrashing of Cuba. A five run fifth put them up 7-1. Nobuhiro Matsuda blasted a three run homer to left field to account for most of the runs.

Cuba would fight back, scoring three in the seventh, Alfredo Despaigne hitting a solo shot and Guillermo Aviles slashing a two run single to pull Cuba to within 7-4. Japan responded with two in the bottom frame, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo slugging a two run homer to extend the lead to 9-4.

Cuba scored two in the top of the eighth after a two run double by Yurisbel Gracial. Japan responded again with two in the bottom frame on a Nobuhiro Matsuda RBI single and a Seiji Kobayashi sacrifice fly.

In the top of the ninth Cuba put their first two runners on base and were able to load the bases with two outs and their big hitter Alfredo Despaigne at the plate. Kazuhisa Makita was able to strike him out to end the game.

Japan hitters were able to score at least one run against all the Cuban pitchers thrown out there. Noelvis Entenza got the start for Cuba but lasted only 1.1 innings after giving up four hits. Cuban managers are infamous for pulling their pitchers early. Ayumu Ishikawa worked four innings for Japan, allowing just one run on two hits.

A good crowd of 44,908 were at the game to watch the Japanese victory.

Netherlands 5 South Korea 0

The Korean bats were absent a second straight day. Coming into the WBC the Korean manager was worried about their pitching, but it is their bats that have failed them. Korea has only scored one run in two games. Rick Vandenhurk getting the start and leading the charge with four shutout innings. Four different pitchers completed the shutout with Diegomar Markwell going two innings and 7′1″ Loek van Mil closing it out in the ninth. Korea could manage only six hits.

Jurickson Profar got the offense started early with a two run homer in the first inning, rewarding the leadoff single from Andrelton Simmons. Kyu-Min Woo got the start for Korea. He gave up an Andrelton Simmons RBI double in the second and was gone after two outs in the third inning, giving up three runs on six hits.

The Dutch extended the lead in the sixth after a two run homer from Randolph Oduber to make it 5-0. Korea failed to advance a runner past second base, grounding into three double plays.

No attendance figures were given on the game. Netherlands next plays Taiwan and a win would virtually clinch both Israel and Netherlands advancing to the second round, making the next two games meaningless, though Israel and Netherlands would be playing for seeding.

Baseball World Cup Under 18 Pools Determined

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

The Baseball World Cup Under 18 tournament will be held in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada from September 1-10. Nine of the top ten ranked countries will be participating in the event, with only Venezuela the lone top ten country not participating.

There will be two groups of six, who will play a round robin. The top three finishers will then advance to the second round, where each of the three teams will carry their record with them to the new pool and play the three teams advancing from the other pool. The two teams with the best record will play for the gold medal while the third and fourth best record will battle for the bronze.

Group A

Canada (9), South Korea (3), Taiwan (4), Australia (10), Italy (11), Nicaragua (16)

Group B

United States (2), Japan (1), Cuba (5), Mexico (6), Netherlands (9), South Africa (28)

The United States has won this event the last three years. The All tournament team from the last Under 18 tournament included first round draft pick Josh Naylor from Canada and the recently defected potential superstar from Cuba Luis Robert. Blake Retherford, the first round pick of the Yankees made the team as an outfielder. There was a Cuban player named Jose Garcia who made it as a second baseman, but do not know if that was Jose Adolis Garcia, the brother of Adonis who recently defected.

Luis Robert hit .406 with two homeruns and 11 RBIs with three doubles, three triples and four stolen bases at the event.

Japan 2017 WBC Review

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Overview - Japan is a two time champion of the World Baseball Classic. They are also the number one rated baseball power in the world based on their showing in international events. This makes them the team to beat in the WBC.

They have not always been a strong international baseball power. The Baseball World Cups did not have them finishing in the medal rounds until 1976 when they won a bronze medal, though like the United States they are handicapped by having a professional league running at the same time the World Cup events were being held. The teams were mostly composed of players from their college teams or from their industrial leagues. After that first medal Japan won three more bronze medals in 1980, 2003 and 2007 with their best finish a silver medal in the 1982 World Cup.

The same handicap plagues Japan that hinders the United States when the Olympics are played. Japan runs its professional leagues during the summers when the Olympics begin so their teams are composed mainly of players from college or their industrial leagues. They have won bronze medals in 1992 and 2004, with a silver medal in 1996. In the last Olympics in 2008 they did have a roster of professional players and finished in the top four to make it to the medal rounds but lost to the eventual gold medalist South Korea 6-2. The United States beat them in the bronze medal game 8-4 with a roster composed mainly of minor league ball players. The finish was a big disappointment to the Japanese, who were hoping for a gold medal in what was defined as the last Olympics in baseball.

Japan is the strongest of the three Asian powers with Korea second and Taiwan third. Japan had won five straight Asian baseball championships before Korea broke their streak in 2015. Japan finished third that year falling behind Taiwan.

Doing well in the 2017 WBC will atone for their disappointing finish in the Premier 12 where they finished undefeated in pool play but again lost to the eventual champion South Korean team in the semifinals 4-3. They did win the bronze medal by bashing Mexico 11-1, but like they are a thorn to the side of Cuba, South Korea is a thorn in the Japanese side.

In the WBC they won the opener downing Cuba in the finals. They again had some troubles overcoming South Korea, losing to them in the opening pool and the second pool. In the semi-final medal round it was Koji Uehara who pitched seven innings of shutout ball to give Japan a 6-0 win and a trip to the gold medal game against the Cubans. Daisuke Matsuzake got the start in the Cuban game Japan won 10-6.

Showing that it was no fluke Japan again won the gold in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. They still had trouble beating South Korea, losing to them in the finals of pool one. After going 1-2 against South Korea in the tournament, they played them in the finals and beat them 6-2. In the game prior to that they had eliminated the United States by spanking them 9-4.

The 2013 World Baseball Classic was a disappointment because they could not make it three in a row. They did not even get a chance to play South Korea in this event, because they were eliminated in the first round. In the semi-finals of the medal round Puerto Rico beat them 3-1 throwing a pitcher by the name of Mario Santiago.

Current International Ranking - Japan is the number one ranked team in baseball. The highest ranked team in their pool is Cuba at number 5. Japan has always been a thorn in Cuba’s attempt to advance in the WBC. Australia is number ten and China is number 18. This may be the weakest pool of the four.

Roster

Pitchers - Ryo Akiyoshi, Shintaro Fujinami, Yoshihisa Hirano (DPP), Ayumu Ishikawa, Kazuhisa Makita, Hirotoshi Masui, Yuki Matsui, Naoki Miyanishi, Takahiro Norimoto, Toshiya Okada, Kodai Senga, Tomoyuki Sugano, Shota Takeda

Designated Pitchers Pool - Kenta Ishida, Yuta Iwasada, Tatsushi Masuda, Masahiko Morifuku, Yusuke Nomura, Daichi Ohsera, Hirokazu Sawamura, Yasuaki Yamasaki

Catchers - Seiji Kobayashi, Shota Ohno, Motohiro Shima

Infielders - Ryosuke Kikuchi, Nobuhiro Matsuda, Hayato Sakamoto, Kosuke Tanaka, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Tetsuto Yamada

Outfielders - Shogo Akiyama, Norichika Aoki, Ryosuke Hirata, Sho Nakata, Seiya Suzuki, Seiichi Uchikawa

Strengths - They may not have one of the best pitchers in baseball in Shohei Otani on this roster, out due to an ankle injury and the only major leaguer on the roster is Norichika Aoki, but do not underestimate this talent. The starting pitching is still deep with Takahiro Norimoto and Tomoyuki Sugano as solid one two aces in any rotation. One of their top young starters Shintaro Fujinami will be relegated to the bullpen. On the infield they have a power hitting shortstop in Hayato Sakamoto and a 24 year old second baseman that any major league team would love to have on their roster in Tetsuto Yamada. He can steal 30 bases and hit 30 homeruns. They list Yoshitomo Tsutsugo as an infielder but he is really part of a talented outfield and may be relegated to a DH role. The 25 year old is another player who can hit 30 homeruns and steal 30 bases. In the outfield in his place could be Norichika Aoki, Seiya Suzuki and the veterans Sho Nakata or Seiichi Uchikawa. This team has more All Stars than positions for these players to play.

Weakness - Catching lacks a superstar but this team does not really have a glaring weakness. It will be interesting to see how their power plays out against major league pitchers. This is not the Japanese team of punch and judy hitters that slash the ball to the opposite field that United States audiences are used to watching. There are some sluggers on this team, and those sluggers can steal bases.

Prospects to Watch - Shintaro Fujinami was a more heralded pitcher than Otani when they were both coming up through high school. He was selected number one in the draft by more Japanese teams than Otani. Takahiro Norimoto is a strikeout machine and is always on top of the league in that category. Yuki Matsui stands only 5′8″ but he gets hitters out. He had a rough year last year as the Rakuten Golden Eagles closer. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo and Tetsuto Yamada hit for both power and steal bases. They could probably start for most teams in the major leagues, Tsutsugo as an outfielder and Yamada as a second baseman, though Yamada is not considered a defensive standout at his position. Seiya Suzuki is another talented outfielder scouts will be watching for major league potential.

Expected Finish - They should advance to the final four and will be myworld’s favorite to win their third WBC championship.

Takeda to Replace Otani on Japanese WBC Roster

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

The ankle injury to Shohei Otani will prevent him from being on the roster even for a hitter. Since he was placed on the roster to be a starting pitcher, keeping him on the roster as a hitter left their pitching short. With the prognosis for his healing bleak prior to the WBC Japan decided to remove him from the roster and add Softbank righthander Shota Takeda. Shintaro Fujinami is expected to replace Otani in the starting rotation, though Takeda was a starting pitcher for the Hawks.

It is possible the Otani ankle injury is severe enough that surgery is a possibility if the ankle does not heal. This will force Otani to miss at least the first three months of the season. Otani has had ankle issues since high school, suffering a number of sprains. Otani was talking of being posted after this season, but his worth will be cut if he misses three months of the season, and because of the new CBA agreement with baseball he would still be one year short of falling out of the international salary cap.

World Port Tournament to Include Cuba

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

The World Port tournament, which is held every other year in the Netherlands will include Japan, Korea, Curacao, Netherlands and Cuba as the participants in 2017. The dates are scheduled for July 1-9 in Rotterdam at Family Stadium.

Japan and Korea traditionally fill their rosters with college and Independent League players. Cuba usually brings a national team, but their league has been watered down with defections to the major leagues. The team that represents Cuba are normally younger players who have potential for future national team representation. There is always a defection or two after the tournament. The Netherlands usually fields a strong team composed of their players from their national team. Curacao fills its rosters with players from the island who are playing in the Dutch League.

Cuba won the tournament in 2015. The Netherlands hopes to avenge that championship loss. The three other teams will be fillers who hope to spoil another Cuba/Netherlands championship series.