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Respectible Loss for China in WBC Game 1

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Respectible Loss for China in WBC Game 1
The Chinese team held their own pretty well in the first game of the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Defensively they looked much better than I've seen them over the years of Asian Series and WBC play, holding their own through all 9 innings.

A 2-run home run to Yokohama's Murata to cap off a 3-run third inning and a strange balk in the 6th accounted for Japan's 4 runs. All while Ichiro went 0 for 5. In fact, China held the three Japanese "Major Leaguers" hitless (0 for 11 and a walk) through the course of the game.

Offensively, China got their share of base runners, even matching Japan 5 hits to 5. However, those base runners seemed to almost all be cut down on double play after double play.

All I wanted from the first game was a well played game by both sides, and China didn't disappoint (this time). Good game.
Re: Respectible Loss for China in WBC Game 1
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Mar 6, 2009 12:26 AM ]

Westbay-san, I agree it was a very interesting game; however, the Japan team should be a little concerned as the score doesn't really tell the tale and the Nippon team should have cruised (very easily) on to a lop-sided victory.

Japan was very sharp defensively as they seem to convert the double play or get the lead runner out and never let China become a threat. The pitching was outstanding, as all of them seemed to be in mid-season form; the reason why I think they won (that and China's poor defense).

Offensively is another story; Japan was 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and left a total of 24 runners on base. The runs they scored were: Nakajima scored from 1st on a triple by Aoki, Inaba was on 1st when Murata hit the HR, and Fukudome scored on a wild pitch. That's not going to be good enough against the much stiffer opposition up ahead as they go deeper in the WBC. Then there was also some bad base running by Aoki (tried to score on Inaba's grounder to short) and Kataoka, who easily stole second just to get brain cramp and try to go to 3rd on a grounder to shortstop. (HUH!?!?)

This cannot happen if they (Japan) have aspirations of repeating as WBC Champs (I'm hoping). They need to get back to their style and play small ball offensively. Where was the bunt to move runners over? And Ichiro was 0-5 and did not try to bunt himself on base even once, why? That's what Nippon Baseball is about and I love that style. Sure it's nice to see the Slugger's "flex" their muscle once in a while; but fabricating runs is where "it's" at.

This game (China vs. Japan) can be seen as a competitive one. But reality is that it wasn't; Japan let China off the "hook." And I hope they correct this and make it to LA, but if they continue to play like this I don't think they'll make it.
Re: Respectible Loss for China in WBC Game 1
[ Author: Guest: N26 | Posted: Mar 6, 2009 1:14 AM ]

I was able to watch this game on the Internet with Japanese broadcast and was a little disappointed despite getting the win. Some random critical thoughts:
  • Ichiro seems to be disillusional. This slump is lasting longer than what I expected. Ichiro is not looking good at all.
  • Though Darvish seemed to be solid, all his strike outs were on a fast ball. When Darvish is really good he gets just as many strike outs with his breaking pitches, so I am starting to wonder if the WBC balls is the reason for that. Darvish for Nippon Ham and Darvish for Japan seems like 2 different players.
  • Inba was the DH. I wish Hara can use Ichikawa as DH some time and move Murata up one to the 4th spot.
Re: Respectible Loss for China in WBC Game 1
[ Author: Guest: Luigi | Posted: Mar 6, 2009 6:24 PM ]

To be honest, I only watched his first 2 at-bats, but I didn't think Ichiro was that bad. Both those outs were hard hit groundballs that just went right at a defender. With a little better luck those were easily base hits. He's not missing the ball or anything like that. His new stance does look a bit weird, it is more open and his back is not as straight as before, but as any long time observer of Ichiro will tell you, his stance is always different year from year. I just hope he is not secretly injured from a workout like the 60 pitch bullpen session he had. More than likely, it is just that his timing is off from being overaggressive and trying to hit a homerun for the Japanese fans during the exhibition game, and now he can't get that rhyme going again. Last year in Spring training he had like a 0-26 streak but in the end everything was alrite.
Re: Respectible Loss for China in WBC Game 1
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Mar 6, 2009 4:54 AM ]

I saw about 5 innings of this game. Pretty interesting, but it was quite evident that it was an instant win for Japan, so I turned off the TV - not like I was going to miss anything.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the S. Korea vs. Japan game.
Re: Respectible Loss for China in WBC Game 1
[ Author: Christopher | Posted: Mar 6, 2009 10:28 AM | HAN Fan ]

This was a comfortable victory and Japan were never really taxed. Only in one situation did China really impose themselves and this was when Japan had runners on second and third with one out. Here Inaba struck out swinging (and I really do feel they need someone better at No. 4) to some fine pitching.

The MLB players were poor but the NPB players were impressive. Aoki was a live wire and was always trying something out. However, with different opponents I expect the MLB players to step up a gear.

One thing that didn't impress about Japan was the base running which was very poor - two runners tagged out at the plate or going for the plate. More work needs to be done here.

All in all a solid workmanlike victory with plenty to build on (a win is a win as they say).
Re: Respectible Loss for China in WBC Game 1
[ Author: number9 | Posted: Mar 6, 2009 12:47 PM ]

I was impressed by China's improvement (well, they did win against Taiwan in the Olympics with the extra innings rule). But still, Japan had so many runners left on base. Nakajima and Fukudome showed great plate discipline, but they weren't driven in enough.

Ichiro's a slow starter, he was equally dismal in WBC 2006 warm ups and the Asia Round. Hopefully Darvish will gain some command over his breaking pitches before he pitches next.

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