Tag Archive | "Japan"

WBC: Japan and Netherlands advance to semifinals


Japan and Netherlands advance to semifinals in Los Angeles at the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Netherlands 14, Cuba 1

The Netherlands jumped on Cuba early and often scoring multiple runs in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th inning en route to a 14-1 drubbing that ended after 7 innings due to the run rule.

The Dutch hit 4 home runs in the victory. Two of those came from slugger Wladimir Balentien who hit a 3-run shot in the first inning and a solo shot in the 3rd inning. Yurendell Decaster hit a 2-run shot in the 3rd inning, and the final shot came in the 7th from Kailan Sams.

Decaster drove in 4 runs and Jurickson Profar chipped in with 3 hits scoring 2 runs. Despite all the offense, perhaps the best performance came from starter, Diego Markwell. Markwell went 6.0 innings giving up just 1 run on 4 hits. It was his first start in the 2017 WBC after giving the Netherlands 3 solid starts in 2013.

Shairon Martis finished off the game with a scoreless inning. There wasn’t much to write home about for Cuba in the loss. Willian Saavedra was the only Cuba hitter with more than 1 hit. He went 2-for-3 with a double.

The win combined with Japan’s win over Cuba gave the Netherlands and Japan a birth in the semifinals in Los Angeles. Both teams will travel to Los Angeles and wait to see who they will play out of the pool currently playing in San Diego. The single elimination championship round will begin on Monday March 20th with the Netherlands facing the winner from Pool F. Japan will play the next day against the runner up from Pool F with the winners from both games playing for the title.

Full Box Score

Final Pool E Standings from Tokyo:

  1. Japan 3-0
  2. Netherlands 2-1
  3. Israel 1-2
  4. Cuba 0-3

 

Japan Netherlands advance semifinals

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How have our World Baseball Classic predictions been so far?


Back just before the start of the tournament, we made 2017 World Baseball Classic predictions. Today we want to take a look at how those are going and perhaps make some updates on Round 2.

Pool A

We predicted the Netherlands and South Korea would make it out of Pool A. We were half wrong. We expected South Korea to have a better showing, like most everyone else. We did say that Israel would come close to advancing, but I don’t think anyone saw them going 3-0. My feeling was they would come close to beating South Korea and be outs away from advancing. Turns out they would best South Korea and win the whole pool.

Pool B

I think this was the easiest pool to predict. We predicted this right down to the records for all teams. Japan and Cuba advanced. Australia missed out on Round 2 by a single run losing to Cuba 4-3.

Pool C

We got the top 2 right, but did not see Colombia putting up such a great fight. They nearly beat the USA in the first game, beat Canada, and then came inches away from defeating the Dominican Republic. We thought Canada would get by Colombia, but they did not. Canada was rather disappointing in the 2017 WBC and now will have to qualify for the 2021 edition.

Pool D

It almost came down to exactly how we thought it might. We predicted it would be Puerto Rico (although at 2-1 not 3-0) and Venezuela making it to Round 2. We also thought that this would be the pool that would need to play the tiebreaker game, check. This was perhaps the most exciting round, which says a lot with how exciting this tournament has been.

We are sticking to the rest of our predictions. So far we predicted 7 of the 8 in Round 2, and we are sticking to our predictions of the semifinals consisting of USA, Dominican Republic, Japan, Netherlands. That is going out on a limb saying that Puerto Rico will not advance since they have been one of the hottest teams.

It has been a fun WBC so far with so many exciting games and plays, and I have the feeling it will only get better from here on out.

World Baseball Classic predictions

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WBC: Japan defeats Cuba with help from error


Japan defeats Cuba in a thriller in Tokyo.

The game was tied at 5 in the bottom of the 8th inning when a simple play turned more difficult than expected resulting in an error by first baseman Willian Saavedra as he could not come up with a throw from shortstop Alexander Ayala.

The error allowed Nobuhiro Matsuda to reach with 1 out. The next batter, Shogo Akiyama, wasted no time in singling to left putting runners at the corners with 1 out. After a sacrifice fly to right by Seiichi Uchikawa put Japan up 6-5, Tetsuto Yamada hit the first pitch he saw into the left field stands for his second home run of the game and an 8-5 Japan lead.

Yamada had a huge game for Japan. He drove in 3 runs, scored 4 more, and finished the game 3-for-4 with a double and 2 homers.

It was a back and forth game all night long. Cuba took an early 2-1 lead in the 2nd inning on a Yurisbel Gracial home run. However, the top of the Cuba lineup went a combined 0-for-12. It wasn’t until the lineup got to the cleanup hitter Alfredo Despaigne that they started to see production. Despaigne went 3-for-4 scoring twice. But 8 of the 10 total hits from Cuba came from just 3 hitters, Despaigne(3), Gracial (2), and Yosvani Alarcon (3-for-4)

Neither started pitched well. Both gave up 4 runs in 4 innings of work. The difference was the error made by Cuba that opened the door for Japan.

The loss does not eliminate Cuba from a possible semifinal birth, but they do remain the only team in Pool E without a win. Cuba will need a win against the Netherlands in a rather quick turnaround in order to hope for a Japan win over Israel and a 3-way tie at 1-2. Then they just have to hope to win the run differential and make it into the tiebreaker game.

Full Box Score

Round 2 Pool E Standings:

  1. Japan 2-0
  2. Netherlands 1-1
  3. Israel 1-1
  4. Cuba 0-2

Japan defeats Cuba

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Japan Defeats Netherlands in 11 at World Baseball Classic


Japan Wins Extra Inning Affair Against Netherlands

Every time Japan scored, the Netherlands answered except one as Japan defeats Netherlands in extra innings. Japan jumped into the lead in the top of the 2nd inning with a sacrifice fly from Shogo Akiyama. But in the bottom half of the inning the Dutch scored one of its own to tie the game on a solo home run from Jonathan Schoop.

Then in the top of the 3rd inning Japan would put up 4 runs. The big blow was a 3-run home run from Sho Nakata off of Dutch starter Rick van den Hurk who almost got out of the inning. Nakata’s homer just cleared the left field wall landing in the first row of seats. Akiyama continued the scoring with a RBI single, but the lead was short lived.

As they did the first time, the Netherlands quickly came right back with 4 runs of its own in the bottom of the 3rd. Simmons got the scoring going with a RBI single bringing home Randolph Oduber after he doubled. After a Jurickson Profar single and a Xander Bogearts sacrifice fly put the game at 5-3, Wladimir Balentien damaged a ball hitting a hard line drive off the left field foul pole for a 2-run homer to tie it at 5.

Profar was right back in the mix again in the bottom of the 5th. Simmons led off the inning by tomahawking a single to center. Profar followed with a line drive double, his 3rd of the WBC, down the right field line setting up the Dutch with runners at 2nd and 3rd. Kodai Senga got Bogaerts to go down looking for the first out, and then got Balentien swinging. Senga got out of the inning by getting Didi Gregorius out on a grounder to first.

The Netherlands threatened again in the bottom of the 8th loading the bases with 1 out. Gregorius and Schoop led off the inning with back-to-back singles. After a strikeout of Curt Smith, who didn’t look comfortable bunting, Dashenko Ricardo walked to load the bases. Japan made the call to the pen to bring on Hirotoshi Masui with Oduber up. Masui simply overpowered Oduber for the 2nd out in the 8th, then faced Andrelton Simmons. On a 2-0 count, Simmons checks his swing but fouls off the ball inside that appeared to have hit him at first sight. Either way it was an important pitch because it made the count 2-1 and not 3-0. On the next pitch Masui got Simmons to ground out ending the threat.

The Dutch sent up its best hitters in the bottom of the 9th. Profar went down looking at a perfect pitch knee high on the outside corner. Bogaerts followed with a walk before Balentien lined a single in the right-centerfield gap putting runners at the corners with 1 out for Gregorius. With so much tension in the air, Gregorius ripped a 1-0 pitch just foul down the right field line that might have ended the game had it been fair. Gregorius wound up flying out to left but it was not deep enough to score Bogaerts from third. Jonathan Schoop delivered the game-tying hit with a single up the middle off the glove of a diving Ryosuke Kikuchi who made an amazing diving play earlier in the game. Curt Smith would go down swinging to end the inning but not before the Netherlands tied it up at 6.

Japan started the 10th inning with a Shogo Akiyama ground out. Then the fun began. Seiji Kobayashi singled and was followed by a Seiichi Uchikawa double setting up Samurai Japan with a pair of runners in scoring position with just 1 out. That is when the Dutch went to Tom Stuifbergen replacing Loek Van Mil on the mound.

Stuifbergen immediately issued an intentional walk to load the bases and set up the double play, which brought up Norichika Aoki who then grounded into a double play ending the inning and threat. The throw to Smith at first appeared to pull him off the bag, and with MLB replay the call might have been overturned.

In the 11th the tiebreaker rules came into play where the last two batters were placed at 1st and 2nd base to start the inning. Japan immediately sacrificed them over, and Sho Nakata came through again with a 2-run single.

Kazuhisa Makita shut the door on the Dutch in the bottom of the 11th ending the nearly 5 hour game in Tokyo.

Full Box Score

Pool E 2nd Round Standings:

  1. Japan 1-0
  2. Israel 1-0
  3. Netherlands 0-1
  4. Cuba 0-1

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WBC: Pool E Preview from Tokyo


As Round 1 finishes up in North America, Round 2 begins in Asia at the 2017 World Baseball Classic and we are here with a Pool E Preview from Tokyo.

Pool E consists of the top two finishers in Pools A and B from Seoul and Tokyo. In Pool A, Israel shocked everyone by going 3-0 and winning the pool. The Netherlands picked up the no. 2 seed out of Pool A after going 2-1. Both South Korea and Chinese Taipei did not advance.

Coming out of Pool B are two of the top favorites in the tournament, Japan and Cuba. Japan won the pool finishing with a perfect 3-0 record, and they look to be the top of the heap going into Round 2. Cuba finished 2-1 defeating Australia 4-3 to advance to the next round.

Round 2 will be another round robin. The two no. 1 seeds from Round 1 will have an easier schedule simply because they will not play on back-to-back days. The no. 2 seeds will have games on back-to-back days.

Israel will have to keep its hot hand going, and they have the talent to do just that. Do not count them out of advancing to the semifinals. Japan is the clear favorite in the pool. The rest should be interesting to watch. This pool is up for grabs and could make for some interesting baseball.

Schedule for Round 2 in Tokyo, Japan:

Game 1 Saturday March 11th 10PM EST
Cuba vs Israel

Game 2 Sunday March 12th 6AM EST
Japan vs Netherlands

Game 3 Monday March 13th 6AM EST
Netherlands and Israel

Game 4 Tuesday March 14th 6AM EST
Cuba vs Japan

Game 5 Tuesday March 14th 11PM EST
Netherlands vs Cuba

Game 6 Wednesday March 15th 6AM EST
Israel vs Japan

Game 7 Thursday March 16th 6AM EST
Tiebreaker if necessary

All games will take place at the Tokyo Dome. More information on Pool E.

Pool E Preview Tokyo

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Australia Misses Opportunity; Japan Improves to 2-0 at WBC


Australia misses opportunity; Japan improves to 2-0

Australia jumped out to a 1-0 lead on an Allan de San Miguel homer in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Even San Miguel wasn’t sure it was out of the park as he stopped at 2nd base looking around for what happened.

Tim Atherton pitched well for Australia. After a jam in the first inning, which looked like he was in trouble with runners at 2nd and 3rd and just one out, he pitched out of it. The biggest thing he did the rest of the way was work quickly and pitch to contact. He did not waste pitches and that allowed him to go deeper in the game with the pitch count at just 65.

Japan tied the game in the top of the 5th, but the big excitement came in the bottom half of the inning. Australia loaded the bases starting with a hit by pitch of Allan de San Miguel. After a strikeout of Trent Oeltjen, Brad Harman singled which prompted Japan to pull its starter Tomoyuki Sugano. Replacing Sugano was Toshiya Okada who quickly loaded the bases with four wide against David Kandilas.

Okada continued his wildness with 2 straight wide to James Beresford, who then bailed out Japan not being patient. Okada had not come close with 6 straight pitches. His first strike wasn’t taken by Beresford, instead it was hit weakly to second base where Japan turned a double play getting out of the inning with no damage done.

After the missed opportunity for Australia, Japan took its first lead of the game in the 7th. Sho Nakata hit a hanging breaking ball from new Aussie pitcher Matt Williams into the left field stands. Japan would add 2 more runs in the top of the 8th inning on a Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh 2-run homer down the right field line scoring Norichika Aoki who had walked.

The loss does not eliminate Australia, but now they must come back strong in their next game against China early on Thursday in Tokyo. Japan now sits in the driver’s seat in the Pool.

Full Box Score

Pool B Standings in Tokyo, Japan:

  1. Japan 2-0
  2. Cuba 1-1
  3. Australia 0-1
  4. China 0-1

Japan Improves 2-0

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WBC: Japan vs Cuba Game 1 Pool B Preview


Pool B in the 2017 World Baseball Classic will get kicked off on Tuesday with Japan vs Cuba. Two of the favorites not only in Pool B, but to win the tournament, will face off with each other in a rematch of the 2006 World Baseball Classic Championship match.

Japan is looking to get back to the championship game, which it won the first two editions of the tournament in 2006 and 2009. Getting the nod on the hill for Game 1 will be Ayumu Ishikawa from the Chiba Lotte Marines. The right-handed hurler had a great year in 2016 for the Marines going 14-5 with an ERA of just 2.16 over 162.1 innings. He will not blow you away, striking out just 6.1/9 over his career, but has great stuff.

Getting the start for Cuba will be Noelvis Entenza. The big righty has pitched for  most of his career with the Elefantes de Cienfuegos of the Cuban National Series. In 2016, split with two teams, Entenza went 5-1 with an ERA of 3.20 over 70.1 innings. Like Ishikawa, Entenza will not blow you away striking out just 6.3/9 over his 13 year career in Cuba.

Players to Watch

Cuba

Alfredo Despaigne – Slugger and former teammate of Japan starter Ishikawa, Despaigne will lead Team Cuba against the no. 1 world ranked Japan. Playing with Chiba Lotte in 2016, he belted 24 home runs while hitting .280. He will play for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2017.

Roel Santos – The speedy outfielder had a couple of hits in a warm up game against the Orix Buffaloes. He could set the table for the big bats like Despaigne and use his speed to wreck havoc on the bases.

Japan

Tetsuto Yamada – He led off a recent warm up game against a Taiwanese All-Star team with a home run. The young middle infielder from the Yakult Swallows has had back-to-back huge seasons in the NPB with two straight 38 home run seasons.

Yoshitomo Tsutsugo – The Yokohama Bay Stars slugger will be an imposing force in the middle of the Japan lineup. He hit 44 bombs last season for Yokohama while hitting .322. Look for him to have a big impact at the plate the entire WBC.

Japan vs Cuba

Japan vs Cuba

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2017 World Baseball Classic Predictions


Predictions are usually not right, but they are fun and thus we are going to do some 2017 World Baseball Classic Predictions.

I’ve done predictions for many years, and very rarely do they come to fruition. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that they are fun to do and fun to talk about. So with that, I am going to go through each pool and predict what will happen. A lot of this is based on rosters, but not all of it. Some of it is just a gut feel which may help others to see why I am doing what I am doing. I do not think everyone will agree with me either. Of course, that is half the fun. So here we go.

Pool A

Pool A will consist of the following teams: South Korea (host), Chinese Taipei, Netherlands, and Israel.

My Standings:

  1. Netherlands 3-0 (50:1 odds)
  2. South Korea 2-1 (15:1 odds)
  3. Israel 1-2 (200:1 odds)
  4. Chinese Taipei 0-3 (120:1 odds)

I am probably following most predictions in that the two teams I see advancing are South Korea and the Netherlands. However, I am going to predict a few things that others may not like. First, I see the Netherlands winning this pool. I think this comes down to Game 3 on Tuesday March 7th between these two clubs, and I feel that the Dutch will outscore Korea in a shootout. The other “out on a limb” prediction I am going to make is that Israel beats Chinese Taipei, and I think they come within a few innings of advancing but fall to South Korea in their match up. They are one team that will be overlooked and under appreciated, and that is why I think they make a run. I think they will come out and shock South Korea by nearly beating them in Game 1 of pool play.

Pool B

Pool B consists of Japan (host), Cuba, China, and Australia.

  1. Japan 3-0 (3:1 odds)
  2. Cuba 2-1 (12:1 odds)
  3. Australia 1-2 (200:1 odds)
  4. China 0-3 (200:1 odds)

In Tokyo I feel Japan will dominate only having a contest with Cuba. They are the class of Pool B and a title contender. The rest of the field I think will be fun and interesting to watch. Japan is one of the favorites (3rd best odds according to Vegas Insider) with Cuba not being too far behind. I think 3rd place comes down to Australia vs China and fear that is really all they are playing for. Australia could make a run with a shock against Cuba, but I don’t see that happening. China is really the unknown here, but don’t look for them to finish higher than third.

Pool C 

Pool C consists of United States (host), Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Canada.

  1. Dominican Republic 3-0 (5:2 odds)
  2. United States 2-1 (11:5 odds)
  3. Canada 1-2 (60:1 odds)
  4. Colombia 0-3 (120:1 odds)

This is one pool I am really excited to see. The USA is favored by many to win the whole thing. I am not convinced. I think they struggle to make it out of pool play just getting past both Canada and Colombia. I see the Dominican to dominate the pool and win easily against all three opponents.

Pool D

Pool D consists of Mexico (host), Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Italy.

  1. Puerto Rico 2-1 (10:1 odds)
  2. Venezuela 2-1 (6:1 odds)
  3. Mexico 1-2 (40:1 odds)
  4. Italy 1-2 (120:1 odds)

This might be the most wide open pool. It is the only one where I am going to predict the host country doesn’t make it out of the round. I think it all comes down to the final game between Mexico and Venezuela, and I am going with Venezuela. I think Italy will shock a team (perhaps Mexico) and create havoc in the pool play, and don’t look for anyone here to go undefeated. It is going to be a wide open pool. This also might be the only pool where the first round tiebreaker game is needed, although I could see it possibly used in Pool C as well.

Round 2

Pool E in Tokyo, Japan will consist of Cuba, Netherlands, Japan (host), and South Korea.

This pool will be a great one to watch. I see Japan and the Netherlands coming out of it to advance to the semifinal round. This will be a hotly contested round, but I see it going down in the following fashion:

  1. Japan 2-1
  2. Netherlands 2-1
  3. Cuba 1-2
  4. South Korea 1-2

Pool F in San Diego will consist of USA, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.

A lot of people are high on Puerto Rico, and rightfully so. However, I think this is where they fail to advance. There will be a lot of talent here and this will come down to the final games in the pool, and very well might need a tiebreaker game for a team to advance.

  1. Dominican Republic 2-1
  2. USA 2-1
  3. Puerto Rico 2-1
  4. Venezuela 0-3

Finals 

The Finals will take place in Los Angeles. And while I think we will see a new team garner a medal, I do not think we have a team win its first championship. Instead, I think we have a match up of the only two winners so far in Japan and the Dominican Republic.

Semifinals:

Dominican Republic 5,  Netherlands 2

Japan 3, USA 1

Championship

Japan 3, Dominican Republic 2 (11 Innings)

So there you have it. I am calling for an extra inning championship game where Japan reclaims its title. The Vegas favorite is the USA, but I see them coming up short in their quest for the title.

Now don’t get me wrong, I will be pulling for the USA in any game they play. At the same time I will be pulling for teams like Italy, Israel, and Australia to win since it will only help those countries going forward. I would love to see one of them advance to Round 2, but I just do not see it happening just yet. Italy advanced in 2013, but I feel their pool this go around will be stronger. But it is not out of the realm of possibility.

I’d love to hear what you think and who you think will win it all.

2017 World Baseball Classic Predictions

 

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Shohei Otani will not pitch for Japan in 2017 World Baseball Classic


When the 2017 World Baseball Classic kicks off in just over a month, the world will not see one of the most dynamic superstars in the game today pitch. Shohei Otani has announced he will not pitch for Samurai Japan during the WBC. However, there is an outside chance he might hit.

Otani is a 22-year old superstar in the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan. He pitches and hits for the Nippon Ham Fighters, and last year he showed what he can do on both sides of the ball.

As a pitcher, Otani has gone 39-13 over the past four seasons with the Ham Fighters on the hill. He has tossed 12 complete games, including 6 shutouts. He has posted a career 2.66 ERA while striking out 10.3 per 9. In 2016, Otani went 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA while striking out 174 over 140 innings.

But it does not stop there. He also hit in 104 games last season posting an OPS of 1.004. He hit 22 home runs and batted .322 with a .416 OBP. He is simply a beast at the plate and on the hill. And he is just 22.

It remains to be seen if he will hit during the WBC, but due to a recurring soreness in his right ankle.

Japan opens the WBC with Cuba on Tuesday March 7th. The Samurai are hosing Round 1 in Tokyo where they will face off with Cuba, China, and Australia. They are looking to reclaim the title they lost in 2013 after winning the first two installments of the WBC.

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New Tournament with South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan


There is a new tournament in town. Nippon Professional Baseball announced a new three-way tournament between Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. The national teams from each country will compete with one another this November 16-19 at the Tokyo Dome.

The teams will play a round-robin before the top two teams facing off with one another  in the final. It is being called the Asia Championship.

Players eligible for the tournament will be those under 24 and it is limited to players in their third year or less. Each team can also add three players that are over aged. The NPB is looking to help the young talent leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Currently the tournament is scheduled to be held this year and in 2021 in conjunction with the KBO and CBPL.

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Japan Announces Most of 2017 World Baseball Classic Roster


Japan has announced most of its roster for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. According to Japan Times reporter Jason Coskrey, Japan has filled 27 of its 28 roster spots as they look to reclaim the title they lost four years ago.

Japan added eight players to the 19 they released in December. So far there is only one MLB player on the roster in the Houston Astros outfielder Norichika Aoki. However, even without the likes of Yu Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka, or Kenta Maeda that many in the USA will know, Samurai Japan will be loaded with talent starting with super-star Shohei Otani of the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Otani, the 22-year old pitcher/slugger is definitely one to watch. Last season he pitched in 21 games, starting 20, and went 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA over 140.0 innings. He struck out 174 and only walked 45 tossing 4 complete games. He did all of this while slugging 22 home runs and hitting .322 over 323 at bats. He is the rare phenom that not only hits, but is also a lights out pitcher on the hill.

Rounding out the rest of the roster are:

Pitchers:

Hiroki Matsui Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
Tomoyuki Kanno Yomiuri Giants
Akiyoshi Ryo Tokyo Yakult Swallows
Norimoto Nakayama Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
Naoki Miyanishi Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
Shohei Otani Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
Shintaro Fujinami Hanshin Tigers
Hiroshi Masui Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
Ishikawa Ayumu Chiba Lotte Marines
Toshiya Okada Chunichi Dragons
Kazuhisa Makita Saitama Seibu Lions
Sengaku Chika Fukuoka Softbank Hawks
Hirano Hirano Orix Buffaloes

 Catchers:

Seiji Kobayashi Yomiuri Giants
Ryota Ono Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
Kimihiro Shima Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles

 Infielders:

Norihiro Matsuda Fukuoka Softbank Hawks
Ryosuke Kikuchi Hiroshima Toyo Carp
Hayato Sakamoto Yomiuri Giants
Sho Nakada Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
Tetsuto Yamada Tokyo Yakult Swallows

 Outfielders:

Seiichi Uchikawa Fukuoka Softbank Hawks
Norichika Aoki Houston Astros
Ryosuke Hirata Chunichi Dragons
Yoshi Tsuyoshi Yokohama DeNA Baystars
Seiya Suzuki Hiroshima Toyo Carp
Shogo Akiyama Saitama Seibu Lions

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Team Australia Announces Pre-World Baseball Classic Tour in Korea


Team Australia announced its pre-tournament tour in South Korea in preparation for the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

The team will feature a number of Major League players along with some young talent from the ABL. Australia enters the WBC in Pool B in Tokyo where they will take on the host team, China, and Cuba. This will be the fourth appearance for Australia in the WBC, and they are looking for their first Round 2 appearance.

The team will travel to Seoul on February 24 before two days of workouts. On the 27th Australia will take on an unconfirmed Korean club. On the 28th Australia will take on no. 3 world ranked South Korea in Seoul. Korea defeated Australia in the 2013 WBC 6-0.

On March 1 the team will travel to Japan and take on the Hanshin Tigers and Orix Buffaloes, team teams in the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization, Japan’s major league.

Australia’s first game in the 2017 WBC will be Wednesday March 8 7 PM JST (5 AM EST) against Japan.

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2017 World Baseball Classic: A Look at Pool A & B


We are just seven weeks away from the first pitch in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. As teams finalize rosters, players will soon begin reporting to spring training where they will begin preparing for the  fourth installment of the tournament.

In 2013 the Dominican Republic finally dethroned the two-time champion Japanese. The Dominican Republic defeated Puerto Rico in the championship game 3-0.

Each of the four pools have at the very least three strong teams that will compete for the two spots in the second round. So let’s go pool by pool and see how the teams have fared in the past. Today we will look at Pool’s A and B, and tomorrow we will take a look at Pool’s C and D.

Pool A:

Israel – This is Israel’s first time participating in the World Baseball Classic. They qualified through the Brooklyn Qualifier late in 2016. The team went 3-0 in the qualifier defeating Great Britain twice, including 9-1 in the championship game, and Brazil once by a 1-0 score. Israel just missed the 2013 WBC by losing to Spain 9-7 in the championship of a qualifier. They look to surprise someone, and they will need to, to move on.

South Korea – Back for a fourth time, South Korea recently moved up to no. 3 on the WBSC World Rankings which is their highest ranking ever. They look to continue moving up the ranks with some huge wins at the WBC. Korea finished runner-up in 2009 to Japan for its highest finish so far.

Chinese Taipei – This is their fourth time in the tournament as well. Their highest finish so far has been to advance to Round 2 in 2013. They will be searching for their first medal in the tournament and will be poised to move onto Round 2 if they can get passed the Netherlands.

Netherlands – They might have been the surprise of the tournament last go around finishing fourth. This is their fourth venture into the tournament and they look to improve on their high finish last time. They will have a strong showing but will have to defeat either South Korea or Chinese Taipei to move on.

Pool B

Japan – With two titles under their belt they are the most accomplished team in the tournament by far. Ranked no. 1 in the WBSC World Rankings, Japan will look to return to the top spot they lost last time out. A third place finish in 2013 would have been seen as a good thing for any team, except maybe the two-time defending champions. Look for a strong showing from them once again.

Cuba – Once the power in international tournaments, Cuba still has the power to make a run deep in this tournament. Their highest finish was a runner-up in 2006 in the inaugural event. Since then they have not advanced out of Round 2. I look for them to once again advance to Round 2, but go no further even though they are capable.

Australia – This is the wild card team in Pool B to me. If they can get passed a good Cuba team, they can advance to Round 2, which they have never done in the past. They had to get to this point by winning a qualifier, which they did quite easily. However, they just get passed Cuba or stun Japan to advance.

China – This is China’s fourth appearance in the tourney. They have never gotten out of Round 1 in the past but have made strides and have won at least one game in the past two tournaments. They might shock someone and hurt a team’s chances to advance by picking up a win like they did to Chinese Taipei in 2009.

Check back tomorrow for a quick look at the other two pools and soon we will start going over rosters as some of them are announced to see just how far they might be able to go.

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South Korea Climbs to No.3 in Baseball World Rankings


South Korea has climbed to the no. 3 spot in the WBSC Baseball World Rankings, its highest ranking ever moving passed Chinese Taipei. The top two spots remain the same with Japan leading the way once again, while the United States continues to be a strong no. 2.

South Korea’s climb moves them even closer to the United States in the second spot. Japan still commands a strong lead over the pack. Rounding out the top 5 are Chinese Taipei and Cuba.

The top representative from Europe comes in at no. 9 with the Netherlands, followed closely by Italy at no. 10.

Men’s Baseball Final 2016 World Rankings Top 10:

1. Japan
2. USA
3. South Korea
4. Chinese Taipei
5. Cuba
6. Mexico
7. Venezuela
8. Canada
9. Netherlands
10. Italy

Complete World Rankings

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Japan: Carp Win on Walk-Off Dropped Infield Fly


You hear people say it almost daily in the game of baseball, but I’ve never seen this before. I’ve never even heard of it happening. But in a game between the Hiroshima Toyo Carp and the Yomiuri Giants the Carp won on a walk-off dropped infield fly rule.

So let me set up what happened. It was the bottom of the ninth with the game tied at 2. Giants reliever Scott Mathieson is on the hill when Carp infielder Tetsuya Kokubo at the plate.

That is former Major Leaguer Juan Francisco, who just recently came to Japan, at first base when the miscommunication occurs and the ball drops.

This is exactly why the infield fly rule is in place. Without it the Giants would have done simply as Francisco did and touch home and then throw to another bag for a double play. However, once the infield fly was in effect, although it doesn’t appear it was ever called, the force was no longer in effect.

It seems that the infield fly rule was only enacted on the play after the Hiroshima coaches argue the play. Then the umpires get the call correct. I don’t see the umpires in the field but the home plate umpire definitely has the call wrong as he rules the runner from third out at the plate. However, if you watch the end of the video when they show it again it appears the third base umpire, though late, does make the signal for the infield fly.

What a way to lose.

Hat Tip to Brian Moore for sharing the video.

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Groups Unveiled for the U12 Baseball World Cup


The World Baseball Softball Confederation announced the groups for the upcoming U12 Baseball World Cup to take place in Taiwan later this summer. Twelve teams will compete for the title that the US will defend after winning the 2013 edition of the tournament in Taiwan.

The top four nations will compete in the event with the top two, Japan and the USA, competing in the same group for the first stage.

Group A
1. Cuba (World No. 3)
2. Chinese Taipei (No. 4)
3. South Korea (No. 8)
4. Venezuela (No. 10)
5. Brazil (No. 15)
6. Russia (No. 32)

Group B
1. Japan (No. 1)
2. USA (No. 2; Defending U12 World Champions)
3. Mexico (No. 12)
4. Australia (No. 14)
5. Nicaragua (No. 16)
6. France (No. 27)

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Europe gets historic victory, defeats No. 1 Japan 6-2 in global baseball showing in Tokyo


Press Release WBSC

TOKYO – Debuting in a two-game series at the Tokyo Dome against the top-ranked nation in the world, Europe recorded its historic first victory for the continent, defeating Japan 6-2 to split the two-game series.

Like in Game 1, Europe managed to get out of the gates early, tagging Samurai starter Takahiro Matsuba for back-to-back doubles in the second inning, authored by Italy’s Mario Chiarini and Spain’s Blake Ochoa, which put Europe up 2-0.

A towering three-run home run by the Netherlands’ Yurendell Decaster in the bottom of the third gave Europe a 5-0 lead. (VIDEO: Decaster HR)

With the cushion, Europe starter Diegomar Marwell (Netherlands) kept Japan’s bats quiet through three innings, only allowing three hits.

In the 5th, Tetsuto Yamada launched a solo home run and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo’s RBI single cut Europe’s lead to 5-2.

Europe manager Steve Janssen handed the ball to Germany’s Luke Sommer, who pitched a clean 6th to 8th innings.

Dutch flamethrower Tom Stuifbergen pitched the final inning, using a 95 mph/153 kmh fastball close out the game and register the save for Europe.

Sommer was credited with the win. Japan starter Matsuba took the loss.

The historic win for Europe follows the announcement by baseball’s world governing body, WBSC, to establish Team Europe. Europe was immediately pitted against the world No. 1 Japanese National Team, “Samurai Japan”, made up of top stars from Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). The majority of players on Japan’s current roster were part of the Samurai selection that faced Team MLB in a best-of-five series, won by hosts Japan, last November.

Both WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari and NPB Commissioner Katsuhiko Kumazaki went down on the field Wednesday night to congratulate the European team, following their 6-2 win and two exciting contests in as many nights.

“These two highly competitive games send another message to the world that Europe can compete with anyone and that our sport is more global than ever,” President Fraccari said.

Two European countries, No. 5 Netherlands and No. 11 Italy, are among the elite field heading to the inaugural Premier 12™ that will unite baseball’s top twelve countries.

Samurai Japan manager Hiroki Kokubo said, “We have to give them credit. They’ve come a long way and played the game at a high level.”

“The victory was a historic one, as it was the debut of the multinational Team Europe,” The Japan Times reported.

Head coach Janssen (Netherlands National Team manager) and bench coach Marco Mazzieri (Italy National Team manager) compiled a roster of 28 European players from six countries: (by world rank) Netherlands, Italy, No. 17 Spain, No. 18 Germany, No. 20 Czech Republic and No. 27 France.

No. 36 Belgium and No. 39 Austria were also represented as part of Europe’s coaching staff.

Yokohama BayStars rising star Tsutsugo, 23, was one of the bright spots for the Samurai in the series, collecting a pair of hits and RBIs. “I would like come up with positive results during the [NPB] season [that are] worthy of a Samurai Japan member,” he said.

Over 44,000 people attended the historic matches, with an increase in attendance of approximately 2,000 more fans for Game 2, following Samurai Japan’s thrilling 4-3 come-from-behind victory in Game 1 Tuesday night.

The two-game series was broadcast free-to-air nationally across Japan by the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS), while Eurosport 2 transmitted the games live to potentially 73 million households across more than 50 European nations.

Prior to the start of Game 2 there was a moment of silence to honor the victims and raise awareness of ongoing recovery efforts four years after the 11 March 2011 Tsunami devastated the Fukushima region.

NPB — the second highest-attended major sports league in the world in 2014 (approx. 23 million) and WBSC Associate Member — hosted the Europe versus Japan two-game series.

Umpires from the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL; WBSC Associate Member) officiated the two games.

Leading sports performance brand Asics backed Europe as the official kit sponsor.

The game ball that marked Europe’s first-ever pitch in Game 1 Tuesday night will be going to Japan’s Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, along with Team Europe’s official game jersey.

In the two-game series, Japan outhit Europe 16 to 13. Japan played spotless defense with the glove, committing no errors on defense. Europe also flashed the leather, executing a pickoff and making only one error on defense.

Copyright © 2015 WBSC. All rights reserved.

Posted in Asia, EuropeComments (0)

Global Baseball Match: Europe Reveals Starting Lineup #EURvsJPN


TOKYO, Japan – The All-Euro team announced its starting lineup for the first game of the Global Baseball Match against Japan. The game will take place later today in the Tokyo Dome.

The starting ten (with DH) will feature players from only three countries: Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands.

Europe manager Steve Janssen revealed the lineup via Twitter:

 

1. Juan Carlos Infante 3B (Italy)
2. Alessandro Vaglio 2B (Italy)
3. Curt Smith 1B (Netherlands)
4. Fernando Martinez RF (Spain)
5. Kaliam Sams LF (Netherlands)
6. Yurendell De Caster DH (Netherlands)
7. Oscar Angelo SS (Spain)
8. Ricardo Daschenko C (Netherlands)
9. Stefano Desimoni CF (Italy)
Rob Cordemans P (Netherlands)

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Global Baseball Match: Rob Cordemans Named Europe Starter for Game 1


TOKYO, Japan – It is only a few hours away from the big event of Europe versus Japan in the first ever Global Baseball Match.

Not long ago Europe manager Steven Janssen announced that his starting pitcher for Game 1 will be Dutch right-hander Rob Cordemans.

Rob has been a fixture on the Dutch National Team for years and has been a top European pitcher for the past ten years or more. He will be up against a stout Samurai Japan team.

The All-Euro team is behind the Japanese team in terms of training so far this year. Weather forced the European team’s warm up game. They have been forced to rely mainly on training indoors with a few outside practices. While Japan has already played a few spring games.

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Global Baseball Match: Japan Announces Starting Pitchers; Europe Announces Schedule


The Global Baseball Match between the Samurai Japan and the All-Euro team is approaching quickly. The two teams will meet next Tuesday and Wednesday in the Tokyo Dome for a pair of games.

Team Europe arrived in Japan yesterday and has announced its schedule. And there is news coming out now from the Japan squad as well as they have announced their starting pitchers for the two games.

Starting in Game 1 will be Daichi Osera of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Osera, a 23-year old right hander, won the 2014 Rookie of the Year Award this past season posting a 10-8 record with a 4.05 ERA.

Pitching Game 2 will be the Orix Buffaloes Takahiro Matsuba. He went 8-1 in 2014 in 21 starts. He posted an ERA of just 2.77 in his second year in the league.

Schedule courtesy IBAF.org

Friday, 6 March: Visit To Fukushima – Four Years Later

Following the team workout session Friday, members of Team Europe will visit the Fukushima region that was devastated on 11 March 2011. The area is still in the process of recovery from the disaster, and the visit is intended to pay tribute and raise awareness of the region’s ongoing recovery efforts.

Saturday, 7 March: Baseball Clinic with School Children

School children will join the team and have the opportunity to play ball and engage with the European players in a one-hour session after Europe’s official team practice.

Sunday, 8 March: Test match vs. Yomiuri Giants minor league team

On Sunday, Team Europe will play a friendly match versus the minor league affiliate of the Yomiuri Giants. Europe’s coaching staff will get its first opportunity to evaluate the team and get in some ‘live’ game experience.

Monday, 9 March: Practice Session And Press Conference

Team Europe’s final workout will take place at QVC Stadium.

Representatives from both Samurai Japan and Team Europe will attend a press conference at QVC Stadium. The time of the press conference is scheduled for 13:00 – 13:30local time. 

Tuesday, 10 March: Europe vs Japan Game 1 – 18:00

Europe will make its debut on the international stage as the visiting team, wearing their road grey jersey.

Photo shoots for both Europe and Japan will also be organized at the Tokyo Dome prior to pre-game batting practice.

Wednesday, 11 March: Europe vs Japan Game 2 – 18:00

Europe will play its first-ever game as the home team, sporting the white jersey. A special Opening Ceremony will be held prior to Game 2 at 17:25.

Broadcast Coverage

Both games of the historic Europe vs Japan Series will be broadcast ‘live’ in Europe via Eurosport 2, in addition to national coverage in Japan.

Posted in Asia, Europe, NewsComments (0)

Andruw Jones Withdraws from Europe vs. Japan Series


Team Europe lost a high profile player today as 10-time MLB Gold Glove winner Andruw Jones withdrew from the team for its upcoming trip to Japan.

Jones would have been a representative of the Netherlands for Team Europe in the Global Baseball Match coming up next week in Japan.

He released the following statement through the World Baseball Softball Confederation:

“It is with tremendous regret that I announce the difficult decision that I will not be able to represent Team Europe in its historic debut versus the Japanese National Baseball Team in front of passionate and familiar Japanese fans. While I had initially planned to be part of Europe’s roster, new duties may call upon me to be away from home for the next several months, so spending as much time as I can at home with my family and children who are in school is the number one priority for me right now. It remains a great honour to have been selected by Coach Janssen to wear the Europe jersey and I wish Team Europe and the Samurai Japan Global Baseball event nothing but success. I will be following the games and hope this great initiative can continue to further globalise our sport.”

Jones spent 17 years in the Major Leagues and the past two in Japan as part of the NPB. The rest of the team will arrive today in Japan and begin workouts for the games tomorrow.

Posted in Asia, Europe, NewsComments (0)

Europe Logo and Jersey Revealed for Global Baseball Match Against Japan


The All-Euro team for the upcoming Global Baseball Match versus Japan has revealed both its logo and jersey.

A team of Europeans will take on some of the best from Japan in a two game series in March at the Tokyo Dome. The games will be held March 10 and 11.

The jersey, pictured below, will feature the home flag of each player’s home country on the right shoulder. Seven flags will be featured between the players and coaches representing Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.

Asics is the official apparel sponsor for Team Europe.

Jpeg

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All-Euro Team News and Notes for Global Baseball Match


In the past few days there has been a few notes about the first ever All-Euro team that will take on the Samurai Japan team in March.

First of all, the All-Euro team will play an exhibition game against the Yomiuri Giants.

The Global Baseball Match with Japan will take place on March 10 and 11 (10am CET, Eurosport 2). The team will travel to Japan on March 3, and after a few days of workouts will take on the Giants. The exhibition game will take place on March 8 at the Giants training complex in Kawasaki. The Giants will use minor league players and will be a good tune up for the All-Euro team.

In other news, Rick van den Hurk has been scratched due to an injury for the All-Euro team. In his place will be 27-year old right hander Mike Bolsenbroek. Bolsenbroek pitched three years in the Phillies minor league system. The Dutch native has pitched most recently for the German powerhouse Buchbinder Legionaere.

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Eurosport 2 to Broadcast Global Baseball Match between Japan and All-Euro Team


The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) announced earlier today that the upcoming Global Baseball Match between the No. 1 world ranked Japan versus an All-Euro team to take place in Tokyo on March 10 and 11 will be televised in Europe by Eurosport 2.

Eurosport 2 broadcasts to over 73 million homes across 51 counties and in 18 different languages. It has obtained the broadcasting rights for the inaugural event including online and mobile devices in all languages.

This is a big step for European baseball in opening up the door for many to view via television and online to some of the best baseball players on the continent and in Japan.

This could help spur more interest in the upcoming Premier 12 tournament that will take place in November featuring the world’s top 12 ranked teams. In the world top 12 there are two European nations that will compete in No. 5 Netherlands and No. 11 Italy. Both countries will have a strong presence on the All-Euro team.

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Polls

Who will win the 2017 World Baseball Classic?

  • Puerto Rico (31%, 27 Votes)
  • Dominican Republic (13%, 11 Votes)
  • USA (13%, 11 Votes)
  • Mexico (11%, 10 Votes)
  • Other (8%, 7 Votes)
  • Cuba (8%, 7 Votes)
  • Venezuela (6%, 5 Votes)
  • Netherlands (5%, 4 Votes)
  • Japan (5%, 4 Votes)
  • Chinese Taipei (1%, 1 Votes)
  • South Korea (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Canada (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 88

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