The powerful Japanese needed just seven innings to defeat Korea in the World Baseball Classic earlier today. The victory ensures Japan will be traveling to San Diego next weekend for the second round.
Japan outhit Korea 14 to 4, as Ichiro, Hiroyuki Nakajima, and Kenji Johjima each had three hits. Johjima and Shuichi Murata both belted home runs. Murata’s blast was his second in two days. Top to bottom, the Japanese batting order is potent and wears down opposing pitchers.
In typical fashion, Daisuke Matsuzaka threw a lot of pitches in his four innings of work. After Korean first baseman Tae Hyun Kim blasted his own two-run homer in the bottom of the first, Dice-K and the rest of the Japanese staff pretty much stifled the Korean bats.
North Americans know Ichiro and Dice-K, and some buzz has been building about pitcher Yu Darvish, but who among us knew how good Murata and Nakajima are? Both are fluid in the field at third and short, respectively. Both are sweet swingers, and Nakajima even has superior speed.
Watch out, World. The WBC crown will not be taken easily from these warriors.