World Baseball Classic Semi-Final 2: Japan – USA 9-4
USA 101 000 020 4 9 3 JPN 010 500 03X 9 10 1
Japan receives a chance to defend its World Baseball Classic from 2006. They out-slugged Team USA on Sunday at the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles 9-4 to set up a meeting with arch rival Korea in the 2009 World Baseball Classic final tonight. It will be the fifth match between these two teams in the tournament.
The American squad started strong into semi-final two, taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first thanks to Brian Roberts, who smacked the second pitch of the game over the fence in center field for a leadoff homerun. Kenji Johjima evened the score in the second frame with a sac fly, before David Wright doubled in Jimmy Rollins (4-4, BB) for another one-run lead for Team USA.
However the advantage was short-lived. Japan picked up the pace and decided the outcome in the fourth. Atsunori Inaba tied the game, when second baseman Roberts couldn’t field the groundball by Kosuke Fukudome, starting a five-run rally. Johjima followed with his second sac fly of the night to put Team Nippon up in front. Akinori Iwamura, Munenori Kawasaki and Hiroyuki Nakajima extended the lead with a RBI triple, a RBI single and a RBI double to make it 6-2.
Team USA tried to come back in the eighth, when Mark DeRosa cut the deficit to two runs with a two-run double. But Evan Longoria and Brian Roberts struck out, respective grounded out with DeRosa standing at third to end the threat. In the bottom of the period, Munenori Kawasaki reached with two outs on a throwing error by shortstop Derek Jeter, driving home Yasuyuki Kataoka. Two more players scored on a single by Ichiro Suzuki and a double by Nakajima to seal the win.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (W 1-0) needed 98 pitches (57 strikes) to go 4 2/3 innings, but he held the American offense in check and picked up the win. Yu Darvish struck out two in a scoreless ninth. He allowed five hits, two runs and three base on balls, striking out four. Roy Oswalt (L 0-1) gave up six hits, six runs (4 ER) and a walk in 3 2/3 innings.
Despite the loss in the semi-finals, it was a successful World Baseball Classic for Team USA, which made a much better impression in comparison to the inaugural edition back in 2006, especially considering the many withdrawals and injuries before and during the tournament.