Here is your WBC Update for Monday
THE UNITED STATES HAS BEEN ELIMINATED
USA: 4, Japan: 9
I wish there were more good things to say about this game, or at least about our team. I feel as if the USA wasn't beaten so much as outmanaged.
For starters, the Japanese play a more small-ball-contact-hitting style of baseball. Yes there are some sluggers, a couple thumpers, etc, but we saw a lot of small bloops, seeing-eye grounders, etc. I felt we didn't prepare properly for this, especially in terms of the infield defense. Having Derek Jeter playing SS and Jimmy Rollins - arguably the best fielder on the USA squad - riding the pine as the DH was absolutely foolish. We needed a strong middle infield of Jimmy Rollins and Brian Roberts. David Wright is solid 3B, and for 1B? DeRosa wasn't an awful choice. Dunn wasn't a GREAT choice, but mistakes at 1B are far more recoverable than mistakes in RF.
In terms of the pitching, Oswalt was left in for 2 or 3 batters too many. Now, I shake my fist at Davey Johnson for this, but every manager in baseball, period, makes this mistake, multiple times a season. It just happened that in this case, Johnson made the mistake on a global stage. I also disagree with his choice in Hanrahan taking the mound after the US pulled within 2 of Japan. We have a bullpen full of closers and strong setup men, so go with Scot Shields, go with JJ Putz, go with Jonathan Broxton. All better choices than Hanrahan. You put Hanrahan in when we're up by 7.
In terms of the bench, I'm not horribly disappointed with it, as there wasn't really anybody left on the bench. PHing Longoria wasn't a terrible decision, as he did work a full count before striking out, but perhaps Chris Iannetta would've been a better choice. Iannetta was the best (OPS) batter on the team during the WBC, and we all know has excellent OBP skills. He might have been a better choice to continue the rally, but this is somewhat of a nitpicking frustration.
You've all heard my complaints about the USA's management. I'm going to drop it from here.
Kudos to the Japanese squad. They outpitched us, they outfielded us, they outran us, and they outmanaged us.
I just wish that the USA had really put its best forward to face the Japanese, as I feel we did them a disservice by not having the best that the USA has to offer - in pitching, fielding, batting and especially managing.
Lines of the game:
USA DH Jimmy Rollins: 4-4, R, BB, SB, 3B
Japan SS Hiroyuki Nakajima: 2-5, 2RBI, 2 2B
Japan 3B Munenori Kawasaki: 2-4, 2R, RBI
Tonight at 7:00PM MT on ESPN, Japan will face Korea for like the 273rd time this tournament. A further cry for more fine-tuning of the WBC schedule. However, this really is a matchup of the best teams in this tournament.
Japan will be starting SP Hisashi Iwakuma against Korea's Jung Keun Bong.
Iwakuma is sporting a 0.73 ERA in the tournament, and Bong is coming back with a 0.66 ERA.
Best of luck to both clubs. I think Korea has the edge, but I am not discounting Japan for a second.
We'll get ‘em in 2013.