The United States won't be the best baseball team in the World. Japan, on the other hand, could be for the second time.
The Japanese team, behind Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, eliminated Team USA from the World Baseball Classic by beating them 9-4 in the semifinals at Dodger Stadium tonight.
I had a few random thoughts while watching the game....
I really, really like the fact the Indians traded for Mark DeRosa.
On a star-studded team, he seemed to be the in middle of everything offensively. Tonight, as Team USA trailed 6-2, He supplied an eighth inning double down the left field line. Ryan Braun and Brian McCann both scored on the play to cut the lead to two.
DeRosa advanced to third when left fielder Norichika Aoki bobbled the ball.
Defensively, DeRosa has played four different positions -- third base, outfield, second base and, tonight, first base -- throughout the WBC.
His versatility is a welcome sight.
While I was delighted by DeRosa tonight, I was sickened by Adam Dunn.
Dunn played at least two balls horribly in right field. The first one was triple by Akinori Iwamura in the fourth inning, A Sportscenter anchor put it best on the highlights when he simply said, "Dunn isn't exactly a Gazzelle out there."
The second was in the bottom of the eighth inning when Hiroyuki Nakajima doubled to right. Dunn first took a horrible angle and then let centerfielder Curtis Granderson get the ball instead as Ichiro scored and Japan stretched its lead back out to 9-4.
I really think the fourth inning play-by-play says it all for Dunn:
A Inaba singled to shallow right center.
M Ogasawara singled to shallow center, A Inaba to second.
K Fukudome safe at first on error by second baseman B Roberts, A Inaba scored, M Ogasawara advanced to third on play.
K Johjima hit sacrifice fly to right, M Ogasawara scored.
A Iwamura tripled to deep right, K Fukudome scored.
M Kawasaki singled to right center, A Iwamura scored.
I Suzuki grounded out to third, M Kawasaki to second.
H Nakajima doubled to right center, M Kawasaki scored.
J Grabow relieved R Oswalt.
N Aoki grounded out to second.
Exploiting a weakness much?
Dunn also got the golden sombrero at the plate as he struck out three times in four at bats.
I know Dunn hits a lot of pretty home runs, but I am glad he does it in another uniform.
The Japanese can swing the bats
Kind of random, but Japanese players always impress with me their level, balanced swings. No matter where the ball is pitched they all seem to keep such a level plain that allows the bat to remain in the contact zone longer than most.