MIYAZAKI – Koji Yamamoto’s hopefuls for Samurai Japan in the upcoming World Baseball Classic got off to a lackluster start Sunday, falling 7-0 in a warmup game against the Hiroshima Carp.
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles right-hander Masahiro Tanaka allowed two runs on three consecutive hits in the first inning at Sunmarine Stadium.
“I was a little off from what I had imagined,” said Tanaka, who went 10-4 with a 1.87 ERA for the Eagles last season. “I didn’t have good balance with my mind and body. I couldn’t pitch at my own pace. It all depends on my thinking. I’ll have to pitch while using my body in a full effort.”
Daisuke Yamai of the Chunichi Dragons, the third pitcher up, also struggled with control issues and yielded two runs in the fifth, while Yomiuri Giants lefty Tetsya Utsumi surrendered a three-run homer to substitute Masamitsu Suzuki in the ninth.
Just two weeks away from the start of the WBC, which Japan is bidding to win for the third time in a row, Yamamoto did not appear concerned about Tanaka’s rough start. “He is still in a situation where he’s just getting used to things,” Yamamoto said.
Hiroshima starter Kenta Maeda pitched two scoreless frames and escaped a jam with runners at the corners when he got Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters stalwart Atsunori Inaba to ground out in an inning-ending double play in the second.
Japan, whose team consists of 33 players but will be narrowed down to a final roster of 28 after a practice game against the Seibu Lions on Monday, was held to just three hits.