Oh Boy! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Ok, so this is a little anticlimactic. I have the greatest respect for Japan and Korea's baseball organizations, and applaud their players for their hardwork. But seriously? This game? AGAIN? What are we going to see that we didn't see last game? Or the game before that. Or the three before that. Or the three from the last WBC.
Well, at least we know the teams are fairly matched. The four previous games were split evenly between the two teams, and in 2006, Korea beat Japan twice, before losing to their rival in the semi-finals.
Game Time: 9:00 PM ET
Probable Pitchers: Hisashi Iwakuma and Jung-Keun Bong. Iwakuma pitched very well in the Pool A seeding game against Korea, but took a 1-0 loss, in part because Korea's pitching, with Bong starting, was marginally better. Bong was fantastic again against Japan in their first Round 2 matchup, giving up 1 run on three hits in 5 1/3 innings. Yu Darvish threw fewer than 30 pitches last night, so he is available to enter the game in relief, and I would expect to see him if Iwakuma gets in trouble, or to close out the game like he did against the US. Suk-Min Yoon and Daisuke Matsuzaka, the semifinal starters, are unavailable for this game, and so is Takahiro Mahara - who threw exactly 30 pitches last night (Were the Japanese rule cards ALSO improperly translated? Jesus christ, WBC people. Get with it.)
Other: Although I mocked Jorge Cantu for calling Korea and Japan the same team, it's true that they have very similar strengths - pitching and defense. (Even Shin-Shoo Choo admits it). I'm sure this game will be very slap-hitty and fundamental-y. With Japan missing Shuichi Murata, I think Korea definitely has the advantage in power potential, but whether it'll show up or not against premium pitching (You'll notice that high-score against Venezuela came against Carlos Silva and Enrique Gonzalez on the mound,) is very much up in the air. I think Japan has the more reliable offense, but as we know, I am real crappy at predicting how games are going to turn out. (Baseball IS a little unpredictable...)
I'm still advocating the 'triple whale' play. I think it could revolutionize the game.