Javier Baez Leaves Team Japan Lost In Translation

Javier Baez homered in consecutive at bats, crushing a solo home run in the 7th and a walk-off two-run bomb in the 9th, helping to rally the Cubs to a 7-5 victory over Team Japan this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ. 

Team Japan is in Phoenix preparing for the World Baseball Classic Championship Round that will be played in San Francisco next week.

box score

The Cubs scored first, plating three runs in the bottom of the 1st inning against Team Japan lefty junkballer Tetsuya Utsumi.

Javier Baez worked a one-out walk on a 3-2 pitch, and advanced to third base on a Welington Castillo ground-rule (book rule) double that bounced off the right-centerfield warning track and over the fence. Alfonso Soriano lofted a sacrifice fly to right-center to score Baez, and Dave Sappelt drove-in Castillo with a rocket two-out double down the line and into the LF corner. Josh Vitters then ripped an RBI line-drive single to center to score Sappelt.

But Team Japan came back against Cub starter LHP Travis Wood, scoring two runs in the top of the 2nd inning and three more in the 3rd. 

Sho Nakata hammered a two-run HR over the LF fence with one out in the 2nd, and then after Kazuo Matsui reached base on a Javier Baez E-6 throwing error to open the 3rd, Shinnosuke Abe clubbed an RBI double into the left-center alley (Abe had two rope-doubles in the game), and Hayato Sakamoto followed with a monster two-run homer that hugged the LF foul line and  landed in the parking lot.   

Wood threw 4.2 IP (78 pitches - 53 strikes, 4/5 GO/FO), allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits (four singles, a double, and two HR), but he did throw strikes and did not issue any walks, and he struck out four (three swinging). He also picked a runner of 1st base.

Cory Wade relieved Wood and got four outs (the last out in the 5th and all three outs in 6th), doing it on just eight pitches (seven strikes). Wade has been ultra-efficient in his Cactus League outings, making it look ridiculously easy at times (F-8, K, 1B, 6-4-3 DP today).  

Rafael Dolis followed Wade and threw a nine-pitch 1-2-3 7th (F-8, 6-3, 3-U), and Casey Coleman worked a scoreless 8th (allowing a one-out double). 

While the Cub bullpen was throwing goose-eggs at Team Japan, the Cubs offense began to claw its way back from a 5-3 deficit.

Javier Baez hit his first home run (a solo moonshot bomb over the LF scoreboard and into the parking lot) off LHP Kenji Otanari with one out in the 7th. Then Dave Sappelt led off the bottom of the 8th with an infield single (his third hit of the game), and after Rubi Silva laid down a sacrifice bunt and Jorge Soler popped out, Dan Vogelbach lined an opposite-field two-out RBI single to left to score Sappelt from 2nd base with the tying run (terrible throw by the Team Japan LF, which allowed Vogelbach to take 2nd base). Alberto Gonzalez followed the Vogelbach RBI hit with an opposite-field line-drive single to right, but Vogelbach was thrown out 9-2 trying to score the go-ahead run from 2nd.  

RHP Jensen Lewis entered the game for the Cubs in the top of the 9th, and Team Japan parlayed a couple of singles to put runners at 1st & 3rd with only one out. But Jensen induced two ground outs (the first one a FC where the potential go-ahead run was thrown out at the plate by third-baseman Christian Villanueva) to get out of the inning unscathed, although he did labor a bit (18 pitches - only 10 strikes).

With the score tied 5-5 and one out in the bottom of the 9th, Christian Villanueva smacked a double into the left-center gap off RHP Takeru Imamura, and that set-up Javier Baez to be the hero, as the youngster displayed his incredible bat speed by drilling a two-run line-drive walk-off HR over the left-centerfield fence to give the Cubs the hard-fought victory. (You know it's an unusually hard-hit line-drive HR when the hitter shakes hands with his 1st base coach AND the opposing team's third-baseman shakes the hitter's hand while he's circling the bases).

New Cubs RHRP Kyuji Fujikawa delivered the Cubs lineup to home plate prior to the game, and had a good time interacting with some of the Japanese players and coaches. There were lots & lots of photos taken of the scene (including Fujikawa posing with the Team Japan manager and the umpires) by the dozens of Japanese photographers at the game.    

A musician dressed in traditional Japanese warrior garb serenaded the crowd on the third-base side of the field (where Team Japan's bench and most of the Japanese fans were located), beating a Tzusami drum and playing a Hayashi flute throughout the game (Team Japan's version of Ronnie Woo Woo). I think my headache is almost gone.



CarrieMuskat: #CubsJavier Baez told Welington Castillo, who was on deck: "You're not hitting" and then hit walkoff 2R HR for win over Japan

team USA is done...PR moves on.

Japan's Ronnie Woo Woo and the Baez walk off video:


Nice piece of video! That "Japan's Ronnie Woo Woo" has to be seen to be believed.

Side notes (baseball and not), as I wanted to post something somewhere:

- This Japanese team isn't that good. Yet ... right now, they might win the WBC again. If former Cubs farmhand Hung-Wen Chen gets one more strike against them, they would've been in the losers bracket in round 2, going up against a Cuba team that smashed them. Of course, that didn't happen, but it's a team that doesn't have a ton of power, and has a bunch of soft-tossers on the back-end of the pen. Tanaka is supposed to be the big arm, but out of the pen, he looked ... beatable.

- I haven't really been paying attention to football, but boy this Elvis Dumervil situation is funny ... and shady. Sure feels (to me) like the agent pulled a fast one on them, either hoping they kept him at 12 mil, or believing that he could get more than 8 mil on the open market (considering what Avril got, I wouldn't be so certain). As a side note to a side note, I really like the Bears off-season so far, but a lot of resources invested in the offense. I really like Lance Louis, but sure feels like he's gone. Draft feels like it could have a defensive focus (LB, CB).

Javy is good at hitting dingers.

You left out the "Pro Tip:" at the start there.

Recent comments

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  • From Keith Law:

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    "Comment From Wrenzie
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    Kiley McDaniel: Martinez. I have Eddy (20 years old) as a 65 runner with a 55 arm and 50 raw power that profiles as an everyday CF that could be above average depending on if the bat is a 45 or a 55. I have Yusniel (19) as a 60 runner with a 55 arm and 40 raw power that can be an everyday guy if he hits enough (50 or 55)."

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  • take that giants

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  • Per Jesse Sanchez at mlb.com, Cubs reportedly have signed 20-year old Cuban OF Eddy Julio Martinez for $3M bonus. 

  • BLOCK: Of course any advantage is an advantage. An MLB, NBA, or NHL team getting the extra game at home in a seven game series is an advantage, I just don't think it is enough of an advantage for winning a division and/or having the best record in a conference or league over the course of an 82-game season (NBA and NHL) or 162 game series (MLB).

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    Think Baby Maddux.

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