SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Japan manager Koji Yamamoto knows how difficult it will be for his country to win a third straight World Baseball Classic.
He feels his squad got off to a good start in its preparations for the semifinals.
Fighting through jet lag, Japan easily beat the San Francisco Giants 6-3 in an exhibition game Thursday.
Power-hitting first baseman Sho Nakata had three hits, and second baseman Takashi Toritani added two hits and two RBIs. Four of Japan’s runs came against Giants starting pitcher Yusmeiro Petit, including three in the second inning when Toritani had a two-run double.
“It is not easy to win back-to-back. We’re going for our third straight, and there is a lot of pressure on our backs,” Yamamoto said through a translator. “Our goal was to come here to the United States. Once we get here, anything can happen.
“We made good adjustments today (to the new, outdoor environment), especially our pitchers. I think we are in a good situation now,” he said. “I think we are on track.”
Japan will play another exhibition game on Friday against the Chicago Cubs in Mesa, before heading trip to AT&T Park in San Francisco, where they will face the Pool 2 runner-up (either the United States, Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico) on Sunday night.
Team Japan ace Masahiro Tanaka allowed a run and three hits and struck out three in his two-inning appearance, and eight pitchers combined to allow five hits and strike out 10.
The Giants didn’t field their best lineup, starting only five regulars, four of whom exited after two at-bats. But manager Bruce Bochy was impressed with Japan.
“They played well, they swung the bats well, they pitched well,” Bochy said. “They played a good ballgame today. They certainly outplayed us.”