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Rob Smaal

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Darvish struggles in Olympic warm-up

by Rob Smaal (Aug 9, 2008)

It might not have been the convincing victory that many had hoped for, but Japan's Olympic baseball team tuned up for its trip to Beijing with a 6-4 win over a squad of Pacific Leaguers at Tokyo Dome.

Yu Darvish, an 11-game winner so far this season with the Nippon-Ham Fighters, got the start Friday night and was less than overwhelming. The lanky right-hander with a 2.07 ERA, expected to be the ace of the staff in Beijing, gave up a pair of runs on four hits in three innings for Senichi Hoshino's team.

"The results weren't very good tonight, but I'm pretty sure I'll do better when it really counts," said Darvish, who struck out three.

With the talent on display at Tokyo Dome, the MLB scouts were out in full force. About a dozen of them sat directly behind home plate, radar guns firmly focused on Darvish.

Hideaki Wakui of the Seibu Lions ended up getting the win with two innings of relief, taking over for Darvish to start the fourth. Wakui also looked rusty, however, allowing a run on four hits and two walks.

Koji Uehara, the Yomiuri Giants reliever in the midst of a subpar season who was controversially named to the team, pitched the ninth to get the save. He got Lotte's Toshiaki Imae on a hard liner to right field and also induced a couple of groundouts while walking one.

Marines catcher Tomoya Satozaki hit a leadoff homer in the third inning for Japan, clubbing a 144-kph fastball from Eagles righty Satoshi Nagai over the fence in dead center.

Shinnosuke Abe of the Giants lined an RBI single to left in the fourth for Japan to tie the game 2-2 and the Olympians put four more on the board in the fifth with five hits off Softbank's Keisuke Katto, highlighted by G.G. Sato's RBI double.

"In this kind of game it's hard to work inside," said Katto, who didn't want to hit anyone so close to the Olympics. "My shuto (two-seam fastball) is my best pitch but when you're afraid to come inside with it--well, you saw the results tonight."

Seibu's Takumi Kuriyama and Nobuhiro Matsuda of the Hawks had three hits apiece for the Pacific Leaguers, who out-hit Japan 11-10 on the night. Hoshino used a total of six pitchers.

The Olympians play a Central League selection Saturday afternoon before heading off to Beijing.


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