Their pitcher pitched he was as good as advertised. He had a good fastball, good slider, threw some good curveballs and kept us off balance and you know, got a bunch of runs early. So he was cruising through five innings, and you know, that was the story of the game.
Q. What's your impression of Maeda?
WLADIMIR BALENTIEN: Well, he's a great pitcher. I've faced him a lot during the season, and I know he has a great slider, he has great command, and he showed it again tonight, just came out and made good pitches and keep us on our balance.
Q. You're going to have a do or die elimination game playing against Cuba tomorrow.
HENSLEY MEULENS: Yes, you know, that's what it's come down to. We have to be very good tomorrow to beat another good team in Cuba. We beat them the first game, but tomorrow is a different story.
We have to pitch better tomorrow, keep the ball down, keep the ball in the ballpark. We give up six home runs today, and it's hard to win like that. We have to regroup, turn the page tonight, get back tomorrow here and prepare for Cuba, get good pitching.
We still hit the ball a little bit today but it was a little bit too late. And score early; score early and give our pitchers a chance to hold the game. But we are going to have pitch a lot better tomorrow to beat the Cubans.
Q. Any thought for tomorrow's game against Cuba?
WLADIMIR BALENTIEN: Well, like everybody knows, it's an important game tomorrow. So what happened tonight, we are going to lap (ph) it over. Tomorrow is a new game and we are going to come out and play hard like we have done before. I have confidence in my teammates, so I think tomorrow we'll be all right.
Q. You gave up six home runs, and the 16, 18 years that you played in Japan, as well, did you expect that Team Japan would have a lot of home runs, also compared to back then when you were playing? Is the Tokyo Dome a pitcher's ballpark, do you think?
HENSLEY MEULENS: Yes, it's a hitter's ballpark for sure. The ball travels well here. You know, I didn't expect them to hit six home runs, no. Nobody expected that. They have none home runs coming into this game. They only have two extra base hits, and they both were from Itoi and they were two doubles.
But we knew they had power but we just didn't execute our pitches today. We left the ball up in the zone a lot and they capitalized on every ball we left up in the zone.
It's hard to keep the ball in the ballpark, especially this ballpark where the ball carries, when the ball is up in the zone. These guys have gained momentum when they beat Chinese Taipei the other day, and today, they just came out swinging. They were loosy goosy. They played a really good game, and they hit like people expect them to hit all the time today. If you don't make good pitches on them, they are going to hurt you, and they showed that today.
Q. There are a lot of restrictions on the number of pitches that the hurlers can throw, and you had to get through this game tonight to get to tomorrow. So what do you think about the restriction on the number of pitches, and do you think that's going to hurt you tomorrow?
HENSLEY MEULENS: No, I think we have enough pitching. We have enough pitching left for tomorrow. I think if you look at our roster, that's why you have 13 pitchers. We didn't pitch Yntema today and we didn't pitch Martis today and we didn't pitch Bergman. Isenia didn't pitch, and Van Mil and Boyd didn't pitch, and those are the guys that we have been using and winning games.
The guys we pitched today, none of them have never really pitched before. Van Driel has not pitched, Heijstek had not pitched. Balentina only pitched one pitch, actually, before.
So we used the guys that haven't been pitching much, and we still have six, seven guys left for tomorrow's game, which is going to be a do or die game.
Q. What about the rule?
HENSLEY MEULENS: Well, the rule is the rule. The rule is designed to protect the pitchers for this time of the year. It's early in spring, and the guys are I think it's a good rule because of, you know, the time of the year. If you abuse guys this time of the year, pitching them back to back days and over a certain amount of pitches, you can get guys hurt.
That's why I think the rule is good. That's why they allow you to have at least 13 pitchers so you can make sure nobody gets hurt during this tournament that's so early in the season.
Q. When you play again Japan, including Maeda, what's grand total impression of Japanese pitchers?
HENSLEY MEULENS: Well, you know, the pitching in Japan is great. I think if you guys can see most of the pitchers go play in the Major Leagues, they have good results playing in the Major Leagues as well, and to me, when I played over here, too, years ago, the pitching was the strongest suit of this league. I think it's hard to get used to it. They throw a number of different pitches and they command the ball very well.
I think the pitchers work very hard over here throwing a lot of pitches all the time and they have really, really good control and they keep the ball down as you can see today with Maeda, he's probably one of the top pitchers here in Japan. He doesn't make many mistakes at all. In fact, none of the guys make many mistakes, except the ball was left a little up to Wladimir and he hit the dribble to drive in the three runs for us.
But other than that, the Japanese pitching is good, and you guys have proven this over the years, and especially the first two Classics that you guys have good pitching. You know, Wladimir can say that, too, he's been playing here for two years, he's been hitting home runs, but there's been very good pitching over the last few years.