Team Japan feeling good about its offense

Team Japan feeling good about its offense

MESA, Ariz. -- Team Japan might have lost its final exhibition tune-up prior to heading off to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic, but the club seems pretty satisfied with what went on in the hot desert air.

The Cubs beat Japan at HoHoKam Stadium on Friday on a walk-off home run, but Team Japan scored five runs one day after scoring six against the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants. That's right where they want to be for next week's Championship Round at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

"These two games in Arizona, we scored a lot of runs, we got a lot of hits, and that's exactly what we're looking for here," hitting coach Kazuyoshi Tatsunami said. "We want to go to San Francisco feeling good about our batting, feeling good that we're hitting the ball well and scoring runs."

Team Japan stacked the lineup with right-handed hitters against Cubs southpaw starter Travis Wood, and afterward Tatsunami said it was a strategic move to prepare for lefties the club might face in San Francisco.

Sho Nakata and Hayato Sakamoto each hit two-run home runs off Wood, opening the eyes of some Cubs who might have been expecting more of a finesse game from the Japanese.

"The first home run by the first baseman [Nakata], he was very quick and turned on that ball," Cubs bench coach and acting manager Jamie Quirk said. "I know Travis Wood was surprised he got to it, and our catcher was surprised."

It was all very encouraging for Tatsunami and Team Japan manager Koji Yamamoto.

"So that's what we got out of this, that feeling of coming to America with the time difference and the jet lag and everything is different," Tatsunami said. "We feel good now going to San Francisco that our bats are working."

Doug Miller is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.