You had a tough day of lolling around watching lazy games of basketball, fella. Time to put your excitement hat on and enjoy some truly invigorating tournament action: the second semi-final of the World Baseball Classic! Last night, Korea nearly mercy-ruled Team Venezuela (unfortunately, there is no mercy rule in the final four) so the winner of tonight's Japan-USA tilt will take on Lloyd's second favorite team in the championship game on Monday. Heartburn-inducing speedballer Daisuke Matsuzaka takes the hill for Japan, while Team America counters with southern fried Roy Oswalt. Get the Maalox ready, you're going to need it.
Team America players with success against Dice-K include Derek Jeter (4-for-12 with two tater tots), Brian Roberts (6-for-12 with two doubles), and Curtis Granderson (4-for-9 with a homer and a double). Of the NL'ers on the squad, only Ryan Braun (2-for-4) and Brian McCann (0-for-2) have ever faced Matsuzaka; Adam Dunn, Jimmy Rollins, and David Wright have never matched up against the Japanese ace. Hint: he throws really fast, but let him get behind in the count and either sit on the fastball or let him walk you. It's gold! Otherwise, in limited appearances against Oswalt, Japan's MLB contingent is a combined 5-for-14 with 3 strikeouts and an RBI (Ichiro has four of the hits).
Roy is prepared to notch up to 100 pitches if he needs it. That's the limit on fragile pitcher's arms in the semifinals, and manager Davey Johnson will want to use as much of that as possible, if only to keep Jeremy Guthrie and his 14.73 ERA out of this vitally important game.