March 10, 2023 10:42
Korea faces Japan in its second group game of the World Baseball Classic at Tokyo Dome in Japan on Friday.
The game will be do or die for Korea, which lost to underdog Australia 8-7 in its first group game on Thursday, allowing three homers.
Korea, which is grouped with Australia, China, Japan and the Czech Republic, must finish at least second in its group to advance to the quarterfinals. To increase the odds of advancing, Korea not only needs to beat Japan, but must also earn as many runs as possible and allow as few runs as possible in case it ties with Australia and Japan in terms of the number of wins.
"We will go all out, not just because we face archrival Japan, but also because we must win the game to advance to the quarterfinals," national team manager Lee Kang-chul said. "I will use all available pitchers if needed."
Korea will start Kim Kwang-hyun of the SSG Landers, who has a lot of experience against Japan, while Yu Darvish of the San Diego Padres will start for Japan.
In games involving professional Korean players, Korea has a slight edge over Japan in the countries' head-to-head record with 19 wins and 18 losses in 37 games, but has lost in their three most recent meetings.
On paper, Japan is certainly the stronger team. MLB.com ranked Korea 10th and Japan third in the world going into the WBC.
All of Japan's pitchers except Yu are under 30, and Roki Sasaki of the Chiba Lotte Marines and Hiroto Takahashi of the Chunichi Dragons, who are in their early 20s, are considered aces.
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