Matsuzaka is MVP

Japanese starter Daisuke Matsuzaka, who gained the victory by giving up only one run in four innings while striking out five, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. He finished 3-0, 1.38 in three WBC starts–getting three of Japan’s five total WBC wins–by also defeating Chinese Taipei and Mexico in earlier rounds.

“It was my first experience to pitch in a game with the world championship on the line,” said Matsuzaka, who is interested in jumping to the major leagues as early as next season. “I was going to feel a lot of pressure as this is something you can not purchase. But I did not feel much of it once I got up on the mound.”

“It’s No. 1. It’s amazing. We’re champions,” said tournament MVP Daisuke Matsuzaka, Japan’s starting pitcher who’s hoping he caught the attention of some major league scouts.

“I knew by rule that [Shunsuke] Watanabe was available, but when [Oh] selected me as the starting pitcher, that really fired me up,” he said.

The adrenaline flowed so freely that Matsuka threw more heat than even Oh anticipated. “He was throwing his pitches harder than ever in first four innings,” Oh said after the 10-6 victory over Cuba. “That was something I haven’t really seen in the past.”

The extra effort Matsuzaka put into the game led to an earlier than expected departure. There is a 95-pitch limit in the final round of the tournament, but the starter threw just 62 pitches — 43 for strikes.

“I never thought about a pitch count or anything,” Matsuzaka said, “so from the beginning, I was throwing the hardest pitches possible. This was the first time for me to face the Cuba team since the Athens Olympics (in 2004), but they always have these intimidating hitters.”

Matsuzaka said fear of the Cuba lineup never entered his mind and his game plan was to challenge the fastball-hitting team with fastballs.

According to ESPN’s Jim Caple: The The next great Japanese import, no matter how great Matsuzaka is in Japan and in World Baseball Classic, he will try his best to Major League soon.

“I believe that Major League Baseball is the best league in the whole world, and I would like to see what I could do in that league,” Matsuzaka said after Japan beat Cuba 10-6 on Monday night. “That’s what I have in my mind.”

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