SAPPORO, Japan -- Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka picked the right spot to showcase his talent.
He pitched a complete game Thursday in leading the Japanese
All-Stars past the touring major league stars 5-1 in Game 6 of an
eight-game exhibition series. The major leaguers lead the series
Matsuzaka, perhaps the best pitcher in Japan, hopes to play in
"Without question he could pitch in the major leagues,"
manager Bruce Bochy of the major league All-Stars said. "He has
four major league pitches; he has a good idea of what he's doing on
the mound. It's hard to compare him to anybody because of his
The 24-year-old right-hander has played six years in Japan's
professional league and must wait three more before becoming a free
Matsuzaka gave up one run on five hits while striking out six
for the win. The major leaguers scored their only run in the bottom
of the sixth when Jack Wilson of Pittsburgh doubled in Tampa Bay
outfielder Carl Crawford from first.
Ramirez left the tour after the first three games because of a
sore left hamstring. Ortiz, his Boston teammate, did not play
"In the sixth inning I started to feel I could go all the
way," Matsuzaka said. "We can't win the series, but hopefully we
can come back and win the next two games to tie it."
Matsuzaka was the winning pitcher when Japan defeated Cuba 6-3 in the preliminary round of the Athens Olympics. He played a key role in helping the Seibu Lions win the Japan Series this year.
Cubs outfielder Moises Alou, who singled off Matsuzaka in the sixth inning, was impressed.
"He pitched really well," Alou said. "I was lucky to hit a
fastball right down the middle."
The Japanese scored two runs off starter Mark Redman in the
second inning. Akinori Iwamura doubled home Kenji Jojima and
Shinnosuke Abe's fielder's choice scored Kazuhiro Wada from third.
Takahiro Saeki hit a solo homer to right in the eighth off
Francisco Rodriguez. Iwamura followed with a triple and scored when Alou dropped the ball in right, putting Japan up 5-1.
"I was excited to hit the first home run of the series for our
team," Saeki said. "I felt great at the plate."