Kensuke Kondo’s “Kindness in Public and Private Life” Saves Darvish from 3-run Flare-Up with Bat
The Japanese National Team, aiming to win the World Baseball Classic (WBC) for the first time since 2009, faced off against the South Korean National Team on April 10. The Japanese team had a tough game, giving up three runs in the third inning, but they rallied to win their second straight game, 13-4.
After beating China 8-1 in their opening game on the 9th, Yu Darvish of the Padres took the mound to start for Japan. It had been 11 years since his last appearance on the mound at Tokyo Dome, since October 2011 when he was a member of Nippon Ham. He had not pitched in a game since he arrived in Japan, and he was cheered loudly when he was called up for the pre-game ceremony of the opening game the day before. On this day, he failed to live up to expectations on the mound.
In the “Darvish’s All You Can Say Live” audio streaming that was released on March 1, Darvish expressed his anxiety about not being able to pitch before the tournament.
<I can’t help it if I can’t pitch. I can’t bring my best to the WBC.
In the third inning, with the score 0-0, Darvish allowed a double to left-center by Kang Baek-ho of the South Korean national team, followed by an oversized two-run shot into the left field stands by Yang Woo-ji. After an error by Munetaka Murakami, Lee Jung-hoo was allowed to score a run in front of the right field bleachers in the third, giving up three runs in the inning.
In the bottom of the third inning, right after the tide had turned, the Japanese team broke up their opponent’s starter, Kim Kwang-hyun. Kim is a left-handed pitcher who pitched well against Japan in the semifinals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was called the “Japan killer. Until the second inning, he had been unable to catch the breaking ball and had struck out five, but timely singles by Lars Nutobar and Kensuke Kondo brought the score to one, and Masanao Yoshida’s two-run double put the game out of reach. In the fifth inning, Kondo’s solo homer and Yoshida’s sacrifice fly scored a run to extend the lead to 6-3 and pull the tide completely out of the game.
Darvish has been in the Majors since 2012, and Kondo joined Nippon Ham from Yokohama High School that year. Although they had just swapped places and did not play together, Darvish was thrilled by the kindness of Kondo, his “junior” at Nippon Ham, just before the WBC. In the aforementioned audio streaming, Darvish introduced the following episode.
＜Today, my eyes were unusually blurry. When I got on the bus and looked into the distance, I couldn’t focus at all, so I wondered what was wrong, and I thought maybe my eyes were tired.
So Darvish consulted Kondo, who has been working on dynamic vision and brain response since 2016 about a clinical psychologist introduced to him by the baseball team.
＜When I asked him what he does when his eyes are blurry, he said, ‘I have an exercise like this,’ and ‘I have a special paper for that. He said, “I have a special paper for that. I’m so happy.
Kondo hit a timely homer to close the gap to one run right after taking a three-run lead, and in the fifth inning he hit a home run to extend the lead to two runs. Kondo shook off the shock of “Darvish on fire” with his bat.
Not only Kondo, but also Masanao Yoshida, who started in the 5th position in left, had 3 hits and drove in 5 runs, scoring 13 runs by the end of the 7th inning.
After the win over the Chinese team on the 9th, manager Hideki Kuriyama stated, “The international tournament did not go as well as we had hoped.
After the win against China on the 9th, Hideki Kuriyama, the manager, said, “I have seen that things do not go as expected in international tournaments, but I thought it was really difficult. First of all, I am glad we won.
Even against the lower-ranked Chinese national team, the score remained two runs even until the sixth inning. Darvish, who had started the day, was hit by a pitch, leaving the team behind by three runs. However, the heavy atmosphere in the Tokyo Dome disappeared before I knew it. Will the momentum of the team, which defeated its archrival with everyone covering for a broken down mainstay, continue all the way to the top of the world?