Matsui revels in Japan's World Cup soccer win
It was a pretty momentous sports day for Japan on Sunday. The Japanese soccer team won the Women's World Cup, and on a smaller scale, Hideki Matsui made news with his first three-RBI day as a member of the A's.
No question, it's been a rough go for Matsui most of the year, but particularly lately. He had gone 7 for 50 (.140) over his past 15 games, and his average had dropped to .210 heading into Sunday. Moreover, sitting on 499 career home runs combining his Japanese and U.S. totals, he hasn't gone deep since June 16, a span of 23 games.
Matsui's nearly hit No. 500 in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, however, and Sunday drove home the first runs in the A's eight-run first-inning outburst with a sharp two-run single to right off the Angels' Joel Pineiro. Matsui added an RBI on a ground out in the third and also walked twice. He was particularly happy about the first-inning hit.
"I know (Pineiro) is a sinkerball pitcher, and what I was trying not to do was top the ball and hit a weak grounder," Matsui said through interpreter Roger Kahlon. "I was trying to get a pitch that I could hit pretty hard, and I was able to do that."
As the Oakland DH, Matsui headed back into the clubhouse to sneak peeks at the Women's World Cup final during the game and was excited about the result.
"I think it was an incredible feat that they accomplished," he said. "You saw the mind and the body working in that game where they all came together. It was a tough situation in overtime when they were down one score, but to be able to come back, tie it up and then win, it was incredible.
"It's also something to help the country after they have gone through (the earthquake and tsunami in March)," Matsui added. "It's definitely something that's energized the people and given them something to root for."
Hammer, who served as former owner Charles O. Finley's "eyes and ears" while growing up as an Oakland teenager, made a strong pitch for the late owner one day making the Baseball Hall of Fame.
"Absolutely, but not as somebody's favorite, just on facts," he said. "You won't be doing Mr. Finley a favor, you'll just be doing what he earned. You're talking about a man who would acquire talent, cultivate talent, market and promote the team and then actually win division and world championships and let you know it wasn't an accident by doing it year in and year out."
-- CARL STEWARD