Ohtani, Japan Hold Off Team USA to Capture the 2023 World Baseball Classic

Japan outlasted Team USA to win 3-2 in Miami on Tuesday night and win the 2023 Baseball World Cup Classic. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The United States took an early 1-0 lead, but Japan retook the lead in the bottom of the second. Kazuma Okamoto’s single home run in the fourth was the game winner.
  • Two-way star Shuhei Otani homered in the ninth and finished by lapping Los Angeles Angels teammate Mike Trout.
  • This marks Japan’s third WBC title, two more than any other country in the tournament’s history.

the athleteInstant Analysis:

WBC ends in Ohtani vs. Trout

The dream scenario is revealed in the final frame. Ohtani on a hill for Samurai Japan. And trout on the plate for Team USA. The two superstars, the Angels, are pitted against each other, and a championship is on the line. You cannot have a script finish the installation.

Swinging in relief of Japan, Ohtani pitched the one-round lead to secure the save and capture the gold. His fastball command was a bit shaky, but that didn’t matter. Otani beat trout in a heat of 100 mph before fueling it with a slider in the final. It was a reminder of how much Major League Baseball benefits from both players making it to the postseason, a goal the Angels hope to achieve in October. – McCullough

What went wrong for Team USA?

America’s top shooters chose not to compete in the event. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole, Jacob DeGrom, Aaron Nola – they all stayed at the house. Clayton Kershaw wanted to play, but was denied entry after an issue with his insurance. So it was Merrill Kelly, Aaron Loeb and Kyle Vreeland who took the lead in the early innings, as Samurai Japan built up the lead. Kelly served a solo homer to Munetaka Murakami on a belt-high fastball. Vreeland did the same for Okamota with a hanging slider.

For most of this tournament, the firepower of Team USA’s lineup has trumped the relative mediocrity of its staff. But he wasn’t going to be in the final. – McCullough

background story

Japan reached the championship game on Tuesday with a dramatic semi-final victory over Mexico on Monday. Trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth, Murakami hit a playoff double for a thrilling 6-5 win. The USA overcame Venezuela in the quarter-finals and advanced against Cuba 14-2 in the semi-finals to reach their second consecutive WBC title match.

Japan became the first team to go undefeated in a single WBC tournament since the 2013 champions Dominican Republic.

Highlight of the game

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(Photo: Eric Espada/Getty Images)


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