Japan walks off into Classic final, and ‘the world of baseball won’!– OnMyWay Mobile App User News

Japan walk-off 6-5 win over Mexico books their spot in final

This game was epic! It had everything that baseball promises: great pitching, contact hitting, small ball, big blasts, and a walk-off finish. This was one of the best baseball games you could ever hope to see.

Mexico got out to a three-run lead in the fourth with a towering shot from Luis Urías and held it. Great pitching, more than a pinch of luck, and of course Randy Arozarena kept Mexico in front for seven innings.

On the Japanese side of the ball, there was solid play and lots of base runners; in fact they stranded ten of them on the night. But the lucky breaks all fell Mexico’s way, and sometimes it is better to be lucky than to be good.

In the seventh inning, Masataka Yoshida blasted a bomb off the right field foul pole to level the score, and once again Mexico hit right back, posting two of their own in the bottom half of the inning to retake the lead. Japan clawed one back but were in desperate straits.

And then, with all the chips down, in the bottom of the ninth Japan got two runners on base for Munetaka Murakami. The NPB triple crown winner has been oddly silent in the tournament so far. He had gone 0 for 4 on the night, and 0 for 18 in the entire WBC competition. It was only a matter of time before his bat came to life and that moment was when it counted most.

Alex Verdugo, Yoshida’s new teammate on the Red Sox, connected for a go-ahead RBI double to drive in Randy Arozarena, and Isaac Paredes tacked on another run with a ground ball into left that drove in Jarren Duran.

Japan rallied in the bottom of the eighth to plate Takumu Nakano on a Hotaka Yamakawa sacrifice fly that cut Mexico’s lead to 5-4, setting up the final-inning heroics.

As just noted, the pitching matchup definitely figures to favor Japan in this one, and we’ll say that expectations hold. Sasaki turns into a dominating performance, and Japan moves on to face the U.S.

Are those false equivalencies? Maybe. I’m sure all the WBC naysayers will say so.

The fact of the matter is that players get hurt at times. Sometimes it’s separating frozen hamburger patties (yes, that also happened) and sometimes a Hall of Famer tears his ACL while shagging balls in batting practice.

In the case of Díaz, he wasn’t even playing in the WBC anymore. The game was over! He was hopping in a circle with teammates. Sure, there would be zero celebrations like that in spring training games, but players run through drills, weight train, and do all kinds of things where one funky movement could end their season. Sometimes weird stuff just happens. Again, it sucks in a major way, but it’s a simple reality.

(On Thursday, the Mets said Díaz had a successful repair of his patellar tendon, and he’s expected to start his rehab regimen in about a week.)

Wanting to cancel an entire event because a high-profile player got hurt when it wasn’t even during a game seems like a major overreaction. I’m not even going to make the whole “the players care” or “fans of Puerto Rico were ecstatic” arguments or anything like that. Those aren’t really relevant in this discourse. It should be noted, however, that the players really do love it. I was in a clubhouse Thursday afternoon and a middle-of-the-order hitter was going off about how big of a deal the WBC is to people all over the world. His point, which he was making vehemently, was that it isn’t an event for Americans, but for the rest of the world. He was adamant that nearly every non-USA teammate he’s ever had thinks of the event as a huge deal. (He’s also the one that reminded me of the Mariano Rivera injury I referenced above.)

Aside from the players loving the event, though, it’s just a simple matter of lining up the whole “risk” argument, for me.


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