Just like that we are down to the final game of the World Baseball Classic. One game. There is no tomorrow. This for the whole Magila. For the whole ball of wax. This is for aaaall the marbles.
Marcus Stroman will start for the United States on its first trip to the WBC Final. Seth Lugo looks to lead undefeated Puerto Rico to the title. Who will win? You’ll have to watch to find out!
Here’s a quick look at last night’s game:
United States 2, Japan 1
Seems it does rain in Southern California. A steady mist fell throughout last night’s semifinal, but didn’t seem to have a huge affect on the outcome of the game. Samurai Japan’s ace Tomoyuki Sugano’s excellent outing was marred by a couple defensive miscues that led to both US runs.
Japan’s run came on a Ryosuke Kikuchi home run in the sixth inning. For a second everyone watching thought Andrew McCutchen pulled an Adam Jones, but it was indeed a home run:
The go-ahead run for Team USA came on Adam Jones’s RBI groundout in the eighth inning. Brandon Crawford was going on contact and able to score when Nobuhiro Matsuda bobbled the ball briefly, missing the chance to get Crawford at the plate:
The US bullpen held Japan in check and Team USA is off to its first WBC Final.
All times are PDT, all games are broadcast on MLB Network and MLB.tv.
Final: United States vs. Puerto Rico, 6:00 PM
United States: Ah, the team that makes you wonder how good they would be if their country and players only cared about the WBC. This is a bit unfair because the players who are playing for Team USA are gushing and excited for the experience. The United States has never made it to the finals of the WBC, and while they certainly have the talent to advance, other countries have more oomph. The roster is made entirely of Major and Minor League players, including the Mariner’s own Drew Smyly, who will be making an appearance.
Japan: Winners of the first two World Baseball Classics, they were eliminated in the semi-finals in 2013. The team called Samurai Japan is under pressure from a population of baseball fanatics in Japan to avenge that loss. The only Major Leaguer on their roster is Nori Aoki. Throwing seven (!) different pitches, the ace of the team is Tomoyaki Sugano from the Yomimuri Giants. Tetstuto Yamada of the Yakult Swallows recorded a Triple Three (.300 batting average, 30 home runs, and 30 stolen bases) in 2015 while leading the league in home runs (38) and stolen bases (34).
Puerto Rico: Like Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico has some exciting talent on the roster. Also like Venezuela, the pitching is the question mark. Mariners closer Edwin Diaz and pitching prospect Emilio Pagan hope to help the rest of the staff advance the team to Round 2. The infield of young stars Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, and Carlos Correa join veterans like Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina. Puerto Rico played in the championship game last year. They may lack the pitching to get back.