Homers from Phils’ Trea Turner and Kyle Schwarber Aren’t Enough for USA, Japan Takes WBC 3-2 in a Classic

Mar 21, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; USA shortstop Trea Turner (8) hits a home run during the second inning against Japan at LoanDepot Park. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies –yes, the Phillies– did all they could on Tuesday night to lead the United States to a World Baseball Classic title.  But in the end a pair of solo home runs from Phils’ shortstop Trea Turner and outfielder Kyle Schwarber weren’t enough.  Samurai Japan defeated the United States 3-2 to win the Classic in an all-time classic game. 

The red hot Turner crushed a solo home run 406-feet into the left field seats to get the United States on the board in the top of the 2nd inning.   Tuesday night marked Turner’s third consecutive WBC game with a round tripper.  The Phils’ prized free agent led all players in the World Baseball Classic with five (5) homers.  

In traditional samurai spirit, Japan answered immediately in their half of the 2nd inning.  Yakult Swallows third baseman Munetaka Murakami launched a 432-foot homer to right-center field to tie the game.  St. Louis Cardinals fan favorite Lars Nootbaar drove in what proved to be the game winning run on a groundout to third to give Japan a 2-1 lead after the 2nd inning.  

Yomiuri Giants first baseman Kazuma Okamoto added a huge insurance run for Japan with a home run off of Colorado Rockies pitcher Kyle Freeland in the 5th inning to extend their lead to 3-1.  

The United States battled back in the 7th inning when Schwarber demolished a Yu Darvish pitch and sent it 436-feet into the second deck of the loanDepot Park.  Turner followed with a single to center, setting up Phils’ teammate J.T. Realmuto in a huge spot with USA down by one-run.  Darvish was able to settle down and forced Realmuto and Cedric Mullins to pop out and fly out, respectively.  

Japan went down quietly in the 8th inning setting up a Shohei OhtaniMike Trout showdown in the 9th inning.  

New York Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil worked a walk against Ohtani to lead off the USA ninth and put the tying run at the plate.  Ohtani forced Mookie Betts to ground into a backbreaking double play to clear the bases and set up the ultimate showdown with Trout, his Los Angeles Angels teammate. 

In a moment made for Hollywood, Ohtani –the best baseball player in the game today– struck out Trout –perhaps the best baseball player of the past decade-plus– with a nasty slider to win the Classic for Japan.

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