The WBC final ended in what the Japanese first basemen Kazuma Okamoto called a manga-type match between teammates Shohei Ohtani and Trout. A dream ending for a tournament that’s been praised and criticized throughout its run. Two mega forces facing each other in a game that matters. Something that neither of them have ever been involved in at the MLB level.
Team USA consisted of two players who will be representing the city of Los Angeles starting March 30th. Will Smith sat out the final match, having caught the semi finals against Cuba.
Will Smith At The WBC Final
Last season, Smith hit .300 against left-hand pitchers. Japan opened the game with a left-hander. Instead of Smith, DeRosa opted for JT Realmuto.
Realmuto was batting .625 coming into the final match of the tournament. His hit-by-pitch allowed Trea Turner to come up to bat and hit the memorable grand slam against Venezuela. Walking towards first base after the hit-by-pitch, Realmuto stared down Quijada. Will Smith would never. Although, he did deny Arozarena’s greetings during the match between Mexico.
I’m just glad he didn’t slap him.
Will Smith sat out the final match, watching the game from the dugout, making Mookie Betts the only Dodger to represent the team on the final lineup of the tournament.
Mookie At The WBC Final
Coming into the final match, Mookie brought his .296 batting average. In the previous game, he went 3-6 with two singles and a double in a one-sided 14-2 victory over Cuba.
Mookie led the batting order every game of the tournament. After any offensive gain, Mookie always welcomed his teammates making their way back to the dugout. Mike Trout and Mookie took on the role as captains of the team.
Mark DeRosa created the top of the order 1-2 punch of Mookie and Trout to lead this team into defending their championship title.
Mookie opened the match with two fly balls to each side of the field.
The Mookie that hustled into home on a ground out in a clinching game six of the 2020 World Series seemed like an anomaly after his first two at bats.
Hitting a home run in the bottom of the 8th inning to give the Dodgers an insurance run to clinch their first World Series since 1988 became a distant memory after his two fly outs in a 1-game series to crown the World Baseball Champion.
But, never underestimate the power of Mookie. He started the top of the 5th with a hustled infield single. He swung on a first pitch, 4-seam fastball that bounced high towards 3rd baseman Munetaka Murakami. Initially the umps called it an out.
DeRosa challenged the call and was overturned. Mookie hustled out momentum.
Nolan Arenado singles on a 2-0 pitch, with 2 outs. All of a sudden, team USA had two men on base with Kyle Schwarber up to bat.
On a 3-0 count, Schwarber flies out and spoils Mookie’s hustle.
Spoiling At The WBC Championship Game
Team USA ended the game going 0-7 with runners in scoring position, leaving 9 men on base. Out-hitting Japan by four hits. Spoiling momentum became the theme of the game.
During the 7th inning, Jeff McNeil takes a walk and Mookie singles, with 0 outs. This time, Trout and Goldschmidt spoiled the rally, setting up a showdown between McNeil, Betts, and Trout versus the almighty Shohei Ohtani for the top of the 9th.
The ninth started with McNeil working a walk against Ohtani, who had his warm up rushed by his last at-bat in the top of the 7th that ended with a speedy infield single. The man can do everything.
Here comes Mookie, who ended his tournament with a first pitch, double play. Mookie’s strength in the batter’s box has always been his patience. He excels when he makes the pitchers work. His best attribute is making pitchers earn the out. His showdown with Ohtani would have been the best time to be patient.
Instead, Trout stuck out with the bases clear, on a 3-2 pitch against his teammate.
I’m just glad Mookie is crossing off “losing in big games” early in the season.