Tuesday night, the stage was set for an incredible finish to the World Baseball Classic tournament as Team USA, fresh off a 14-2 drubbing of Cuba, and Team Japan, who dramatically knocked off Mexico via a walk off on Monday night, were poised to face off with 2 of the most intriguing lineups in the history of the tournament. The USA, of course, was a lineup comprised of the greatest MLB superstars in the game today, while Japan had built their roster with a combination of MLB players and Japanese professionals that are searching for an opportunity to make the leap to the majors, all led by 2-way superhuman Shohei Ohtani. If it sounds like a script from Hollywood, just wait until you hear about how this one ended.
It turned out to be a game with minimal scoring, which added to the dramatics and amplified the stars who were able to come through for their teams. For Japan, it was Munetaka Murakami and Kazuma Okamoto, who each hit solo home runs in the final, but for the USA, those heroics came from one team. No, that team was not Team USA. The Philadelphia Phillies have absolutely dominated the WBC, and last night in the final, they once again took center stage amongst the best players in the game. Trea Turner started the scoring for both sides with a solo homer in the 2nd inning, his 4th homer in his last 6 at bats of the tournament. He truly has become Captain America right before our eyes. Then, with the USA down 3-1 in the top of the 8th inning, Kyle Schwarber had a chance to face Yu Darvish, who he hit the longest home run in Petco Park history off of back in October in the NLCS. The result was similar. Schwarber, after hitting about 50 combined miles of foul balls in the at bat, turned a splitter around for a bomb of a home run to draw the USA within 1. America, welcome to the Philadelphia Phillies’ bandwagon.
Unfortunately, the Phillies were the only team whose players showed up in a big spot for Team USA. Those solo shots by Turner and Schwarber were the only runs scored in the title for the stars and stripes, and in the top of the 9th, Shohei Ohtani faced off against his Los Angeles Angels teammate Mike Trout in one of the most prolific at bats in the history of baseball. Here’s how it ended:
SHOHEI OHTANI STRIKES OUT MIKE TROUT TO WIN THE #WORLDBASEBALLCLASSIC! pic.twitter.com/F7vUtIiRR1
— MLB (@MLB) March 22, 2023
What a moment, and what a tournament. Baseball was the big winner, with assumed record viewership worldwide of the championship game. It was a masterful display of top-level baseball, with a script that even Hollywood wouldn’t have written. But, if there was a 2nd winner from the WBC, it was the Philadelphia Phillies, who cemented themselves as not only America’s Team, but as a team to be feared this year in Major League Baseball.