The hidden side of politics

Japan beats USA for WBC title: Best moments and takeaways from thrilling finale

Reported by ESPN:

Weeks of exciting international baseball all came down to this: USA vs. Japan. Shohei Ohtani vs. Mike Trout — for the World Baseball Classic title.

The final game of the 2023 WBC, between the tournament’s two most dominant teams, ended with the matchup everyone was hoping to see. Ohtani struck out his Los Angeles Angels teammate in the ninth inning to close out a 3-2 victory for Japan. The win gives Japan its third WBC title and ends Team USA’s quest for a repeat crown.

We have you covered with everything you need to know for the WBC grand finale, from updates and best moments to postgame takeaways.

Baseball world reacts to Japan’s WBC victory

Takeaways from the WBC final

What went right for Japan

It utilized its bullpen perfectly — for the fans, considering the epic matchup that finished this tournament, but mostly to set itself up for a win. There were questions around why Yu Darvish didn’t start, but Shota Imanaga held the U.S. to one run in the first two innings and the bullpen took it from there. In all, seven pitchers were utilized, six of whom are starters. Darvish pitched the eighth inning, nearly giving up the lead, and paved the way for Shohei Ohtani, who walked to the bullpen after sliding into second base on a double play. He tossed a few warm-up pitches, checked back into the game — and recorded the save. — Alden Gonzalez

What went wrong for the U.S.

Team USA simply didn’t capitalize on run-scoring opportunities. And in a game with such a small margin for error, against a team with so much talent, that proved to be the difference. The U.S. went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, its worst mark ever in the World Baseball Classic. In the second, third, fifth and seventh innings, they had two runners on base who failed to score. In the ninth, Jeff McNeil drew a leadoff walk against Ohtani, but Mookie Betts bounced into a double play and Mike Trout struck out — whiffing on a full-count slider after getting four consecutive 100-mph fastballs. — Gonzalez

Relive the best WBC final moments