Team USA Falls to Japan in Title Game

U.S. finishes 5-2 in the tournament
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
USA 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 9 0
Japan 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 x 3 5 0


MIAMI, Fla. – Team USA fell to Japan, 3-2, in front of a sold-out crowd in the title game of the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday night at loanDepot Park. The U.S. finished the tournament with a 5-2 record in the fifth edition of the event.

After the U.S. grabbed an early lead, Japan (7-0) jumped in front in the bottom of the second and held the lead for most of the game. Team USA threatened throughout the game, outhitting Japan 9-5 and getting within a run entering the ninth inning, but was unable to scratch the tying run across.

Trea Turner continued his record-breaking performance in the World Baseball Classic by getting the scoring started for the U.S. on Tuesday. With one out and nobody on in the bottom of the second inning, Turner launched his fourth home run in the past three games to give Team USA a 1-0 lead. The 406-foot blast to left, which was Turner’s fifth, tied him for the most home runs in a single World Baseball Classic (Seung Youp Lee, 2006), and broke the U.S. record for RBIs in a single tournament with 11.

Japan tacked on two runs in the bottom of the second, but U.S. reliever Aaron Loup entered the game with the bases loaded and was able to limit the damage to keep the game within striking distance at 2-1.

The stars and stripes squandered a scoring chance in the top of the third, drawing a pair of walks to put two on with two out for their hottest hitter in Turner. But he was unable to deliver this time, striking out to strand the baserunners.

Japan tacked on another run in the bottom of the fourth on a solo homer to take a 3-1 lead, and Team USA threatened again in the fifth and seventh innings. Singles by Mookie Betts and Nolan Arenado got the U.S. crowd on its feet in the top of the fifth, but an inning-ending fly out halted the rally and kept the U.S. deficit at two. Pinch-hitter Jeff McNeil led off the top of the seventh inning with a four-pitch walk and Betts singled to put two on with no outs, but a fly out and double play ended the threat.

Kyle Schwarber got the U.S. back within a run in the bottom of the eighth. The lefty fouled off six consecutive pitches before smoking the 10th pitch of the at-bat into the upper deck in right field for his second home run of the tournament to cut Team USA’s deficit to one.

McNeil drew a walk to lead off the top of the ninth against Shohei Ohtani, but a double play ball from Betts and a Trout strikeout ended Team USA’s tournament with a silver medal.

Betts (2-for-5) and Turner (2-for-4, HR, RBI) paced the offense with multi-hit games, while Schwarber’s (1-for-3, HR, RBI) homer provided the only other run. Trout (1-for-5) picked up a hit for the sixth consecutive game and reached base in all seven games of the tournament, the only U.S. player to do so.

Starting pitcher Merrill Kelly (0-1) lasted 1.1 innings and surrendered two runs on three hits to suffer the loss. The stars and stripes got solid work out of the bullpen, which allowed just one run over the final 6.2 innings pitched. Kyle Freeland provided the bulk of the work in relief, turning in three innings of one-run baseball. Jason Adam, David Bednar, and Devin Williams all pitched scoreless innings.

Trout and Turner both represented Team USA on the All-Tournament Team for their standout performances. Trout batted .296 with a homer and seven RBIs for the stars and stripes, reaching base at a .406 clip throughout tournament play. Turner hit a tournament-leading and record-tying five homers and drove in a team record-setting 11 runs, batting .391 and leading the team with a 1.483 slugging percentage.