Another one run ball game. In a previous final four Japan had beaten the United States 9-4 on their way to their first WBC championship back in 2006. The faces have changed in 2013 but this time the United States wins 2-1. A ground ball out to third scored the winning run in the top of the eighth inning. The United States will now face Puerto Rico for the WBC championship. This is the farthest the United States has gone in a WBC event. The undefeated Puerto Ricans lost in the finals in 2013 to the Dominican Republic.
Both starting pitchers were excellent. Tanner Roark went four innings allowing just two hits. The Japanese could only get four hits against the United States pitching staff. Tomoyuki Sugano went six innings and allowed just three hits. An uncharacteristic error by Japan allowed an unearned run to score in the fourth that proved to be the difference in the game.
Ryosuke Kikuchi booted a Christian Yelich grounder with one out in the fourth inning to help the United States score their first run. After Nolan Arenado struck out Eric Hosmer coaxed a walk. Andrew McCutchen bounced a single into left field to score Yelich with the first run of the game.
After Tanner Roark cruised through the first four innings Nate Jones came on to start the fifth. Ryosuke Kikuchi balanced the books for his error with one out in the sixth by roping a ball over the center field fence for a homerun to tie the game 1-1. Andrew Miller came on to replace Nate Jones after the homerun. He walked the first hitter he faced but retired the next two hitters on a strikeout and pop up to end the inning. Miller has been struggling in this tournament so it was good to see him keep the game tied.
In the eighth a one out single by Brandon Crawford got the final United States rally started. Ian Kinsler doubled to put Crawford on third. With one out Japan chose to play the infield deep and Adam Jones grounded to third. Crawford broke for the plate and Nobuhiro Matsuda chose to make the out at first after bobbling the ball, giving the United States a 2-1 lead. If not for the bobble Matsuda may still have been able to get Crawford out at home.
Japan got a leadoff single from Seiichi Uchikawa in the eighth. A bunt moved pinch runner Kosuke Tanaka to second. Tetsuto Yamada bunted the ball, a player capable of hitting 30 plus homeruns. Mark Melancon struck out Kikuchi for the second out. A walk to Norichika Aoki brought in Sam Dyson to face Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh, who brought a charge to the crowd when he lined hard to right field, but Andrew McCutchen was able to track the ball for the third out.
Luke Gregerson retired the Japanese in order in the ninth to pick up the save to the delight of the 33,462 in attendance. Marcus Stroman will get the start for the United States. He will pitch against Seth Lugo, representing Puerto Rico. Stroman’s last start he gave up six consecutive hits to open the game against Puerto Rico.