Jeff BassinESPN4 minutes to read
MIAMI – A dream match Mike Trout’s Shohei Ohtani show may become reality on Tuesday night.
Ohtani plans to hit the ball in the World Baseball Classic Finals against Team USA, he said after leading Japan’s 6-5 semifinal victory over Mexico on Monday night, though his time on the mound will come in a matter of time. short. Uncommon role: as a relief pitcher.
The last time Otani was out of the game was in 2016, when he was 22 years old and in the post-season with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. Otani threw one no-hit inning and unleashed a pair of fastballs that were clocked at 165 kilometers per hour — about 102.5 miles per hour, harder than any pitch he threw in his five seasons with the Los Angeles Angels.
Otani last started five days ago, throwing 71 pitches in Japan’s samurai team’s quarterfinal victory over Italy. Not since arriving in Major League Baseball has Otani had four or fewer days of rest, which puts him in position to follow Japan’s top star Shota Imanaga, as well as San Diego Padres star Yu Darvish, who is expected to pitch. in the middle roles.
It all puts the prospect of Otani standing 60 feet, 6 inches from his friend and teammate Trott, captain of the mighty U.S. team that defeated Cuba 14-2 in the semi-finals.
“Not only is Mike Trout, but One-Nine in that order is full of stars and familiar names,” Otani said. “I’m just excited to meet this lineup. It’s great for Japanese baseball.”
The match between Japan and Mexico was something of an enchantment for any fan of the game – tight, tense, and pure moment after heroic moment. Ohtani appeared at the most urgent moment. Japan, coming back from a 3-0 deficit with a three-run home run off Boston Red Sox outfielder Masataka Yoshida, swept the advantage and trailed 5-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning.
Ohtani, who was driving against the St. While standing at second base, Otani yelled toward the Japan dugouts and raised his arms in glee twice.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been in a win-or-lose game, a playoff in the air,” said Ohtani, who has yet to make it to the postseason with the Angels. “Obviously we couldn’t lose, and I wanted to piss off the guys in the dugout.”
Gallegos walked Yoshida, who was lifted by pinch-runner Ukyo Shoto, and proceeded to take on the elite third-straight hitter, Nippon Professional Baseball champion Munetaka Murakami. After hitting in his first three at-bats, Murakami bunted it further, smashing a 111-mile-per-hour line off the center field fence, scoring Ohtani’s glee and a sliding Shoto to start the Japanese celebration.
Without ninth-round championships, Otani will return to Arizona to finish spring training with the Angels. Instead, he would attempt to replicate that semi-final results in 2016. On that day, his coach—Kazuyuki Atsuzawa, currently the head coach of Japan’s samurai team—told Otani in the fifth game that if the Fighters had gotten ahead, he’d be in ninth. . Ohtani said he took a bat, went to throw a ball, took another bat and got into the game.
This time, he said, “I’m going to be ready. Obviously, I’m feeling tight, so it’s going to be hard to find that time to warm up in the parking lot.”
He will direct Ohtani’s characters. Just being in the finals, in meaningful games, is an experience to be cherished.
Ohtani said “Obviously it’s quite an achievement to get into the championship series, but there’s a big difference between being first and second. So I’ll do everything I can to get first.”
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