In a low scoring and most of all wet game, one of the best of offensive teams took on one of the worst offensive teams. Japan as a team hit well over .300 in the first two rounds, while team USA hit around .250. But despite the team batting average, team USA prevailed and beat Japan 2-1.
With the many wild scoring games in the past three weeks, this game was exactly the opposite. A nice pitching duel with only three runs scored.
The US took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. With two outs and Christian Yelich on second, thanks to a rare fielding error by second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi, Eric Hosmer drew a walk. Andrew McCutchen was clutch as he singled on a ground ball to left field and drove in Yelich for the opening run.
We all use to know Japanese baseball as the kind that excelled in playing small ball to get the runs. They used to rely on that kind of baseball. But nowadays Japan is more than small ball. The team has a couple of bonafide sluggers who can aim for the fences. And that is exactly how they tied the game. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Ryosuke Kikuchi made up for the error that he committed in the fourth inning with a solo blast to center field.
After that home run, Nate Jones was replaced by Andrew Miller, who retired the next two batters to get out of the inning. Jones only had pitched 1.1 innings in relief in which he struck out two.
Japanese starter Tomoyuki Sogano, pitched six frames in which he kept his ERA at 0.00. He gave up an unearned run on three hits, walked one and fanned two.
Both teams did not have many scoring opportunities. Japan had a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the third after Tetsuto Yamada stole second. But they could not cash in because Ryosuke Kikuchi grounded out 5-3. After team USA had scored the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning, Japan pushed once more in the bottom of that inning, but despite having a runner in scoring position, Japan failed to tie the game.
In the top of the eighth inning, Brandon Crawford (single) advanced to third on Ian Kinsler’s double to center field. Adam Jones hit a ground out to third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda, who bobbled the ball just long enough to allow Crawford to score and give the USA the 2-1 lead.
The Astros’ Luke Gregerson closed out the game in style as he retired the side in the bottom of the ninth with two groundouts (1-3 and 6-3) and struck out Nobuhiro Matsuda.
Winning pitcher for team USA was Sam Dyson, who pitched a perfect seventh. Luke Gregerson earned the save. Kodai Senga, who gave up the go-ahead run took the loss.
None of the US hitters got more than one hit. Adam Jones and Andrew McCutchen had the most impact with their RBI’s as both went 1 for 4.
Team USA will be the road team at Dodger Stadium as it will face the unbeaten Puerto Ricans. You can count on a sellout crowd with lots of fans on both sides.