The scriptwriters for the 2023 World Baseball Classic could not have come up with a better ending. Japan won the tournament, 3-2, over the United States in Miami on Tuesday night, with the final at-bat coming between two of the greatest players of this generation, both of whom happen to be teammates.
Japan slotted in Shohei Ohtani as a designated hitter on Tuesday night, but the Los Angeles Angels star did take the bump in the ninth inning with a chance to pick up his first save since 2016. Jeff McNeil walked to start the frame, and then Mookie Betts grounded into a double play. All that stood between Ohtani and Japan was none other than Mike Trout.
The at-bat was thrilling, with Ohtani touching triple digits on multiple occasions and Trout showing his discipline at the plate to stay off of several offerings that were just outside of the strike zone. The count got to 3-2, and instead of trying to blow his teammate away, Ohtani went with a slider. For how great Trout inarguably is, there was nothing he could do here.
SHOHEI OHTANI STRIKES OUT MIKE TROUT TO WIN THE #WORLDBASEBALLCLASSIC! pic.twitter.com/F7vUtIiRR1
— MLB (@MLB) March 22, 2023
AS CALLED ON JAPANESE TV: pic.twitter.com/g2KcTBua4B
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 22, 2023
Now, both of these titans in the world of baseball will return to Los Angeles, where they will try to help the Angels make the postseason for the first time since 2014.