TOKYO — Thirteen years. It had actually been 13 years and 242 Major League begins because the last time Yu Darvish was called out of the bullpen. When the right-hander was last called out of the ‘pen, Darvish was simply a 23-year-old stud for the Nippon-Ham Fighters who imagined pitching in the Major Leagues.
Facing Italy in the quarterfinals on Thursday night, with a win sending out the group to Miami and an area in the semis, supervisor Hideki Kuriyama relied on Team Japan’s star veteran — who has actually ended up being a coach to the young pitchers around him — in Japan’s 9-3 success over Italy.
Even though Japan held a five-run lead in the seventh inning when the Padres starter gotten in, Kuriyama wasn’t taking any possibilities. Must-win video games can break down in a rush if you offer your opposition even the tiniest opening, and Japan was taking no possibilities.
Darvish rapidly started out the very first batter he dealt with on his method to retiring Italy in order. He quit a crowning achievement to Dominic Fletcher in the 8th, however he was otherwise pristine in his 2 frames. Pairing him with Shohei Ohtani (4 2/3 innings, 2 runs, one walk, 5 strikeouts; he went 1-for-2 with 2 runs) is the sort of unjust benefit that makes you question if Japan will drop a video game in the World Baseball Classic.
“It’s an honor as a manager to have such depth for pitchers — not only for our starters but also the second starters who are great,” Kuriyama stated prior to the video game. “Most of our players are capable of pitching at the Major League level. That’s what I believe.”
Darvish and Ohtani might get the headings, however it was Team Japan’s most ignored gamer who assisted get them there. On a packed lineup including gamers like Ohtani, Lars Nootbar, brand-new Red Sox outfielder Masataka Yoshida and the record-setting Munetaka Murakami, it’s been simple to forget that Kazuma Okamoto is a two-time All-Star with 5 successive seasons of 30-plus crowning achievement.
Playing in front of his normal home town crowd, the Yomiuri Giants slugger smashed a three-run crowning achievement in the bottom of the 3rd and included a two-run double in the 5th to assist put Italy away.
Japan will now play the winner of the Puerto Rico-Mexico video game in Miami on Monday (7 p.m. ET, FS1). For Italy, its competition might be over, however this group of mustaches, espresso and huge success have actually made its mark on the World Baseball Classic. Mike Piazza will now expect this fall’s European Championships in the Czech Republic and wait on the 2026 World Baseball Classic.