So you're not going to walk me eh?
The Japanese are the champions once again of the World Baseball Classic, successfully defending their 2006 title on Monday night at Dodger Stadium against their Korean rivals.
And they can thank old standby Ichiro Suzuki for the thrilling 5-3, 10-inning victory. The 35-year-old Mariners right fielder, snapped a 3-3 tie with a two-run single on an eight-pitch at-bat against right-handed reliever Chang Yong Lim with runners on second and third and two outs in the 10th.
Daisuke Matsuzaka was named MVP for the second straight Classic. He was 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA.
A classic game and an incredible battle. Japan dominated early and knocked Korean starter Jung Keun Bong out in the 4th inning. But they could only get one run and left eight men on base due to timely pitching and great Korean defense.
Japanese starter Hisashi Iwakuma was perfect in the first 3 innings but gave up a solo home run to Shin Soo Choo in the 5th inning to tie the score 1-1.
After a few opportunities Japan eventually extended its lead to 3-1 in the 8th. Korea scratched out a run in the 8th and in the 9th tied the game off Yu Darvish on an RBI single by Bum Ho Lee.
Then the head-scratcher of the the game. In the top of the 10th Japan has 1st and 3rd with two outs and Ichiro up. Surely you can't pitch to this guy. You have a right-handed side-arm pitcher on the mound, surely you would walk Ichiro and loaded the bases and face the right-handed hitting Nakajima. You dodge Ichiro and have a force at every base. And then the Japanese make the mistake of stealing 2nd so now 1st base is open. There is absolutely no reason to pitch to Ichiro. Even Joe Morgan knows that!
But the Koreans are too cocky and too proud. They are not scared of big brother Japan and they're out to prove it! Well they are scared now. Ichiro fouls off a bunch of pitches and nearly takes the pitcher's head off with a liner up the middle. Two runs score, 5-3 and game over.
A wonderful tournament and Japan gets to call Korea its bitch for another four years. Sayonara and see you 2013!
Highlights and analysis of the final!