World Baseball Classic final: Japan vs USA - everything you need to know
Tonight, the defending champions USA will play two-time champs Japan in the finale of the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
We couldn’t have asked for a better matchup for the World Baseball Classic final - Team USA vs Samurai Japan. USA looks to become the second team to win back-to-back titles after their dominant 14-2 beating of Cuba. Japan hopes to earn their third title after eliminating Mexico in a dramatic semifinal finish.
When and where is the WBC final between USA and Japan?
The World Baseball classic final is Tuesday, March 21 with first pitch set for 7 p.m. ET at LoanDepot Park in Miami, Florida. Japan will be considered the home team since they are undefeated so far in the tournament, which means they will have the advantage of batting at the bottom of each inning. Team USA, the away team, has lost just one game.
Japan vs USA preview
USA’s Trea Turner has been on fire lately and their victory over Cuba was no different. He finished with two homers in the semifinal to make it three in the last two games. Merrill Kelly is the expected starting pitcher for the final against Japan. He surrendered two runs on four hits with two walks and one strikeout in three innings in their win against Colombia on Wednesday.
Japan’s dramatic semifinal victory came on a clutch leadoff double hit by Shohei Ohtani at the bottom of the ninth inning that sent him to second base. Seconds later, Munetaka Murakami hit a walk-off, two-run double to put Japan in the lead, 6-5 over Mexico and punch their ticket to the final. Shōta Imanaga will be Japan’s starting pitcher. He’s played two hames in relief in the WBC so far, giving up one run in four innings and striking out five.
Team USA has the advantage of having one extra day of rest. Japan has the advantage of being the home team. USA holds the overall lead with a 2-1 record over Japan, but Japan won their last matchup in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.