Ichiro Suzuki was in a hitting slump for most of the 2009 World Baseball Classic but his bat came alive last night, as he carried Japan to a 5-3 Victory over South Korea.
Ichiro went 4-for-6 with two RBI, none bigger than his game winning hit in the top of the 10th inning with runners on second and third. The decision to pitch to Ichiro with the game on the line and an open base will be one that will be criticized for years to come.
Korea battled back to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth against Yu Darvish—who would eventually get the win in the tenth.
Darvish pitched two innings giving up one hit, one run, four strikeouts, and two walks. Iwakuma, Japan's starter, was brilliant over the 7.2 innings he pitched, only giving up four hits and two runs with six strikeouts.
Japan’s Daisuke Matsuzaka won the MVP award for the second straight time after going 3-0—the same record he had in the first WBC. The Boston Red Sox right-hander had a 2.45 ERA in 14 2/3 innings over three starts.
Korea was just over-matched as they were outhit 15-5, but kept hanging in there with terrific defense and forcing Japan to strand 14 runners and not cash in on several scoring opportunities. But in the end, Ichiro and the Japanese pitching were just too much to overcome.
I feel that the best team won this WBC and hopefully this classic will be one that will help increase its popularity in years to come.