Shohei Ohtani pitched shutout ball into the fifth inning and sparked a four-run third with a bunt single to lead Japan over Italy, 9-3, at Tokyo to put the Samurai Warriors into their fifth straight World Baseball Classis semifinal.
Boston’s Masataka Yoshida homered and drove in the go-ahead run with a grounder, giving him a tournament-leading 10 RBIs. Kazuma Okamoto hit a three-run homer for Japan, which has outscored opponents, 47-11, in five games and is batting .313.
Japan travels to Miami for a semifinal on Monday against Puerto Rico or Mexico. Cuba plays the other semifinal against the United States or Venezuela.
Pitching before an adoring crowd of 41,723 at the Tokyo Dome, Ohtani threw his fastest pitch since he joined the Angels in 2018, strlking out Vinnie Pasquantino on a 102-mile-per-hour fastball in the second. Ohtani (2-0) allowed two runs and four hits in 4⅔ innings with five strikeouts and a walk and went 1 for 4 with a walk at the plate. He is hitting .438 (7 for 16) with a home run, three doubles, and eight RBIs along with a 2.08 ERA, 10 strikeouts, and one walk on the mound. Ohtani would be available on four days’ rest to pitch in a possible final on Tuesday — 4 1/2 days, counting the time difference.
Mets Edwin Díaz expected to miss season
New York Mets closer Edwin Díaz has a torn patellar tendon and is expected to miss the season after hurting his right knee while celebrating a victory in the World Baseball Classic.
Mets general manager Billy Eppler said Díaz would undergo surgery Thursday. Without going into specifics, Eppler said a general timeline for recovery from this type of injury is about eight months.
“There are instances where athletes have come back earlier, more around the six-month mark,” Eppler told reporters. “But those are a little bit more of the exception than the rule.”
Díaz, who turns 29 next week, retired the side in order in the ninth inning of a 5-2 victory over the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night that sent Puerto Rico to the World Baseball Classic quarterfinals. As Díaz and his teammates jumped together in the infield, the righthander collapsed and reached for his right leg. He was taken off the field in a wheelchair.
“Edwin Díaz is a great human being and a fierce competitor,” Mets owner Steve Cohen tweeted. “All of us at the Mets are shaken but determined to sustain our quest for a great season. We wish Edwin a speedy recovery.”
Eppler said he spoke to Díaz several times and noted the righthander was in “great spirits.”
“He’s a resilient human being,” Eppler said. “That’s why he the closer he is. The dude doesn’t get rattled.”
The Mets signed Díaz to a five-year, $102 million contract — the largest ever for a closer — after he produced a spectacular 2022 season. All player contracts are covered by insurance through the WBC that spans the length of time the player is out with an injury suffered during the tournament.
Díaz went 3-1 with a 1.31 ERA and 32 saves in 35 opportunities while striking out 118 batters in 62 innings last season. He made his second All-Star appearance and finished ninth in the Cy Young Award voting.
The Mets do have relievers on their roster with closer experience as they attempt to replace Díaz.
David Robertson has 157 career saves, including 20 last season when he pitched for the Cubs and Phillies. Adam Ottavino has 33 career saves. Brooks Raley had six saves for the Rays last season.
Eppler didn’t have details on exactly what caused Diaz’s injury but said torn patellar tendons happen more often in other sports.
“It’s an injury that’s actually really common in the NBA and NFL,” Eppler said. “When you get excessive load put on your knee, it can happen.”
Cade Cavalli needs Tommy John surgery
Nationals pitching prospect Cade Cavalli needs Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery and will miss the 2023 season, general manager Mike Rizzo said. The team released a statement from Rizzo saying that an MRI showed Cavalli sprained his ulnar collateral ligament.
The righthander exited a spring training start against the Mets after 2⅔ innings on Tuesday.
“While Cade will not pitch in 2023, he continues to be a very important part of our franchise’s future and we look forward to having him back on the mound,” Rizzo said. “We will provide an update on his surgery when it is available.”
The 24-year-old Cavalli was the No. 22 pick in the 2020 amateur draft after playing college baseball at Oklahoma. He made his major league debut in August against the Reds, then felt something in his shoulder while playing catch the next day and was shut down for the rest of last season.
MLB will use Zoom for replay reviews
Major League Baseball struck a deal with Zoom Video Communications Inc. allowing on-field umpires to watch videos being evaluated by the replay operations center during contested calls.
MLB first adopted instant replay in September 2008 for home boundary calls and expanded it to a wide variety of decisions for the 2014 season. Until now, the on-field crew chief listened to the replay umpire in New York with audio only, joined by the umpire who made the initial call if different from the crew chief.
The umps walked over to the side of the field through 2013 to listen on a headset, then from 2014-21 an attendant brought out a headset to the field for them. Last year, umps switched to a wireless belt pack and MLB for the first time allowed then to announce replays and decisions over ballpark public address systems.
On-field umps this year will have 12.9-inch iPad Pro tablets brought out to them by a technician. They will be connected to the Zoom contact center and the replay operations center so they can see what replay is being viewed. The replay umpire still gets the final call.