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Angels Do-It-All Star Shohei Ohtani Hits Pair of 3-Run HRs For Japan in WBC Tuneup

Angels Do-It-All Star Shohei Ohtani Hits Pair of 3-Run HRs For Japan in WBC Tuneup

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Shohei Ohtani hits pair of 3run HRs for Japan in WBC tuneup

On Monday night, Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani hit two three-run home runs for Japan in an exhibition game against Hanshin Tigers, helping Team Samurai come out with an 8-1 victory. His first homer was a 420-foot blast off one knee.

On Wednesday, Team Japan will begin play in the World Baseball Classic.

1. Three-run home run off Hiroto Saiki

On Monday night, Angels star Shohei Ohtani hit two three-run homers for Japan during a World Baseball Classic tuneup against the Hanshin Tigers. His first bomb came off righthander Hiroto Saiki in the third inning and another off lefthander Ren Tomida in the fifth.

Fans at Kyocera Dome Osaka were thrilled to watch the 21-year-old star take the field and hit some balls into the upper reaches of the dome. During batting practice, he received loud cheers and an enthusiastic ovation for his 420-foot blast that landed in center field, earning him a standing ovation.

After striking out in his first at-bat, the two-way star went down to his left knee for his next at-bat and still managed to hit a three-run homer off Hiroto Saiki. The slugger then displayed an impressive swing that many have compared to future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre.

At the World Baseball Classic (WBC), Ohtani is expected to be one of the major stars. His power and slugging will be crucial for Japan's success in Pool B against China; they open their campaign Thursday against China at Tokyo Dome and expect plenty of big games for Ohtani throughout the remainder of the season.

2. Three-run home run off Ren Tomida

Team Japan's Shohei Ohtani, one of the most renowned stars in the World Baseball Classic, hit two home runs against Hanshin Tigers on Monday during their WBC warmup game. He swung from his knee for the first one - a 420-foot bomb off Hanshin right-hander Saiki that landed deep into center field seats.

On his second at-bat, Ohtani took a long fly ball off left-hander Ren Tomida and flipped it over his head for another three-run shot to center field. This was his first hit back home since hitting an exhibition against The Netherlands on November 13, 2016, spurring on fans to cheer even louder as he went deep once more.

As the bat flew high over the ballpark's immense apex, Team Japan celebrated with an emotional home run that soared into the rafters. A sea of Japanese fans rose to their feet in a thunderous ovation - it was truly a game fit for a stadium full of major leaguers! And it also marked an historic win for Team Japan!

Japan's win was their first in an official World Baseball Classic tuneup, which will begin Wednesday against Cuba and Panama before beginning Pool B action against China on Thursday. Along with Ohtani, Team Japan also features ace Yu Darvish, major-leaguer Lars Nootbaar and Red Sox newcomer Masataka Yoshida.

The World Baseball Classic (WBC) is a 16-team tournament featuring host nations Japan, Taiwan and the United States. Japan has won two of the past four editions, so they will be looking to build on that success by giving an outstanding performance against top competition during this year's championship.

3. Three-run home run off Yoshinobu Yamamoto

In just over a week, the World Baseball Classic will get underway and Samurai Japan's roster boasts some of the top talent from both Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball. They're in Group B, so it would be shocking if they didn't advance past the quarterfinals in this tournament.

The tournament features 20 teams, with two from each pool making it to the quarterfinals in Tokyo and Miami. The top two teams from each group will advance to the final, which will be played at Marlins Park in Miami.

Team Japan brings a plethora of talent to the World Baseball Classic, but their pitching is one of their key assets. They have six starters and additional pitchers who can close out games later in the contest.

Yamamoto, who won the Sawamura Award in 2021, is an impressive pitcher with a fastball that can reach 100 mph. His splitter is highly sought-after by scouts, and his curveball also ranks highly.

He could be a major breakthrough star for Japan in the World Baseball Classic (WBC). At 21 years old, Sasaki threw a no-hitter for Chiba Lotte last year, and Kuriyama has high hopes for him as well.

In addition to Yamamoto and Sasaki, he's got Kodai Senga who was recently signed by the Mets. This major-league right-hander has been an impressive ace for Japan's national team in past years.

Another potential option is Tayron Guerrero, a hard-thrower who has struggled in the majors. He's currently at Cincinnati Reds camp this spring and could potentially show some progress during the tournament.

Ahead of them is an impressive batting lineup, led by Murakami (23), who may be the best hitter in Japan. He's been a standout for NPB over the past two seasons, hitting 56 homers and 133 RBIs last season and earning unanimous MVP honors.

They also boast some other top players, such as Ohtani and Darvish who recently signed their third six-year MLB contracts. It will be an exciting opportunity for these guys to get more starts and show off their talents at a tournament like this one.

4. Three-run home run off Masataka Yoshida

On Saturday, Japan received a major boost from two-way star Shohei Ohtani during their World Baseball Classic tuneup against Hanshin Tigers. He hit two home runs - one from his knee that soared into right center field dome at Central League's Hanshin Stadium.

The two-way star was a big hit in his debut game of 2023, and Japan will need him to maintain that performance if they want to win their third World Baseball Classic title since 2006. But other members of the Samurai team should also provide some offensive power at the plate.

Masataka Yoshida and Munetaka Murakami will both be formidable offensive weapons for Japan. Both are elite hitters in the Nippon Professional Baseball league, capable of hitting balls in any direction at any time.

Other major-league hitters on the roster could make an impact as well, including Miami's Realmuto, National League home run leader Kyle Schwarber and Boston's Trea Turner; plus MLB all-stars J.T. Turner and Kyle Tucker.

Kuriyama's WBC roster is impressive, but there are some issues that must be addressed for his team to succeed. Most significantly, his bullpen is young and lacks international play experience.

He must find a way to sustain his team's momentum through an extended run of games without giving up too many runs. Japan's best chance at success lies in finishing in the top half of Pool B and advancing to the quarterfinals, where they'll face off against each pool's victor.

Masataka Yoshida may not be the star player on the WBC team, but he's been one of the NPB's most productive players over recent seasons. A powerful left-handed hitter, Yoshida hit.335/.419/.561 with 21 home runs and 80 walks in 508 plate appearances for Orix Buffaloes in 2022.

Roki Sasaki is another player to keep an eye on in 2023, as he had an outstanding season last season for the Chiba Lotte Marines. If they can keep him in as a reliever, Sasaki could be an invaluable addition to Japan's lineup.

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