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Japan rallies by Mexico, makes WBC final

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MIAMI (AP) When Shohei Ohtani reached second base after hitting a leadoff double in the bottom of the ninth inning, he immediately looked up at the crowd and waved his arms, in a rare sign of emotion, as if he knew what was coming next.

Ohtani's clutch hit sparked a late rally, and moments later Munetaka Murakami delivered a walk-off, two-run double to lift Japan over Mexico 6-5 Monday night and into the World Baseball Classic final.

Two-time champion Japan will face the defending champion United States in Tuesday night's title game. Shota Imanaga will start for Japan - Yu Darvish had been set to pitch before a change was announced postgame. Merrill Kelly is likely to start for Team USA, which has won the WBC once.


Braves option Grissom, Arcia likely SS

The Atlanta Braves have apparently decided who will replace the departed Dansby Swanson as their starting shortstop. It's not who most people expected it to be.

Vaughn Grissom and Braden Shewmake were optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday. That leaves utility infielder Orlando Arcia as the likely replacement for Swanson, who left the Braves in free agency during the offseason for a $177 million, seven-year deal with the Chicago Cubs.


LHP Zimmermann among Orioles' cuts

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) The Baltimore Orioles have optioned left-handers Bruce Zimmermann and Nick Vespi and reassigned infielder Lewin Díaz, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez and catcher Mark Kolozsvary to minor league camp.

The Orioles announced the moves Monday.


Astros' Altuve has broken right thumb

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) Houston Astros star Jose Altuve has a broken right thumb and needs surgery after getting hurt in Venezuela’s 9-7 quarterfinal loss to the United States at the World Baseball Classic.

The Astros said Sunday they will announce a prognosis for the second baseman after the operation.


US trounces Cuba to return to WBC final

MIAMI (AP) Trea Turner, Paul Goldschmidt and an unrelenting U.S. lineup kept putting crooked numbers on the scoreboard, a dynamic display of the huge gap between an American team of major leaguers and Cubans struggling on the world stage as top players have left the island nation.

Turner homered twice to give him a tournament-leading four, driving in four runs to lead the U.S. to a 14-2 rout Sunday night and advance the defending champion Americans to the World Baseball Classic final.


Arenado hit on hand, X-rays negative

MIAMI (AP) Nolan Arenado left Team USA's 14-2 win over Cuba in the World Baseball Classic semifinals Sunday in the fifth inning after he was hit on the hand by a pitch.

X-rays on Arenado's hand came back negative, but it comes one night after Jose Altuve left a quarterfinal between the U.S. and Venezuela with a broken right thumb.


MLB teams have eye on Japanese P Sasaki

MIAMI (AP) If Rōki Sasaki knows the perfect time for him to switch to the major leagues, he's good at keeping a secret.

The 21-year-old right-hander pitches in a U.S. ballpark for the first time Monday night, when he'll start for Japan in a World Baseball Classic semifinal against Mexico.


P Martinez leaves WBC for Padres camp

MIAMI (AP) San Diego Padres pitcher Nick Martinez left the World Baseball Classic on Saturday after he wasn't guaranteed to start for Team USA for the rest of the event.

United States manager Mark DeRosa said Martinez will return to Padres spring training to prepare for the start of the major league season.


Reliever Romo to retire with Giants

PHOENIX (AP) Sergio Romo will retire as a member of the San Francisco Giants after helping the franchise win three World Series titles.

The 2013 All-Star was an integral part of the team's bullpen from 2008 to 2016; the Giants won titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014. He also pitched for the Twins, Athletics, Rays, Dodgers, Mariners, Marlins and Blue Jays.

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