MIAMI, Florida (KTRK) -- The 2023 World Baseball Classic and its relevancy, especially in the wake of injuries to stars like Jose Altuve and Edwin Diaz, were being hotly debated down to the final out of the World Cup-style tournament.
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But beyond whether the multi-continental event puts athletes at risk of injury in seemingly meaningless games, one country came out of the tourney as baseball's best for the next three years.
Japan overcame Team USA's two solo home runs with two of its own on Tuesday night to come out on top, 3-2, in the WBC championship final in Miami, closing what was essentially a two-week, MLB season tune-up that actually counts in the record books.
Team USA were the defending champions who weathered a longer six-year wait between tournaments due to the pandemic and an expanded field from 16 to 20 countries. But the team fell short.
Team Japan adds a third WBC championship after winning the first two tournaments in 2006 and 2009.
Two Astros fall short of adding another title
Two American teammates, in particular, had a chance of adding additional hardware to the World Series championship trophy they earned with the Houston Astros just five months ago.
Outfielder Kyle Tucker and closing pitcher Ryan Pressly could have joined a rare club of major leaguers who won the World Series and the WBC within a space of a few months.
Despite the loss, the Astros teammates can look forward to receiving their 2022 world championship rings in nine days when Houston holds opening night festivities.
SEE ALSO: Astros' Martin Maldonado catches combined perfect game for Puerto Rico's WBC win vs. Israel