World Baseball Classic
Randy Arozarena's big-game legacy grows amid Mexico's improbable WBC run
World Baseball Classic

Randy Arozarena's big-game legacy grows amid Mexico's improbable WBC run

Updated Mar. 21, 2023 6:59 p.m. ET

MIAMI — If anyone can outmatch the energy and atmosphere of the World Baseball Classic, it’s Randy Arozarena.

The left fielder, with a home-run robbery, two more timely catches and a double to score the go-ahead run to boot, did his best to help Mexico against Japan in Monday’s semifinal. Ultimately, Mexico fell short when Japan walked it off in the ninth inning and advanced to Tuesday’s final against Team USA (7 p.m. ET, FS1). But Arozarena provided plenty of talent and entertainment before getting knocked out of the tournament.

"Randy was incredible today," Team Mexico manager Benji Gil said. 

Arozarena, also known as the most confident man on a baseball field from his postseason exploits with the Tampa Bay Rays, was the antithesis of Japan’s momentum in Monday night’s semifinal at loanDepot park. The Arozarena show began in the fifth inning when, with Mexico leading 3-0, he robbed first baseman Kazuma Okamoto of a leadoff home run. Tracking the fly ball beyond the warning track and all the way to the left-field wall, Arozarena leaped and stuck his glove above the railing, only for the ball to land directly in his mitt. 


As if the momentum-halting catch wasn’t enough, Arozorena also deked the crowd and several players into wondering where the ball went. With the ball in his glove and 35,933 fans losing their minds around him, Arozarena crossed his arms and stared straight ahead, wearing a neutral expression. The crowd continued to roar, and Arozarena just blinked. The catch and the pose have to be seen to be believed. 

Moments later, during a pitching change, Arozarena retreated to the wall and started signing autographs for the overcrowded fan section in left field. And when he wasn’t interacting with the crowd, he was making more game-altering plays. 

Mexico's Randy Arozarena robs Japan of a home run in the fifth inning

Japan managed to load the bases with two outs in the fifth inning, but only for Arozarena to end the frame with another catch against the left-field wall. Then, again in the sixth inning, Arozarena ended Japan’s second bases-loaded threat with a running catch toward the third-base line. That time, he allowed himself to smile and take it in as he jogged back into Mexico’s dugout.

Japan came back in the seventh inning on Masataka Yoshida’s game-tying three-run home run to make it a whole new ballgame. But in the top of the eighth, Arozarena again zapped the energy from Japan’s dugout with a one-out double ahead of Alex Verdugo's double that put Mexico back in front, 4-3. 

Randy Arozarena was the player of the WBC, but his story is even better

Over six WBC games, Arozarena produced seven extra-base hits, nine RBIs and a .450/.607/.900 slash line. Even though his remarkable effort wasn't rewarded with a victory Monday, it might be only a matter of time before Arozarena’s statue — clad with a sombrero and cowboy boots — is erected in Mexico.

"He gave us the opportunity to come back to the game after a home run that many teams facing this kind of team with so many stars, they could have given up," Gil said of Arozarena. "But, no. He started this rally. We fought. Again, we took the lead. They are warriors, you know?"

Deesha Thosar is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the Mets as a beat reporter for the New York Daily News. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.

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