Yamada's 4 RBIs help Japan beat Mexico to advance to quarter-finals in Olympic baseball
Mexicans to face Israel in elimination game on Sunday
Former Central League MVP Tetsuto Yamada had four RBIs and broke open the game with a three-run homer, Hayato Sakamoto went deep off former big league pitcher Manny Banuelos and Japan beat Mexico 7-4 Saturday to win Group A at the Olympics.
Masato Morishita (2-0), a 23-year-old right-hander who is reigning Central League Rookie of the Year, allowed two runs and five hits in five innings. Rookie Ryoji Kuribayashi, who has 18 saves and a 0.53 ERA for Hiroshima in the Central League this season, got three straight outs for the save.
Joey Meneses, a 29-year-old in Double-A with Boston and the 2018 International League MVP, had three RBIs for Mexico, including a two-run homer in the eighth off Kaima Taira.
By rallying with three runs against the Dominican Republic in the ninth inning of its opener and finishing first in its three-nation group, Japan (2-0) gets Sunday off and plays Monday against the United States or South Korea (both 1-0), who meet Saturday night. Mexico faces an elimination game on Sunday against Israel (both 0-2).
Mexico starter Juan Oramas (0-1) allowed two runs and four hits in three innings.
Morishita, who pauses his windup with his left leg bent at a 90-degree ankle and only then finishes his delivery, gave up an RBI single in the first to Meneses.
Takuya Kai, the 2019 Japan Series MVP, hit a tying single in the second, and Hideto Asamura chopped a run-scoring comebacker in the third for a 2-1 lead.
Yamada, the 2015 Central League MVP and a six-time All-Star, turned on a fastball at the letters in the fourth from Arizona minor leaguer Edgar Arredondo for a 5-1 lead.
Mexico had runners at the corners with no outs in the bottom half. Adrian Gonzalez, a five-time All-Star whose last big league season was 2018, brought in a run when he grounded into his second double play to go along with two strikeouts.
Samamoto homered in the seventh off Banuelos, who had a 6.31 ERA in a big league career than ended in 2019. Yamada added an RBI single in the eighth.
Oliver Perez, a 40-year-old left-hander released by Cleveland in May, pitched got two outs in the ninth and did his familiar leap over the foul line.