Randy Arozarena’s big-game legacy grows despite Mexico’s WBC elimination

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

The left fielder, with a stolen home run, two more timely catches and a leadoff double, did his best to help Mexico beat Japan in Monday’s semifinal. Mexico ultimately fell short as Japan pulled away in the ninth inning to advance to Tuesday’s final against Team USA (7 p.m. ET, FS1). But Arozarena provided plenty of talent and entertainment before being eliminated from the tournament.

“Randy was incredible today,” said Team Mexico coach Benji Gil.

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 drive in Monday night’s semifinal at loanDepot Park. Arozarena’s show began in the fifth inning when, with Mexico leading 3-0, he robbed first baseman Kazuma Okamoto of a leadoff home run. Following the ball flying past the warning track and over the left-field wall, Arozarena jumped and put his glove over the rail, only for the ball to land right in his glove.

As if the stoppage attack wasn’t enough, Arozorena also had the crowd and several players wondering where the ball went. With the ball in his glove and 35,933 fans going wild around him, Arozarena crossed his arms and stared straight ahead, his expression neutral. The crowd continued to roar and Arozarena just blinked. Catch and pose have to be seen to be believed.

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

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

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 because Arozarena ended 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 down the third-base line. That time, he allowed himself to smile and accept it as he trotted back into Mexico’s chamber.

Japan came back in the seventh inning with a three-run home run by Masataka Yoshida to make it a whole new ballgame. But in the top of the eighth, Arozarena re-energized Japan’s dugout with a one-out double before Alex Verdugo’s double that put Mexico back in front, 4-3.

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

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

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

“He gave us a chance to get back into the game after a home run that a lot of teams face against these types of teams 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’re warriors, you know?”

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

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