Yokohama – Samurai Japan didn't require any late drama this time.
Tetsuto Yamada made sure of that.
Yamada hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning and drove in another run in the eighth as Japan cruised to a 7-4 win over Mexico in their opening round Group A game at the Tokyo Olympics at Yokohama Stadium on Saturday.
"Our first game against the Dominican Republic was very tough and the players did their best to come back and win," Japan manager Atsunori Inaba said. "Today as well, Mexico scored first and we were able to score runs and catch up. So I felt that was great."
Japan, debuting new red uniforms, improved to 2-0 at the Tokyo Games. This win, though, was much less stressful than the last, when Japan needed a three-run rally in the ninth to top the Dominican Republic 4-3 on Wednesday.
The Japanese batters didn't have the same problems that plagued them against the Dominicans, who were led by Yomiuri Giants pitcher CC Mercedes.
Beyond Yamada's four RBIs, Takuya Kai was 3-for-4 with an RBI and Hayato Sakamoto, whose sayonara single ended the game against the Dominican Republic, was 2-for-2 with a double and a home run.
"My condition has been really, really good," Yamada said. "I am swinging the bat well and I can feel that I'm doing well at the Olympics so far. Today's results is a reflection of what we practiced before we came here. So we were prepared to win today."
Inaba has preached speed and power in the runup to both the Premier12 and the Olympics and both were on display against Mexico. Yamada stole two bases and Japan finished with four overall to go with the two home runs.
"Yamada's home run really gave us a boost and a positive feeling, so that was big for our team," Inaba said. "Hayato's home run also. We also had the stolen bases. Everyone was aggressive in their baserunning and that was great for our team."
Masato Morishita held Mexico to two runs in his five innings on the mound, allowing five hits and striking out three.
Mexico fell to 0-2 at the Games.
"I would say today we just had a little bit of an issue with offense," said Mexico's Efren Navarro, who played in Japan with the Hanshin Tigers in 2018 and 2019. "We didn't respond to the situation we were facing. But honestly, that's just baseball. that can happen at any time."
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