Monday, March 13, 2017

2017 World Baseball Classic: USA Finally Gets Act Together

From the desk of:  PLANET BASEBALL


Dominican Republic Reminds USA Who's Game This "Was"

The other day I thought over-extending the bullpen in Game One against Colombia wound wind up costing the United States dearly against the Dominican Republic.  Needless to say, after a game that started out so promisingly ended in agonizing defeat for Jim Leyland and Team USA, I stand by that.

Everything started off great.  USA led 5-0 after 5 1/2 innings helped along by RBI from left fielder Christian Yelich, shortstop Brandon Crawford, and right fielder Giancarlo Stanton.  Even better, starter Marcus Stroman pitched brilliantly (just like Chris Archer before him), throwing 4.2 innings of scoreless, three hit baseball.  He faced 17 batters, and threw a full allotment of 64 pitches with 37 going for strikes.  He did not allow a walk and fanned four.

After which, the wheels on USA's wagon essentially fell off.  Dominican Republic went on to score seven unanswered runs, highlighted by an explosive four-run eighth inning.

Leyland initially utilized Tanner Roark - a starter for the Nationals - in relief of Stroman, whom proceeded to allowed three earned runs on three hits, including a home run.  Later in the eighth, Jim Leyland allowed reliever Andrew Miller to face six batters, in which he surrendered three hits with two going for home runs - but none more devastating than Nelson Cruz' three-run rope into the second outfield deck at Marlins Park.

  • The game set a Marlins Park record for attendance.  Moreover, the clearly partisan crowd in Miami roared for the Dominican Republic.
  • Even if you're a fan who is still on the fence regarding the World Baseball Classic, how could you not get caught up in this game?

USA Finally Fires on All Cylinders Against Canada

Team America received a third straight stellar performance from their starting pitcher.  Kansas City Royal Danny Duffy faced 14 batters, and threw a full allotment of 63 pitches with 44 going for strikes.  He pitched four scoreless innings of two hit baseball, with no walks, and a nifty seven strikeouts to earn the victory.  Canada fared no better against USA's bullpen, whom combined on five innings of scoreless, two hit baseball, walking one, and striking out eight.

Canada's starter Ryan Dempster made a nice effort to participate in these games, but in truth he failed to be even somewhat effective.  USA encountered no problem scoring early and often against him.  A pair of RBI from Eric Hosmer and another from Buster Posey staked USA to a 3-0 lead in the first.   In the second, Nolan Arenado launched a three run home run over the left/center field wall.  Posey promptly followed with his second RBI of the game, giving USA a 7-0 lead.

Buster Posey homered in the seventh for good measure as Team USA dispatched Canada by an 8-0 final to advance into Round Two.

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