Thursday, March 16, 2017

2017 World Baseball Classic: USA Late Strike Defeats Venezuela

From the desk of:  PLANET BASEBALL


Venezuela        2
United States  4

Adam Jones Continues Leading USA in Right Direction

Team USA put forth perhaps their most complete performance to date, despite Venezuela leading 2-0 through the top of the seventh inning,

Venezuela opened the scoring as Carlos Gonzalez crossed the plate on Ender Inciarte's sac-fly to center.

Third baseman Rougned Odor later gave Venezuela a 2-0 lead with a home run to right in the top of the seventh.  But USA got a run back in the bottom of the frame when Jonathan Lucroy delivered home Eric Hosmer with a sac-fly to right.

Generally speaking, taking a lead in the bottom of the eighth is golden ... just ask Japan.  And Team USA did just that.   Center fielder Adam Jones tied the game at two with a lead-off home run to left/center.  Left fielder Christian Yelich followed with a single.  Then with one out, Eric Hosmer homered to right/center, giving USA a 4-2 lead, and final margin of victory.

On the mound, Seattle's Drew Smyly provided team USA with their fourth straight high quality performance.  He faced 16 Venezuelan batters over 4.2 innings, throwing 64 pitches with 44 going for strikes.  Smyly allowed one unearned run due to his own throwing error in the third, but otherwise allowed just three hits, no walks, and struck out eight batters before exiting on the losing side of a (then) 1-0 game.  Smyly needed to be that good because his Mariners team mate, King Felix Hernandez, pitched five innings of scoreless, three hit baseball against USA, with three strikeouts.

Jim Leyland utilized five relievers over the final 5.1 innings of the game, whom collectively limited Venezuela to one run on just three hits, issued one walk, and fanned a pair.

USA's victory sets up a Pool-F showdown versus undefeated Puerto Rico.

Made In The USA...

Former 2003 first round draft pick, Baltimore Orioles outfielder, and San Diego native, Adam Jones gets my preliminary vote for team MVP.  He drove in the winning run during USA's extra-inning Pool-C opener against Colombia, and in Round Two hit the game tying home run against Venezuela.   His is 5 for 18 (.278) through four games, with two doubles, a home run, three RBI, and three runs scored.

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