U.S. Routs Puerto Rico 8-0 For First World Baseball Classic Title: Highlights And More
The United States had a rough start to the 2017 World Baseball Classic tournament. Team USA needed extra innings to defeat Colombia, blew a 5-0 lead against the Dominican Republic, and lost to Puerto Rico 6-5 in the second round.
U.S. Thrashes Puerto Rico 8-0 in WBC 2017 Final
However, the Americans turned their luck around Wednesday night in Los Angeles, obtaining their vengeance on Puerto Rico with an 8-0 thrashing in the finals to secure their first-ever WBC title before an excited crowd of 51,565 at Dodger Stadium.
The U.S. got six no-hit innings from pitcher Marcus Stroman, while Ian Kinsler ignited the offense with a two-run homer, a single and two runs scored in routing a Puerto Rico team that had entered the championship game undefeated.
“We had a goal — to put the U.S.A. on top of the baseball world where it belongs, and we did exactly that,” said first baseman Eric Hosmer, who played on the 2013 team that got eliminated by Puerto Rico. “So we’re proud of the guys. It’s an awesome experience.”
The Americans had only made it to the semifinals once in the previous three WBCs. Now, they have won three straight elimination games against the Dominican Republic, Japan and Puerto Rico to claim their first WBC trophy.
“I don’t want to bore you, but my theme all along has been, ‘Make a memory, fellas,’” manager Jim Leyland said.
Team USA has made several memories recently. The pitchers allowed just two runs in the final 26 innings of the tournament, and Stroman— a Toronto Blue Jays ace— was the latest starter to deliver a great performance. Center fielder Adam Jones gave great hits and catches, Brandon Crawford was a defensive powerhouse, and Kinsler led on the offensive front.
Kinsler made social media go abuzz earlier in the day when he commented on the different styles of play in the WBC, remarks that some perceived to be a veiled criticism of Latino players. On Wednesday night, he hit a two-run homer off Seth Lugo in the third inning. Kinsler also singled and scored on Christian Yelich’s single in the fifth, thus giving the Americans a 3-0 lead and chasing off Lugo, a New York Mets right-hander, in the process.
Andrew McCutchen then put the U.S. up 4-0 with an infield single later that same inning. Crawford then smacked a bases-loaded, two-out, full-count single in the seventh. By that point, it was clear which team would win the game.
Stroman, who surrendered hits to the first six batters he faced in last week’s loss to Puerto Rico, greatly improved on Wednesday, and was named the WBC’s Most Valuable Player after the final.
— Blue Jays (@BlueJays) March 23, 2017
The 25-year-old right hander, who has a fiery personality, was eligible to play for Puerto Rico, where his mother was born. Stroman and his mother had been mocked on social media after he announced in December that he would pitch for the U.S. in this year’s WBC, though following the 2013 tournament he said he hoped to represent Puerto Rico in 2017.
Stroman’s no-hitter ended when Angel Pagan smacked a double into the left-field corner to kick off the seventh. The pitcher then walked off the field to a standing ovation, pounding his chest emphatically before entering the dugout.
“I love pitching in these moments. I love the atmosphere,” Stroman said. “I feel like the bigger the game, the more I’m able to get up, the more effective I am. I truly try to pride myself on being a big-game pitcher. This was probably one of the biggest — if not the biggest — game I’ve ever pitched in, and that was just a nod to coming off with the lead and giving us an opportunity to win that game.”
Stroman allowed only one other base runner, walking Carlos Beltran to start the second. However, he was rapidly erased when Yadier Molina grounded into a double play. Stroman also struck out Carlos Correa to end the fourth.
The U.S. players seemed to be more effusive in the final than they were in other games in the tournament. Players from other countries, mainly those from the Caribbean and Asia, seemed to have been having more fun in the WBC than the Americans, according to some. However, some of the Team USA coaches unsurprisingly disputed this notion.
“We’re having fun,” said Willie Randolph, the third-base coach for the U.S. “We’re having a blast. Just because we’re not trying to keep up with somebody else on the enthusiasm gauge, that’s not really important. Our team is as excited as any team in this.”
Clearly, this is a game that U.S. baseball players and fans alike would never forget.
LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 22: Marcus Stroman #6 of team United States pitches against team Puerto Rico in the first inning during Game 3 of the Championship Round of the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium on March 22, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)