Team USA used timely hitting and road the right arm of Marcus Stroman en route to the World Baseball Classic title. Last night, the US beat previously unbeaten Puerto Rico, 8-0. They had beat previously unbeaten Japan the night before in the semifinals. Puerto Rico finished in second place for the second consecutive WBC.
Last night, it was all about Stroman, who carried a no-hitter into the 7th inning. I love watching Stroman pitch and last night was one of the reasons why.
He rebounded from a rough start in his last outing (which also came against Puerto Rico). He walked former KC Royal Carlos Beltran to lead off the second, but then induced a double play from Yadier Molina. Stroman would induce 11 ground outs in the game, with Beltran being his only base runner until the seventh.
After a long top of the seventh that included two Puerto Rico pitching changes, Stroman went back out to the mound to face free agent outfielder Angel Pagan. Pagan ripped the 2-2 pitch for a double to left field. That ended the game for Stroman, who walked off to a standing ovation of more than 51,000 fans at Dodger Stadium.
The Tournament MVP threw just 73 pitches, 44 for strikes.
In came Sam Dyson, who induced a ground out before striking out the final two batters of the inning.
The US jumped on Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo, who had been dominant the entire tournament. Ian Kinsler, who earlier in the day spoke out about the Latin American countries players’ over-excitement when playing the game of baseball, hit a two-run home run in the third. In the 5th inning, the US added two more runs. In the seventh, Brandon Crawford drove in two runs with a single (with Giancarlo Stanton following with an RBI single) and Andrew McCutchen capped the scoring with an RBI single in the eighth.
Stroman was joined on the All-Tournament team by fellow US players Eric Hosmer and Christian Yelich. Hosmer went 1-for-2 with a double, a walk, a hit by a pitch, and a run scored last night. Not bad for a guy that was just 3-for-15 in spring training before leaving for the WBC.
Hosmer, Puerto Rican catcher Yadier Molina, and Netherlands DH Wladimir Balentien were the only unanimous selections to the All-WBC team. Balentien hit four home runs and drove in 12 (while hitting .615). Also joining the team were Puerto Rican players Carlos Correa, Javy Baez, Francisco Lindor, and Beltran. The Dominican Republic had outfielder Gregory Polanco named to this list (he hit .579). Israel closer Josh Zeid and Japan reliever Kodai Senga rounded out the group. Zeid struck out ten in ten scoreless innings, while Senga struck out 16 and walked one in 11 innings (though he took the loss to the US on Tuesday night).
Now it’s back to spring training.