World Baseball Classic: USA just gets by Colombia 3-2

Mike Trout provided some offense for Team USA against Team Colombia at Chase Field on Wed Mar 15, 2023 (AP News photo)

USA 3. 7. 0

Colombia. 2. 6.0

Time: 3:02

Attendance: 29,856

Wed March 15, 2023

By Lewis Rubman

PHOENIX-Mexico’s resounding defeat of Canada this afternoon means that the United States went into this evening’s contest against Colombia knowing that, having lost to Mexico the only time the two teams faced each other in this series.

The the most that Team USA could achieve would be to enter the quarter-finals of this year’s World Baseball Classic as the second seed from Pool C. A loss to Colombia would eliminate the sons of Uncle Sam. As things turned out, the USA won a thriller, 3-2.

Because of the tournament rules covering pitcher usage, the Colombians had to play without the services of Adrián Almeida, Nabil Crismatt, and William Cuevas, while Lance Lynn, Nick Martínez, and Brady Singer were unavailable to the team from the States.

The USA had entered this round as number one seed and so had to play only one game as the visitors. This was it.

Colombia’s manager, Gilbert Cabrera, chose to go with lefty Luis DeAvila as his starting pitcher. That’s not a household name; its bearer went 6-8, 3.49, for Rome in the class high A South Atlantic League last year.

Mark De Rosa picked right handed Merrill Kelly, 13-8, 3.37 over 200-1/3 for the Diamondbacks, to open for Team USA, who will be, for the only time in this five day round, the road team.

DeAvila escaped trouble in he first inning when, on the heels of Mike Trout’s triple and a walk to Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado lashed a wicked double down the third base line that a beautiful play by Gio Ursula converted into an around the horn, inning killing double play.

Ursula, batting third in the home plate then made the last out second baseman Tim Anderson robbed him of a hit with an equally. Beautiful backhand pickup of a grounder to the right of the base, pivot, and mid air bullet throw to first.

De Avila retired the first two batters he faced in the second, the last one beingKyle Schwarber, who sent a fly to the warning track in left. Then the young Colombian starter was yanked in favor a right handed pitcher, Santiago Flores, also a class high A hurler. He struck Tim Anderson out swinging.

Colombia mounted a credible threat in their hat of that frame, loading the bases on walks to Jorge Alfaro and Jesús Marriage, sandwiched around a Texas League single to Melbrys Vitoria, but Kelly wiggled out of the jam.

The US broke the ice with two down in the top of the third. Mookie Betts rifled a safety to right and moved into a scoring position on a wild pitch while Mike Trout was at the plate. Trout then singled him home, and Team USA had a 1-0 lead.

After Paul Goldschmidt walk, the call went out to the bullpen for Jhon Romero of the Minnesota Twins. Nolan Arenado greeted him with a blast into the second deck in left field, but that line drive flew in a straight line to left of the foul pole.

Two pitches later, Arenado straightened out his trajectory, and ball landed in the glove of Jesús Marriaga in the warning track, the second warning track, to go with two spectacular grabs he’d made closer to the infield earlier in the game.

The Colombians knotted things up in their half of the frame. Oscar Mercado doubled to center with one away and advanced to third on Harold Ramirez’s ground out to second. He scored, in spite of Trout’s fine throw home, on Urshula’s sacrifice, then Alfaro hit a single to short, and Rodríguez knocked a 92 mph four seamer 425 deep into center field that brought Colombia’s catcher home. Melbsrys Viloria’s hard line drive to Trout ended the threat, but Colombia now lead, 3-1. To make matters worse for the red, white, and blue, Romero struck out the side in the visitors’ fourth.

It was Kendall Graveman, a nor Kelly, who pitched the bottom of that inning for the USA. Kelly had gone three innings and allowed two run, booth earned, on four hits,and two walks. He threw 61 pitches, 36 for strikes.

Colombia switched pitchers again for the top of the fifth. Rubén Galindo began his mound work by walking Will Smiithand striking out Trea Turner. Then Betts singled to left, sending Smith to third and taking second himself on the throw. After Turner fanned, exit Gallino, enter Jasier Herrera.

Daniel Bard assumed mound duties for the USA to start the hone fifth, a scoreless frame, notable for a successful challenge of the safe call on Mercado’s attempted steal of second. The call was reversed, and, if that had not happened, the USA might not have been leading 3-2 at the end of the episode.

Yapsón Gómez relieved Herrera with one on and one down ib the top of the sixth. (Are you following all these changes? Because I sure as hell can’t). And David Bender toed the rubber for Team USA in second half of the frame and set ‘em down, 1, 2,3. Jason Adam did the same in the seventh on three straight Ks.

Next to climb the mound was Guillermo Zúñiga for Colombia in the top of the eighth. After he put the Yanks down to a conga beat, Devin Williams tried his hand for them in the home half of the inning. He played it well; three up, three down.

It fell to Julio Vivas to try to keep Colombia in striking distance of a comeback in the top half of the ninth. He his job, and it now it was up to Ryan Pressly to preserve the USA’s precarious lead.

He got Alfaro to ground out to Nolan at third. Rodríguez lined out to Betts in right. Elías Díaz pinch hit form Viloria and managed to hit a single to short. Jordán Díaz pinch hit for Gustavo Camera. He swung and missed at an 0-2 curve ball. The ball bounced off towards third. Díaz ran to first but catcher Will Smith’s throw beat him, and the USA beat Colombia.

Kendall Graveman was the winning pitcher. Ryan Pressly got the save. Rubén Galindo was charged with the loss.

The team will go to Miami.

And tomorrow, I’ll head home. But first, I’ll stop in Surprise to take in a game. Between the A’s and the Royals at 1:00 in the afternoon. I’ll send you my impressions of that.

World Baseball Classic: Mexico leans into pitches with 11-8 win over USA

Mexico’s Joey Meneses celebrates as he runs the bases after hitting a three-run home run against the United States during the fourth inning of a World Baseball Classic game in Phoenix, Sunday, March 12, 2023. (AP News photo)

Mexico. 11. 15. 0

USA. 5. 8. 0

Time: 3:41

Attendance: 47,534

Saturday, March 12, 2023

By Lewis Rubman

PHOENIX–Saturday’s encounter with Mexico (0-1) was the first opportunity for this year’s version of Team USA (1-0) to test its mettle against a serious opponent in a meaningful game. On opening night, the Yanquis had romped to a 6-2 triumph over Great Britain that was closer than expected. This came on the heels of Mexico’s upset 10-inning, 5-4 loss to Colombia 5-4.

Mexico’s starting pitcher, Patrick Sandoval, had a pretty good season last year. Toiling for the woeful Angels (I mistakenly called them the Dodgers in a previous article), he went 6-9, 2.91 in 148-2/3 innings over 27 games. Whether that performance was an outlier or the sign a marked improvement is yet to be seen; his lifetiebig league mark is 10-24, 3.70).

Nick Martínez, Team USA’s starter, is another middle of the road hurler. He went 4-4, 3.47, for the Padres, which brought his career MLB totals to 21-34,4.50.

Thanks to the WBC’s pitch limit of 65, it made sense for manager Mark De Rosa to have puled Martinez early, but, under normal cirumstance, he might have lasted longer.

Randy Arozamena got things going with a leadoff grounder to short. He was called out, but the video replay showed he was safe, and the call was reversed. After Alexander Verdugo flew out to center, Joey Meneses launched a 396 line drive hone run into the left field seats below the auxiliary press box, putting the visitors ahead, 2-0.

Kyle Tucker’s one out triple to right and a Tim Anderson single to the same field put the USA on the board and halved Mexico’s led in the second.

But Mexico came roaring back in their half of the third, restoring its two run margin on a series of infield singles, culmination in one to send by Isaac Paredes that plated Meneses and brought ex-Athletic Kendall Graveman to the mound to replace Martínez, who had lasted a mere 2-2/3 innings, in which he surrendered three tallies, all earned, but not merited, on five hits and a walk while striking out two. He threw 57 pitches, 33 for strikes.

After Graveman got his man, Brady Singer took over for him to start the fourth. He got his first man, but Aleck Thomas singled to left, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and, with two down, scored on Arozamena’s two bagger to center. 4-1, Mexico. Then, after Verdugo walked, Joey Meneses did it again; a line drive over the left centerfield fence, 412 feet from home. 7-1, Mexico.

Sandoval didn’t come out for the bottom of the fourth. He had thrown 55 pitches, 33 of them counting as strikes, and allowed one run, earned, on two hits and a walk. He was replaced vy Javier Assad, who retired the side in order.

It was Adam Ottovino on the hill for Uncle Sam in the sixth. That he got the side out in order is worth mentioning. That Meneses was one of the batters he retired is noteworthy. Otttovino then gave way to Aaron Loup for the top of the seventh frame.

Joseph Romero relieved Assad after the huge crowd of 47,534 sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” He got KyleTucker to fly out to center and fanned Tim Anderson, but then Will Smith took the ball out to left field seats to make the score 7-2.

The visitors’ eighth began with Daniel Bard pitching for the States. Austin Barnes greeted him with a ground single to center and then moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch and scored on Arozamena’s line drive double to left. When Bard finally was replaced by Devin Williams, Mexico was ahead, 11-2, achieved in ways too numerous to name. Williams retired a line drive to second to staunch the bleeding.

César Vargas took over for Mexico to face the top of the US lineup in the home eight. Betts gave him no trouble, but he issued a passport to Trout. Goldschmidt then singled to left, sending the pinch running Cedric Mullins to third. Bobby Witt, Jr. pinch hit for Arenado and lashed a two bagger to center, and it was 11-3 with Goldschmidt on third.

Vargas got Pete Alonso on a pop up to first and then gave way to Samuel Zarzueta, who gave a free pass to Tucker. With the bases loaded, Anderson smacked a double to left, bringing in Goldschmidtand Witt and sending Tucker to third. Now score was 11-5. It stayed there after Thomas caught Smith’s sharp liner to center.

Ryan Pressly entered the fray to face the battered but still leading Mexicans in the top of the ninth. He put them away to a samba beat, one-two-three.

Now it was was up to Gerard Reyes to preserve his team’s six run lead. He did it.

Sandoval was credited with the win; Martínez was charged with the loss.

Monday, at noon Colombia (1-0) will face Great Britain (0-2), followed at 7:00 by Canada (1-1) against the United States (0-1). This round of the WBC is turning out to be pretty Interesting

San Francisco Giants podcast with Michael Duca: Pitching shuts down Team USA in Giants 8-1 win in WBC

The score says it all as the San Francisco Giants defeated Team USA on Wed Mar 8, 2023 at Scottsdale in the World Baseball Classic (@SFGiants photo)

On the Giants podcast with Michael:

#1 World Baseball Classic has sprung at spring training in a huge way just from the marketing aspect how brilliant of an idea was it to have it simultaneously with the Cactus League.

#2 The Giants hosted Team USA at Scottsdale on Wednesday and defeated them 5-1. Team USA had on hand manager Mark DeRosa, the players Nolan Arenado, Kyle Tucker, Trea Turner, JT Realmuto, and Jeff McNeil.

#3 Team USA is picked as one of the favorites along with Japan and the Dominican Republic. Japan had won in 2006 and 2009 in the WBC.

#4 It was the pitching that made the difference for the Giants win with Anthony DeSclafani, Sean Manaea, Scott Alexander, John Brebbia, and Mauricio Llovera. Alexander, Brebbia and Llovera threw shutout ball in the last three innings.

#5 Paul Goldschmidt whose haunted the Giants in the past lead off in the sixth and hit a home run off Manaea. Goldschmidt was the NL MVP in 2022 for Team USA’s only run.

Join Michael Duca for the Giants podcasts each Thursday at