Never discount the Americans.
After entering the top eight with her back against the wall after two runs, Trea Turner hit an undeniably brilliant sea-to-sea grand slam to give the Americans the 9-7 lead that gave their club’s quarterfinal victory over Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic on Saturday night at LoanDepot Park in Miami.
Turner’s second home run of the tournament gave the Americans a new lifeline to repeat as WBC champions, as their chances looked bleak with Venezuela six out, with a two-run lead, from advancing to the semifinals.
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“When you get hit in the mouth, you have to respond,” Turner said in his postgame interview on FOX. “I felt like I was in a good place to let the fastball go deep and just put the barrel on it and not try to do too much.
“It was electric, that was a lot of fun. I don’t really know what I did (round the bases), I feel like I passed out.”
Team USA entered the bottom of the fifth with a 5-2 lead, however the Venezuelans recorded four runs in the frame to jump out in front 6-5. Daniel Bard replaced starter Lance Lynn, who pitched four innings allowing two runs, and imploded for the United States.
Bard gave up all four runs on one hit and two walks without recording an out. The 37-year-old was pulled by the Rays’ Jason Adam, who came in with the bases loaded and nobody out and gave up the lead.
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The Marlins’ Luis Arraez, playing in his new ballpark after an offseason trade sent him from the Twins to Miami, added another run that gave his club a 7-5 lead in the bottom of the seventh. Arraez was the standout player on his Venezuelan squad, going 2-for-4 with two home runs, four RBIs and three runs.
The 25-year-old displayed a power stroke he hasn’t had during MLB play, as the left-handed hitter has just 14 career home runs in 389 games. However, he does have an AL batting championship under his belt after hitting .316 for the Twins in 2022.
Martín Pérez was the starter for Venezuela on Saturday and landed the quick hook. Team USA opened with three early runs, all charged to Perez, in the top of the first as the lefty recorded just one out and allowed five hits. Astros right-hander Luis Garcia took most of the workload from Perez as he pitched four innings and allowed two runs.
Devin Williams pitched a scoreless eighth while Ryan Pressly did the same for the end to clinch the final 9-7.
The United States will now turn its attention to Cuba, which awaits them in Sunday’s semifinal in Miami. The pitch has been a hot topic for the Reds, Whites and Blues, however DeRosa could turn to 41-year-old Adam Wainwright, who should be well-rested should he be called up for the matchup.
Wainwright pitched four innings, allowing five hits and one run and striking out four against Great Britain on March 11 in USA’s WBC opener.
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The winner of Sunday’s matchup will await the results of Japan led by Shohei Ohtani against Mexico, who defeated Team USA in Pool C on March 12, Monday night. Either way, the arduous task of repeating as champions won’t be any easier for the Americans.