In a matchup riddled with political and social implications, Team USA hosted Team Cuba in the World Baseball Classic semifinals in front of a sellout crowd that was about 60/40 USA. With Adam Wainwright on the mound, they looked to punch their ticket to the final and a showdown with the winner of Monday’s game between Mexico and Japan. And boy, did they punch it!
A little shaky early
The game started rough for Waino as Cuba loaded the bases on three soft groundballs in the infield that barely made it past the mound. Manager Mark DeRosa said that he told Waino that he needs to focus on PFPs when he gets back to Cardinals camp. A full-count walk drove in the game's first run for Cuba and left Wainwright with the bases still loaded and no outs. He miraculously worked out of trouble with a fielder’s choice, a pop out, and a groundout to end the threat after only allowing one run to score. That would be the end of any sort of “trouble” for Team USA.
Suddenly this is a hitter’s park?
The batters for Team USA answered the call for help from their pitcher as Mookie Betts led off the bottom of the first with a double. Then, Wainwright’s Cardinals teammate, Paul Goldschmidt, clobbered a two-run home run to give the US the lead, 2-1. The ball left his bat at 112.0 MPH and traveled an estimated 407 feet.
After the game, Waino told reporters that Goldy came straight to him in the dugout and said, “we got your back.”
Trea Turner continued his torrid pace in the bottom of the second, hitting a solo home run with two outs to extend the USA lead to 3-1 (108.7 mph, 428 ft). Keep in mind he’s batting ninth.
Manager Mark DeRosa said postgame, “Every time he hit a homer, I kept saying to myself, ‘who’s the idiot that keeps hitting him ninth?’” That would be you, DeRo. Don’t stop—we are enjoying this!
Trea Turner’s 3 HR & 8 RBI while batting ninth this tournament are each the most by a player from the No. 9 spot in a single WBC— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) March 20, 2023
The runs keep coming
The third inning yielded more runs as Nolan Arenado singled, Kyle Schwarber was hit by a pitch, and Will Smith walked to load the bases with one out for Pete Alonso, who smacked a single into left to bring across two more runs. Two more runs were scored in the fourth as Goldschmidt walked and came around to score on an Arenado triple. Arenado scampered home as Miguel Romero threw a wild pitch to Kyle Schwarber with a full count.
Miles Mikolas takes over
After bouncing back from a rocky first inning, Wainwright went on to pitch three more scoreless innings before being replaced by Miles Mikolas in the fifth inning. Wainwright’s final line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 64 pitches, 42 strikes.
Mikolas also got off to a rough start as he allowed a double to Yoan Moncada to come around and score on an Andy Ibañez single to make it a 7-2 ballgame. Still, he shut it down from then on and fed off the energy of the crowd to complete four innings of his own. Mikolas’ final line: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 77 pitches, 52 strikes.
The rest of the game consisted of another Trea Turner homer, a run-scoring double from Trout, and a Cedric Mullins homer for a final score of 14-2 in favor of the United States.
Noah’s Notes and What’s Next
- The lack of a mercy rule in the elimination rounds might not be the best idea. It enabled Team USA to have its largest margin of victory of the tournament.
- Trea Turner joins current Team USA hitting coach Ken Griffey Jr. as the only USA players to ever hit two home runs in a single WBC game.
- There were three incidents of a protestor running out onto the field. The third one was body-slammed on the infield grass.
- Adam Wainwright said postgame, “That was the most crazy environment I’ve played in. Unbelievably blessed to have been a part of that game.” He also said that the Puerto Rico manager and close friend of his, Yadier Molina, has been giving him the silent treatment throughout the tournament.
- Cuba has been eliminated from the World Baseball Classic.
- Team USA moves on to the championship game, which will take place on Tuesday at 7:00 PM.
- They face off against the winner of Monday’s semifinal matchup between Mexico and Japan. LHP Patrick Sandoval vs. RHP Roki Sasaki.
- ‘Til Then!