Trea Turner Hits Grand Slam as Team USA Soars to Semifinal


Miami, Florida – In one of the most clutch moments in baseball history, Trea Turner smoked the game-winning grand slam lifting Team USA over Venezuela 9-7. Turner’s eighth-inning bases-emptying round-tripper is the United States’ third in World Baseball Classic history. He joins Jason Varitek (2006) and David Wright (2013). The shortstop’s late-game heroics helped overcome a major meltdown by the bullpen back in the fifth blowing a three-run lead. Jose Altuve exited the game that same inning due to being hit by a pitch. The Houston Astros have announced Altuve is being evaluated for the injury to his right hand and will provide more information on Sunday.

The Stars and Stripes will have little time to celebrate, however. They will play Cuba tomorrow night to determine who goes on to the WBC Championship. Coach Mark DeRosa has announced Adam Wainwright will be the starting pitcher.

Opening Moves

The Americans unleashed a hit parade in the first inning, pushing across three runs on five consecutive hits. After Mookie Betts led off with a single, he utilized some aggressive base running on Mike Trout’s base hit wheeling toward third. Beating out Ronald Acuna Jr’s errant throw, the US scored its first run on the centerfielder’s error. Back-to-back RBI singles from Paul Goldschmidt and Kyle Tucker added to the Stars and Stripes’ advantage, chasing off starting pitcher Martín Pérez.

Venezuela riposted with a two-run bomb from Luis Arraez off starting pitcher Lance Lynn turning it into a one-run game. The US had a chance to extend their lead in the second with a runner on third but Venezuelan reliever José Ruiz struck out Trout shutting the door.

Betts looped a sac fly in the fourth adding another run. Following Kyle Schwarber’s single, J.T. Realmuto reached on a fielder’s choice that turned into a throwing error by Andrés Giménez. The shortstop was trying to make a play at second base, however, the wayward throw moved up both runners. Also, Mookie drove it deep enough to center, plating Schwarber.

In addition, Tucker slammed his first WBC career home run in the fifth padding the Americans’ lead.

Highs and Lows

The momentum shifted dramatically on Venezuela’s next trip to the plate as the United States’ lead evaporated following the collapse of its bullpen. Without a doubt, Daniel Bard’s outing was nothing short of a nightmare. The reliever threw two wild pitches (one of them scoring Gleyber Torres), a pair of free passes, gave up a hit, and seriously beaned Jose Altuve who left the game. The Venezuelans pounced, tying the game via Salvador Perez’s RBI double. Acuna hit a sacrifice fly to center field for the go-ahead run making it 6-5.

Arraez hit his second dinger in the seventh. Prior to tonight’s contest, Arraez had never recorded a multi-homerun game at the Major or Minor league level. In doing so he also became Venezuela’s first in the WBC.

With time running out, Turner came through, homering in the eighth off reliever Silvino Bracho. With one powerful swing, he launched Bracho’s 0-2 changeup deep over the left field fence. Gifting his team the 9-7 lead, the relief corps made sure the advantage was maintained to secure the win.

Impressions

Wow. This one ranks near the top. It’s one of the most exciting baseball games I’ve ever seen. Definitely sits in the top three for the World Baseball Classic. Seeing Luis Arraez hit those two home runs has me hyped for the upcoming Marlins season. Moreover, the run production (and power) will be refreshing to see. Heading into the matchup I wondered how the pitching would fare. Lance Lynn battled through a very potent Venezuelan lineup lasting four innings setting up a firm foundation.

Why Mark DeRosa went with Bard, who was lit up previously by Mexico, is beyond me. Fortunately for the US, their powerful hitting rallied to undo the damage and the bullpen underwent a course correction. Altuve going down was tough to watch. You never want to see a player go through something like that. Hopefully, it isn’t a season-ending injury.

If you think tonight’s battle was tense wait until tomorrow. Especially since the Cuba-US bout has a political undercurrent and protests at the stadium are scheduled to take place. Politics aside, the field has been whittled down to the Elite Four. Furthermore, we will see if the defending champions can keep it going.

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