WBC: USA Crowned With First Classic Title
On Wednesday night, both the United States and Puerto Rico entered the World Baseball Classic final looking for their first ever title. But only one team could claim the prize, and on a night that saw Puerto Rico chasing a perfect tournament, it was Team USA, that would come out victorious.
The night belonged to Marcus Stroman as he shut down the potent Puerto Rico offense with six perfect innings, retiring 17 of 18 straight batters, before Angel Pagan broke up the no-hitter with a double to left field ending Stroman’s night. But what a night it was, as he tossed six innings, with one hit, no runs, one walk and three strikeouts.
As for the USA offense, they broke through a 0-0 game in the top of the third, when Ian Kinsler launched a fly ball over the center field fence, with a runner on, to put the United States up 2-0.
Then in the seventh inning, USA broke open the game, with three runs highlighted by RBI singles from Brandon Crawford and Giancarlo Stanton and the icing on the cake came with a single from McCutchen in the eighth to seal the game at 8-0.
The Puerto Rican offense was just stymied all night, first by an unhittable Stroman and by a lead that was too large to overcome.
Seth Lugo started for Puerto Rico, pitched well for the first two innings, getting out of jams to keep the US offense off the board, but it just wasn’t in the cards for a Puerto Rico victory, giving Lugo a tough loss even in a game where he struck out seven batters in four innings of work.
Other than two hits by Pagan, and a single by Yadier Molina, the rest of the offense could not overcome the great pitching by their opponents, ending their chances of a perfect classic, losing their first game and their second straight Classic final.
But even in defeat, teams can show class, and that is what Puerto Rico showed throughout the whole tournament. They brought their island together with a passion for the game and for each other, and a movement that will be felt for years to come, until the next Classic in 2021.
Congrats to Team USA on a well deserved Title, and to Puerto Rico on showing the baseball world how fun baseball can be again.