Team USA wins a thriller
WBC’s defending champs eliminated before loud sellout crowd in San Diego.
SAN DIEGO — This was the best of the World Baseball Classic, the kind of night that brought to life the vision of this tournament: a sellout crowd, a nine-inning serenade of chants and cowbells and drums and horns, and a thriller between two of the world’s best teams.
It was loud. It was fun. It was tense.
And it was won by the United States, the team so often shamed for not persuading its best players to participate and not getting a championship performance out of the players that do.
Giancarlo Stanton launched an epic home run for the game-winning hit, Adam Jones launched himself high above the outfield fence to make an epic catch, and Team USA beat the Dominican Republic, 6-3, in an elimination game Saturday at Petco Park.
For the Dominicans, the defending champions, failing to qualify for the championship round is a national sin. The Americans, who have never won the WBC, advanced to a semifinal game Tuesday against Japan, the country that won the first two editions of the tournament.
The U.S. beat the Dominican Republic for the first time in WBC history and avenged a first-round loss this month in which it blew a five-run lead to the Dominicans.
For the U.S. team, which has heard quite enough about how Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout and Bryce Harper and so many other American luminaries are not here, this was a sweet triumph for those that were here.
“There were a lot of people that respectfully declined, and we’re not going to throw anybody under the bus,” Manager Jim Leyland said. “We’re going to honor the people that accepted and are here. … That’s the only team I’m talking about. And right now that’s the only team I care about. And these players that are here are the only players I care about right now.”
In the seventh inning, with the U.S. nursing a 4-2 lead, Jones soared high above the center-field fence to rob Manny Machado — his Baltimore Orioles teammate — of a home run. The fans there did not exactly clear out for Jones, increasing what was already a very high degree of difficulty on the catch.
“I'm still in kind of shock that I even got to that ball,” Jones said.
The spectacular play became even more critical when Robinson Cano followed with what would have been a game-tying home run; the Jones catch meant the Americans carried that 4-3 lead into the eighth inning.
Andrew McCutchen’s two-run double in the eighth provided a welcome chance for the Americans to exhale.
U.S. OUTFIELDER Adam Jones robs the Dominican Republic of a home run with a spectacular catch in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game.