Team USA entered their Pool F game against Puetro Rico hoping to remain undefeated in San Diego and move that much closer to the final round of the World Baseball Classic in Los Angeles. Unfortunately what was a strong point for Team USA throughout the whole tournament became its kryptonite on Friday.
Puerto Rico Defeats Team USA 6-5
Toronto Blue Jays ace Marcus Stroman last pitched in the WBC against the Dominican Republic in Pool C, throwing 4.2 scoreless innings. He looked to keep that pace going on Friday, but Puerto Rico’s hitters had other ideas. PR began the game with six-straight hits and took a commanding 4-0 lead after one. Stroman then settled down, throwing three scoreless innings. This outing marked the first time a starting pitcher from Team USA has allowed an earned run, breaking a streak of 17.1 innings without doing so.
Controversy and Errors
After putting a run on the board, solo homers by Buster Posey and Adam Jones decreased Puerto Rico’s lead to 4-3, but were sandwiched by a bit of controversy. Home Plate Umpire Will Little, who made no friends from the Dominican with his strike zone two days ago, tossed Andrew McCutchen after he argued a third strike call.
An ensuing throwing error by Nolan Arenado would give Puerto Rico two more runs, making a 6-3 lead that would hold until some drama in the ninth.
Ninth Inning Comeback
Facing Edwin Diaz with two on in the ninth, Brandon Crawford laced a two-run triple into the left-center field gap, making the score 6-5. Replay showed Crawford was, in fact, tagged out by Carlos Correa at third, but lack of replay in this round proved to be a blessing for the Americans. Josh Harrison came up with two outs as the go ahead run, but struck out to end the rally and the game.
Team USA’s next game is scheduled for Saturday against the Dominican Republic, with the winner clinching a spot in Los Angeles. Puerto Rico’s win tonight eliminated Venezuela from contention.