Trea Turner’s grand slam lifts Team USA over Venezuela in World Baseball Classic semifinals – Orange County Register
By ALANIS THAMES
MIAMI — Trea Turner hit an eighth-inning grand slam that lifted the United States against Venezuela, 9-7, on Saturday night and into the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic.
The defending American champion will face Cuba on Sunday evening for a place in the WBC final against Japan or Mexico. St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright will start for the United States against Cuba.
Venezuelan second baseman and Houston Astros star Jose Altuve started in the fifth with an injured right hand after being hit by a pitch from Daniel Bard. The Astros said there would be a status update on Sunday.
Trailing 7-5, the United States charged in the eighth on a walk, a single and a hit per pitch against losing pitcher Jose Quijada. Silvino Bracho relieved and Turner, the No. 9 hitter on the American roster, sent his 0-and-2 change 407 feet to deep left field for the third Grand Slam in WBC American history.
“Individually, I think that’s probably the biggest hit I’ve had…probably right up there with any hits I’ve ever had,” Turner said.
U.S. manager Mark DeRosa said Saturday’s win was one of the three greatest games he’s ever played in, including winning the World Series with the San Francisco Giants in 2010.
“I told the guys before the game that I wanted to match their passion,” said DeRosa, who once played for Venezuelan professional team Leones del Caracas. “I had played there. I had been a part of that, getting out of the dugout and jumping around… When Trea cut that balloon, honestly I saw about 35 guys, including the coaches, pass out and lose my mind for a minute. So it was just a great time.
David Bednar, the fifth of seven American pitchers, picked up the win and Ryan Pressly finished with three straight outs for the stoppage.
Luis Arraez, playing the ballpark he would soon call home with the Miami Marlins, played in the first multihomer game of his professional career and drove in four runs for Venezuela.
Team USA has a list of big names that many have chosen to repeat as WBC champions.
All nine batters in the United States starting batting order were All-Stars, including Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout, Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and third baseman Nolan Arenado.
The U.S. is in the top six in the tournament in batting average (.296), RBIs (34) and hits (48), and every U.S. starter has one hit against Venezuela, which had gone 4-0 in Group.
“Unfortunately, this is baseball,” said Venezuelan coach Omar López. “We have to accept that and as men we have to hold our heads up high. It’s not easy, especially when they came back into the game.
Venezuela took a 6-5 lead in a four-point fifth after Ronald Acuña Jr.’s sacrificial volley at deep center.
Salvador Perez drove into the tying run with a line double that snuck just inside the left field foul line.
Arraez hit a two-run drive to right field on the first against Lance Lynn, his first home run at his new home park, and added another top of the foul post from right field in the seventh against Bednar to give in Venezuela a two-point lead. . Arraez, the defending AL batting champion, was traded to the WBC host Miami Marlins this offseason after four seasons in Minnesota.
Bard replaced Lynn with a 5-2 lead in the fifth and charged with two walks, a hit and the ground that hurt Altuve.
Bard was taken off after Gleyber Torres scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-3 and Arraez hit an RBI groundout against Jason Adam.
The United States hit five straight singles to start the game. Betts started first with a single into the field, then the speedster ran first to third on Trout’s single to center, scoring when he forced a pitching error by Acuña.
Kyle Tucker homered for the United States in the fifth against Astros teammate Luis Garcia.
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