LOS ANGELES — An Adam Jones ground ball drove in Brandon Crawford with the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning, and the United States advanced to its first World Baseball Classic title game with a 2-1 victory over Japan at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.
The U.S. meets Puerto Rico in the championship game Wednesday. Puerto Rico (7-0) makes its second straight trip to the finals after losing to the Dominican Republic in 2013. The U.S. lost to Japan in the 2009 semifinals.
Crawford singled off Kodai Senga (1-1) with one out in the eighth, and Ian Kinsler followed with a double that hit midway up the left-center-field fence in a game that was played in a steady drizzle.
Jones hit a weak grounder to drawn-in third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda, who looked to the plate but lost control of the ball for a moment and had only one play at first as Crawford — running on the play — scored. Pat Neshek stranded runners on first and second base with two outs in the eighth inning and Luke Gregerson pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his third save of the WBC. There were more umpire reviews (four) than hits (three) in the first three innings before the U.S. scored an unearned run in the fourth inning to take a 1-0 lead.
Christian Yelich reached second base when second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi could not handle a hard ground ball with one out. Eric Hosmer walked with two out before McCutchen singled to left field to drive in Yelich. Kikuchi’s one-out homer on a 98 mph fastball from reliever Nate Jones tied the game at 1 in the last of the sixth inning.
U.S. right-hander Tanner Roark made his second appearance and first start of the WBC, giving up two hits and no runs in four innings before being replaced by Jones.
HOW THE GAME WAS WON: U.S. relievers Andrew Miller, Sam Dyson, Mark Melancon, Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson combined to get the final 11 outs after Japan tied the game on Ryosuke Kikuchi’s homer with one out in the sixth inning. Dyson, Neshek and Gregerson have not been scored upon in four WBC outings apiece. Melancon was making his first appearance after joining the team Monday.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: Japan had runners on first and second with two outs in the eighth inning but cleanup hitter Yoshitomo Tsutsugo lined out to right. Japan had runners in scoring position in the first and third innings but starter Tanner Roark stranded both.
TIP OF THE CAP: Japan right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano gave three hits and one (unearned) run in six innings and reliever Kodai Senga struck out five while giving up a tainted run in two innings. Sugano may not have the name of previous Japanese WBC pitching stars such as Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish and Kenta Maeda, but he was the MVP of the Japan Central League with the Yomiuri Giants in 2014 and was 9-6 with a 2.01 ERA with the Giants in 2016.
UP NEXT: The U.S. meets Puerto Rico in the championship game Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. Puerto Rico, the only team in the Western Hemisphere to win at least four games in each of the four WBCs, was shut out 3-0 by the Dominican Republic in final 2013 final. Puerto Rico beat the U.S. 6-5 in pool play Friday. Puerto Rico is also trying for its first WBC title
NEW YORK – (special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius injured his throwing shoulder over the weekend and will not play for the Netherlands in the final round of the World Baseball Classic.
Gregorius had a preliminary MRI exam on Sunday and was traveling back to the Yankees’ spring training headquarters in Tampa, Fla., for further tests.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters Monday that the MRI revealed the 27-year-old Gregorius has a hematoma of the subscapularis muscle in his right shoulder.
“It’s obviously not what you want to hear. Hopefully it’s something short,” Girardi said. “The evaluation from the doctor was his strength was really good, but we’ve got to see him. He’ll have more MRI tests tomorrow.”
Gregorius batted .348 (8-for-23) with four doubles, a home run and eight RBIs in six games to help the Netherlands advance to the WBC semifinals.
Girardi said the five-year veteran initially felt pain in his shoulder while throwing before Saturday’s WBC exhibition game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“That’s always your concern when guys play in the WBC, is they’re not with you,” Girardi said. “They’re not in your hands and that’s the hard part. I mean, arm injuries can happen, that’s the bottom line. The thing is, he hasn’t played a ton of defense.”
Gregorius batted .276 with 20 home runs and 70 RBIs in 153 games for the Yankees last season, setting career highs in hits (155), doubles (32), homers, RBIs and extra-base hits (54).
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told ESPN that even if Gregorius is out to begin the season, top prospect Gleyber Torres will not be the team’s Opening Day shortstop.
Torres, 20, entered Monday hitting .444 in 27 spring training at-bats but is expected to start the season at Double-A Trenton.
SAN DIEGO – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Second baseman Javier Baez singled, stole three bases and scored a run as Puerto Rico advanced to the final round of the World Baseball Classic with a 6-5 victory over the United States on Friday night at Petco Park. Puerto Rico (2-0) strung together six singles in a four-run first inning, and a throwing error by U.S. third baseman Nolan Arenado gave them two unearned runs and a 6-3 lead in the sixth.
The U.S. and the Dominican Republic, both 1-1, will play for the fourth and final WBC semifinal berth on Saturday night. Two-time winner Japan and the Netherlands already have qualified. The final round begins Monday in Los Angeles.
Brandon Crawford hit a two-out, two-run triple off Edwin Diaz in the ninth before Josh Harrison struck out to end the game.
Buster Posey and Adam Jones had bases-empty homers for the U.S., each hitting his second of the WBC.
Angel Pagan, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa began the parade of singles in the first inning off Marcus Stroman (0-1), with Correa driving in the first run. Carlos Beltran singled in Lindor and Yadier Molina followed with a single to drive in Correa.
Baez singled to load the bases before Eddie Rosario’s sacrifice fly to left field made it 4-0. Molina tagged and beat the throw to third but was tagged out when he came off the back, blunting the rally.
Arenado doubled and Eric Hosmer singled to make it 4-1 in the U.S. second off Seth Lugo (2-0). Posey’s homer in the fifth made it 4-2 and Jones’ homer in the sixth made it 4-3.
Baez was hit by a pitch and stole second in the sixth before Rosario walked. The two then pulled a double steal. Andrew Miller struck out Enrique Hernandez before Pagan grounded to Arenado, whose one-hop throw got past Hosmer at first base.
HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Stroman gave up three hits in 4 2/3 scoreless innings in his previous start against the Dominican Republic, but the top of the Puerto Rican lineup aggressively attacked him in the first inning. Most of their six singles were hit hard, some weren’t, but they all counted. Before giving up two runs in the ninth, Puerto Rico’s bullpen had pitched nine scoreless innings in this round.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: Daniel Murphy, DHing for the second time in the U.S.’s five WBC games, grounded into a double play with runners on first and second with the score 4-1 game in the second inning. Nolan Arenado has won four straight Gold Gloves with Colorado, but his uncharacteristic throwing error gave Puerto Rico two insurance runs in the sixth.
TIP OF THE CAP: San Diego native Adam Jones hit his second homer in as many games at Petco Park, trimming the gap to 4-3 in the sixth inning. Andrew Miller struck out two after replacing Mychal Givens in the sixth.
UP NEXT: Puerto Rico has quick turnaround, playing Venezuela (0-2) at 12:30 p.m. PDT Saturday. The United States (1-1) will meet the Dominican Republic in the final game of the second round on Saturday night, with Royals left-hander Danny Duffy scheduled to face Twins right-hander Ervin Santana with a berth in the semifinals on the line
SAN DIEGO – (Wire Service Report) – Gregory Polanco and Nelson Cruz hit solo home runs, and the Dominican Republic improved its chances of reaching the World Baseball Classic’s semifinals by posting a 3-0 win over Venezuela on Thursday in San Diego. Edinson Volquez struck out six in 4 1/3 scoreless innings as the Dominican starter. Five relievers completed the eight-hit shutout. Jeurys Familia allowed two hits in the ninth but struck out three to earn the save.
The defending champion Dominican team, a 3-1 loser to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, improved to 1-1 in the second-round pool. Venezuela, which lost its pool opener 4-2 to Team USA, slipped to 0-2 and is all but eliminated.
Polanco opened the scoring with a blast off Venezuela starter Jhoulys Chacin in the fifth inning. It was the only run Chacin allowed in 4 1/3 innings.
Robinson Cano hit an RBI single in the seventh inning, and Cruz added an insurance run in the eighth by homering off Arcenio Leon.
Team USA faces Puerto Rico on Friday and the Dominican Republic on Saturday. Puerto Rico opposes Venezuela on Saturday. The top two teams from the pool will join Japan and the Netherlands in the semifinals next week at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles