The United States beat Puerto Rico 7-1 in the second round of the World Baseball Classic Tuesday. Gio Gonzalez started on the mound for Team USA and David Wright had a huge night on the way to the big win.
Gio Gonzalez is coming off a career year with the Washington Nationals, and pitched five shutout innings against Puerto Rico. Gonzalez gave up three hits and struck out five, good enough for his first win of the WBC.
The second round match-up was played at Marlins Park, just outside of Hialeah, Florida where Gonzalez grew up. 32,872 fans attended the game at the new home of the Miami Marlins.
David Wright led Team USA with five runs batted in, including a bases-clearing double in the eighth inning that put the game out of reach. Wright recognized the strength of the USA lineup as a reason behind his success.
“Let’s be honest, it makes my job a lot easier when I’m hitting behind Ryan Braun, Joe Mauer, and have Hoss (Hosmer) behind me,” Wright said after the game. “It seems like every at-bat i’m hitting with runners in scoring position.”
David Wright has been as close to perfect as you can get for Team USA, as he hit a game-winning grand slam against Italy on Saturday. The New York Mets’ third baseman has even been called “Captain America” by viewers across the nation.
Every Team USA starter had at least one hit in the game except for Ben Zobrist, a Tampa Bay Rays utility player who hit ninth in the lineup for Team USA Tuesday. Eric Hosmer replaced Mark Teixeira on Team USA’s roster just a few days before the tournament began and has played well considering he didn’t get much time with the team.
Both Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Braun had two hits a piece and scored twice against Puerto Rico. The USA lineup combined for 12 hits and were 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
Ed Rosario was the only player for Puerto Rico with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 against Team USA. Angel Pagan drove in Puerto Rico’s only run with a groundout in the eighth inning.
Stars Alex Rios and Carlos Beltran combined to go 1-for-8 on the day as the three and four hitters in Puerto Rico’s lineup. Mario Santiago got the start for Puerto Rico, giving up three runs on five hits in just over four innings pitched.
The United States will take on the Dominican Republic Thursday night in what looks to be a great match-up. The Dominican Republic is undefeated in the WBC, and is led by MLB All-Stars Robinson Cano and Jose Reyes.
The Dominicans came back to beat Italy 5-4 on Tuesday in the double-elimination round. The winner between the United States and Dominican Republic will earn a spot in the semifinals, which will be played at the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park next week. The United States beat Puerto Rico but must now focus their attention on the Dominicans, who are as deadly as any team in the WBC.