MIAMI – Trea Turner faced Venezuelan right-hander Silvino Bracho only once in his career.
“Look at the highlights of the at-bat,” he told me just before interviewing him at FS1.
“Bad?” I asked.
“Terrible,” Turner replied.
The at-bat occurred on September 26, 2016, in the ninth inning of Turner’s former team, the Nationals, defeating the Diamondbacks, 14-4. Bracho threw an 82 mph slider. Turner checked his swing. His first ground ball was so weak that he didn’t even run.
Pretty bad — and Turner’s standard-wide frame as Bracho loaded the bases into the quarterfinals of the World Baseball Classic on Saturday night was not on base in the top of the eighth, giving Venezuela a 7-5 lead over the United States. rice field.
Team USA’s $300 million ninth hitter, Turner, took a fastball for strike one. He fouled another fastball for strike two. At that point, one of his hits was a home run, but he was 13-for-3 in his WBC. As in normal spring training, he was still looking for his swing. Down 0-2, he hit Mookie Betts and Mike He knew Trout was hitting behind.
Bracho has only appeared in four major league games over the past four seasons. Venezuela coach Omar Lopez said left-handed José Quixada walked Tim Anderson, pinch-hitter Pete Alonso hit a bloop single, and JT called for an out after he hit Realmut. Closer Jose Alvarado didn’t have a chance with more than four outs, according to Lopez.
Bracho threw a changeup to Turner and threw it to the middle of the plate. This time, Turner didn’t check his swing. Instead, he furiously turned on the pitch and finished with a majestic single hand. On a night of so many doubts, when reliever Daniel Byrd suffered a horrific loss of control and turned a 5-2 lead into his 6-5 deficit, Turner was the ultimate no-dubter, an indelible grand slam. hit the
“I feel like I passed out,” Turner said.
he wasn’t alone.
Team USA manager Mark DeRosa said, “I saw about 35 people pass out, including the coach.
Memories of Turner, DeRosa, and their companions may be hazy, but a conscious person will never forget what they saw. Turner skipped to first base, shaking with excitement and gesticulating toward the dugout. He then finished third with virtually all of Team USA waiting to celebrate with him at home on his plate, as did Venezuela and many other foreign teams.
Major League clubs are modest and only empty their dugouts for a goodbye. But in the 2000-01 offseason Leones del DeRosa, who played for Venezuela in Caracas, knew Saturday night had to be different. WBC lost in single elimination. And Miami’s packed crowd was sure to be pro-Venezuela.
DeRosa told his players before the game to bring a passion to match the energy of Team Venezuela. He said if a U.S. player hits a home run, let’s meet at home plate. Nolan Arenado spoke with a similar message. Team USA will effectively be a road team, Arenado said. It will need to create its own energy.
After the Arenado finished, Adam Jones, 2017 WBC USA hero, entered the room. Cheer up, he said to his players. Speak louder for your teammates than the crowd. Oh, and pump singles if you want. Because that’s what opponents do.
“We were a little more dead in the billiards game,” said catcher Lealmuth. “But here, with so many fans behind them, they have to band together in the dugout and generate as much energy as possible. It was important to know.”
Jones wanted his U.S. players to be “dynamic.” That’s exactly what they did in the first inning, knocking out Venezuelan starter Martín Pérez on his fifth straight single to start the game and lead 3–0. Venezuela’s Luis Araez hit the first of two home runs in the second half and had a two-run shot that was the first to show that the night could be an anomaly, even by WBC standards.
Alaez, last season’s AL batting champion, has never hit two homers in the majors. But, as Turner later said of his team’s own USA comeback, “When you get punched in his mouth, you have to respond.”
There will be more punches. much more.
Kyle Tucker hit a home run in the fifth inning to restore Team USA’s lead to three runs. Lance Lynn pitched the first four innings against the United States, allowing the only run on a home run by Ares. DeRosa rested the bullpen on his off day. And his first pick was Bird, who allowed four runs in Team USA’s loss to Mexico in pool play, but rebounded in a scoreless inning against Columbia.
Bard, 37, has a history of control problems. In 2012, he developed “The Thing”, an inability to command Strikezone, and from 2014 he was out of the majors until 2020. But he still had his 36th highest number of steps among his 152 eligible relievers last season.
The first sign of trouble for the Birds on Saturday night was a five-pitch leadoff walk to Gleyber Torres. The Bard threw a wild pitch to propel the runner forward. Then came the appearance of the latest bait at-bat for his WBC critics who seem to ignore that unfortunate injuries also occur in spring training games.
Jose Altuve was Bard’s third hitter, so DeRosa couldn’t pull him over at that point without violating the three-hitter minimum. But based on Bird’s history, including his first outing in the tournament, it can be reasonably argued that he should never have thrown. It’s arguable that DeRosa should have eliminated him after the incident. Bard threw a second run-scoring wild pitch and issued another walk. He was eventually charged with four runs.
Why didn’t DeRosa start preparing another reliever the moment Bard issued a leadoff walk? said he needed to pitch. Still, even with limited flexibility, DeRosa shouldn’t have risked missing out on an elimination game.
The Astros will provide more information on Altuve’s condition on Sunday, but he left the park with his thumb still wrapped, and the first fear is that his finger is broken. said he was “extremely concerned” and “deeply concerned” about Altuve. Venezuela took the lead after Altuve hit. But Altuve’s injury was very disturbing, with Lopez saying “the whole dugout almost died”.
Just as Edwin Diaz’s freak knee injury overshadowed Puerto Rico’s surprising upset against the Dominican Republic, Altuve’s injury called it “one of the best games I’ve been in” It took away some of the brilliance of things. But the US players were still raucous as they left the park, in disbelief at what they had been through. noise. A grand slam by Turner and a scoreless inning by Devin Williams and Ryan Presley to keep the win.
“[The Royals’]Brady Singer was asking me what the playoffs were like,” said U.S. relief pitcher Adam Ottavino, who pitched in eight different postseason series for four different clubs. said. “I don’t even know if they’re like this.
Realmut even sent a nuanced message to those who chose not to participate, echoing Ottavino’s thoughts. Unbelievable,” Realmut said. “I am very proud of the line.
Still, Team USA will need to win two more games that could be equally intense if they are to successfully defend their WBC title. The first is Sunday night’s semi-final against Cuba, with Adam Wainwright taking on Roenis Elias. In the second, Tuesday’s championship he will face the semi-final winner of the game Mexico-Japan.
DeRosa used six relief pitchers against Venezuela, but Kendall Graveman and Aaron Loup didn’t pitch. Nick Martinez left the team on Saturday to rejoin the Padres, but singers Kyle Freeland and Meryl Kelly are skeptical with Cuba, assuming Miles Mikolas was postponed to start a potential final. are among the starters that should be available in the relief of
As crazy as it sounds, the regular season is looming like a disappointment. The competition at WBC is pure. The atmosphere in Miami is unique. With the roof closed at Lawn Depot Park, the blaring music and roaring fans are even louder. Kyle Schwarber had never attended a game with such electricity in March, Pressly said, “Winter he went to the ball to see how rowdy these fans would get.” It made me want to,” he added.
I’m tired. It’s exhilarating. And it’s not over yet.
(Top photo: Eric Espada/Getty Images)