What we're watching – June 8

Leave a comment

– The Rays and Yankees have split the first two games of rain-shortened
three-game series, and Andy Sonnanstine and Andy Pettitte will go in
the deciding game tonight. Sonnanstine is 4-5 with a 7.07 ERA, but he’s
turned in two nice outings in no-decisions against the Bombers this
year, allowing four runs in 12 1/3 innings. Pettitte, who was matched
up against Sonnanstine on April 15, has also faced the Rays twice and
received two no-decisions. He gave up eight runs in 13 1/3 innings
between those two outings. Carlos Pena has owned Pettitte, going
11-for-33 with four homers against the left-hander.

– Scott Feldman, who has picked up victories in each of his last
three starts, will try to improve to 6-0 by beating the Blue Jays. He’s
yet to pitch seven innings in any of his starts, but he’s been getting
great bullpen support, even when the runs haven’t really been there.
Casey Janssen, who is 1-2 with a 5.82 ERA in three starts since joining
Toronto’s rotation, will be the opposing starter. He was solid in his
first two outings, but he needs to bounce back from a poor showing
against the Angels last week in order to guarantee his continued
presence in the rotation.

– Nate McLouth gets to take on his former team just five days after
being sent from the Pirates to the Braves. He’s one of four former
Pirates on the Atlanta roster, which is pretty unusual for a team that
has 13 players either homegrown or at least having never played for
another major league organization. Mike Gonzalez and Jeff Bennett were
both drafted by the Pirates, and David Ross also served a stint in the
organization.

Game of the Night

San Francisco vs. Florida – Just four days after picking up win No.
300, Randy Johnson will go for No. 301 on short rest. He’s allowed
three runs — two earned — in 17 1/3 innings over his last three
starts, and he’s 8-1 with a 1.78 ERA against the Marlins in his career.
The opposing pitcher will be 22-year-old Sean West, who has a 3.31 ERA
in three starts since being called up last month. West is 6-foot-8, so
tonight’s matchup will rank tied for second on the list of tallest
opposing starting pitchers. The matchup between the 6-foot-10 Johnson
and the 6-foot-9 Daniel Cabrera ranks as the biggest. Cabrera versus
fellow 6-foot-9 hurler Mark Hendrickson had stood alone in second.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

Denis Poroy/Getty Images
2 Comments

United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

Harry How/Getty Images
6 Comments

The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.