Potent quotables: 'Great guts'

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“Before, we were a good club that was gutsy. Now, we are a really good club with great guts.”



– Tony LaRussa, after the Cardinals
clinched their first NL Central title since 2006
with a 6-3 victory
over the Rockies on Saturday night.




“I’m not in a pennant race, but at least I have some pride. When you
get [to the clubhouse] and turn on a stupid-ass football game when
those [expletive] football players don’t give a [expletive] about you,
that’s embarrassing. We’ve got seven games [left]. They are going to
pull their [expletive] together, period. I don’t mind losing a game,
but when you lose a game and you don’t care about it, we are going to
have a problem. To get your asses kicked like that and all of a sudden,
you’re watching football games? That’s a bunch of [expletive].”




– Ozzie Guillen, after watching his
team blow a 5-0 lead
in an eventual 12-5 loss to the Tigers on Saturday
night. The White Sox have dropped eight of their last 10 games.




“When was the last time a 40-year-old pinch-ran for a 39-year-old? That’s what I want to know.”



– Brad Ausmus, after he pinch-ran
for Jim Thome during Saturday’s 8-4 comeback win over the Pirates. With
the victory, the Dodgers secured a trip to the postseason, however,
their magic number to clinch the division is down to two.




“This is fun.
You don’t start making a big deal about it with a week [to go]. I’m not
trying to do that. We’ve got our own destiny in our own hands. That’s
just the way it is. You either do it or you don’t. And I feel very good
where we’re at, but you have to go out and win games.”




– Jim Leyland isn’t letting the
pressure of a pennant race get to him
. With Saturday’s win over the
White Sox, The Tigers remain two games in front of the second-place
Twins with eight games left to play. They host a critical four-game
series against Minnesota on Monday.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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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

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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.