The United States eked out a 2-1 victory over Japan in the World Baseball Classic semifinals on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. moves on to face Puerto Rico in the finals on Wednesday.
Andrew McCutchen broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fourth inning, singling in Christian Yelich who reached on a fielding error and advanced to second base when Eric Hosmer walked.
Japan wouldn’t respond until the bottom of the sixth when Ryosuke Kikuchi sneaked a solo home run over the right field fence, victimizing Nate Jones.
The U.S. took the lead for good in the eighth. With one out, Brandon Crawford singled and Ian Kinsler doubled, putting runners on second and third base. Adam Jones brought in the go-ahead run with a 5-3 ground out, giving the U.S. a 2-1 advantage.
Mark Melancon and Pat Neshek teamed up to get three outs in the eighth. In the ninth, Luke Gregerson got Sho Nakata and Hayato Sakamoto to ground out, then struck out Nobuhiro Matsuda to end the ballgame, sending the U.S. to the finals.
Japan won the first two World Baseball Classic tournaments, but will settle for a third-place finish in 2017. Puerto Rico was a runner-up in the 2013 tournament, losing to the Dominican Republic. The U.S. finished in fourth place in 2009.
The WBC final between the U.S. and Puerto Rico will be held at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night, starting at 9:00 PM ET.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.
Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.
Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies are making third baseman Maikel Franco “more than available” in trade discussions.
Franco, 24, is having an abysmal season after showing promise in 2015 and ’16. Through 289 plate appearances, he’s hitting .221/.280/.365 with nine home runs and 37 RBI. His hitting has tanked and his already below-average defense hasn’t shown any improvement.
It’s a bit surprising that the Phillies would be so eager to move Franco with his value about as low as it can go. Franco is also under control of the rebuilding Phillies through the 2021 season, so the team doesn’t have to rush into moving him. He will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season.
Furthermore, the Phillies don’t have an immediate replacement for Franco at third base. Andres Blanco would likely get everyday starts at the hot corner in the short-term, but as far as prospects go, there are no third baseman banging down the door. If the Phillies were to trade Franco, it would likely have to be in return for a young, talented third baseman who will be under team control for several more years.