All-Stars of Team USA outmatched, outpitched in WBC final

Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports
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MIAMI – As Trea Turner rounded the bases Tuesday night after hitting his fifth home run of the World Baseball Classic, the “M-V-P!” chants roared throughout LoanDepot park.

Turner’s tournament outing – tied for the most in a single WBC, with a grand slam – was a reminder of how just how stacked this United States team was.

But on a night when stars across the South Florida sports teams converged in the Miami Marlins’ home ballpark – Bam Adebayo and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, Jazz Chisolm Jr. of the Marlins and Xavien Howard and Jevon Holland of the Dolphins, to name a few – the stars on Team USA couldn’t deliver a victory in the championship game.

It was only fitting that the matchup ended with a thrilling duel between two of the sport’s best players, Los Angeles Angels teammates Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. And Ohtani closed out it, sending the United States home with a strikeout.

“It’s so difficult to hold our lineup to two runs,” said Team USA manager Mark DeRosa after Japan beat the U.S. 3-2. “I wouldn’t have thought that going in regardless of who were facing.”

Team USA’s roster featured a galaxy of stars – Trout, Mookie Betts of the Dodgers, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado of the St. Louis Cardinals, and plenty more.

But its pitching staff lacked the same marquee names.

AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander and Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw were a couple of many notable major league pitchers who opted out of the tournament. Kershaw, who just turned 35, pulled out of the event in February.

“There were some factors that were making it hard for me to play,” Kershaw said then. “I tried to work it out on my own, tried to work it out with MLB, union, the team. Everybody worked hard to try to make it work. Just wasn’t able to.”

The American hitters delivered all tournament.

Along with his five home runs, Turner had 11 RBIs, second only to Japan’s Masataka Yoshida with 13. Betts and Arenado added 10 hits apiece, the most through the tournament.

Kyle Schwarber brought the U.S. within one run Tuesday with his second homer of the tournament, a hit off Japan’s Yu Darvish that he sent 436 feet to right center.

“Position player-wise, this is a no-brainer,” DeRosa said during group play. “They’re going to take playoff ABs (at-bats) from jump … From a pitching standpoint, they had to get going a little bit earlier and had to ramp it up a little bit earlier.”

“But I think if this is going to go where it needs to go and can go that, yes, some of the major league clubs are going to have to be willing to be a little bit more, I don’t know the word I’m looking for, but OK mindset-wise with those guys playing.”

The timing of the tournament, taking place in the middle of spring training when pitchers are typically ramping up for a 162-game schedule, left many MLB teams and pitchers not wanting to risk injury or fatigue ahead of the long season. That showed in the United States fielding lesser known names throughout the tournament.

For the title game, DeRosa went with Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Merrill Kelly, who was pulled after 1 1-3 innings after he allowed three hits, a run and walked two with a strikeout.

“I hated pulling Merrill right there, and I know he wasn’t happy about it,” DeRosa said. “But we were fully loaded in the ‘pen and I felt like we had to keep the game close in that situation.”

Munetaka Murakami followed up his walk-off, two-run double in Monday’s semifinal win over Mexico by blasting Kelly’s first-pitch 92.4 mph fastball into the upper deck in right field. The play gave Japan a 1-0 lead in the second.

In the fourth, Kazuma Okamota homered off reliever Kyle Freeland to make it 3-1.

U.S. pitchers had a 4.20 ERA in seven games, allowed eight home runs and a tournament-high 59 hits.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that MLB has looked at moving the WBC to a different time, such as after the playoffs or in the middle of the season, among other things, to persuade more owners and general managers to lend their high-priced pitchers to the tournament.

“From a competitive perspective, I think the most important thing is we’re going to need to continue to work, particularly with our clubs, about pitching,” Manfred said. “Obviously, it’s great the guys we’ve had, but I think that I’d like to see pitching staffs that are of the same quality as our position players.”

Yankees score runs in final three innings for 4-1 victory over Dodgers

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – Despite battling injuries all season, the New York Yankees are still managing to pick up victories.

With AL MVP Aaron Judge sidelined after injuring his foot on Saturday, the Yankees got strong pitching and were able to use a little bit of small ball to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-1 Sunday and take two of three games in the weekend series.

“Just a really good all-around effort. A lot of winning things were happening in that game,” manager Aaron Boone said.

New York plated runs in the seventh and eighth innings on soft-contract grounders before Anthony Volpe provided some insurance with a two-run homer in the ninth.

J.D. Martinez homered for the Dodgers, who dropped the final two games in the series.

Clay Holmes (4-2) pitched one inning to pick up the win, and Wandy Peralta got the last four outs for his fourth save.

It was a pitchers’ duel for six innings between the Yankees’ Domingo Germán and Dodgers’ Bobby Miller. The right-handers matched zeroes as the teams combined for only four hits in the first six innings.

Dodgers’ rookie Miller allowed only one hit in his six innings, becoming the first Dodgers’ pitcher since at least 1901 to allow one hit or fewer within his first three big league starts. The 24-year old right-hander struck out seven and walked two in his third start.

Germán went 6 2/3 innings and allowed one run and four hits, including Martinez’s solo shot to tie it at 1-all in the seventh. The right-hander has limited opponents to one run or fewer in four of his last six starts.

Jake Bauers – who was playing right field in place of Judge – scored the game’s first run in the seventh on Kyle Higashioka‘s broken-bat grounder to short.

Bauers got aboard with a base hit then advanced to third when Brusdar Graterol threw the ball away on Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s bunt.

After Martinez’s homer, the Yankees retook the lead in the eighth against Evan Phillips (1-1). Oswaldo Cabrera drove in Anthony Rizzo with the go-ahead run with a slow roller that second baseman Miguel Vargas could only throw to first.

“It not being hit well helps when the fielders have to move a little. That’s what you’re selling out for. Good job by the base runners there,” Boone said.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said both balls could not have been placed any better by the Yankees’ batters.

“I don’t think they had a chance on both balls. The base runners had such a good jump. They were jam shots,” Roberts said. “There were a lot of things we did as far as giving away a couple bases on the defensive side.”

Volpe had two hits after being mired in a 3-for-38 slump his last 11 games. He extended the lead by driving Caleb Ferguson’s fastball over the wall in left-center in the ninth. It was Volpe’s ninth homer, which is second among AL rookies.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence,” said Volpe after the Yankees took four of six on the road trip.


Martinez evened it in the bottom of the inning with a solo shot to left-center. It was his 10th homer in the last 21 games.

Martinez has 20 homers against the Yankees, his third-most against any club. He has 35 against Baltimore and 23 vs. Cleveland. He is four homers away from 300 for his career.


Miller – the 29th overall pick in the 2020 amateur draft – looked like he might have a short outing after throwing 27 pitches in the first inning. He struck out three but also walked two.

Miller retired seven straight between the third and fifth innings before Volpe lined a base hit to center field with two out in the fifth.

“It felt really good. Been working on my slider a lot lately.,” said Miller, who threw 86 pitches, including 39 sliders. “They know I have a good fastball so I have to have my other pitches working as well.”


Yankees: LHP Nestor Cortes is expected to be placed on the injured list Monday or Tuesday due to a shoulder issue. Manager Aaron Boone said Cortes has been slower to recover between starts and is likely to miss one or two starts. … LHP Carlos Rendon (left forearm strain) will face hitters on Wednesday.

Dodgers: OF Trayce Thompson was placed on the injured list with a left oblique strain. OF Johnny Deluca was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City.


Yankees: Return home for six games starting Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox. RHP Clarke Schmidt (2-5, 5.01 ERA) has gone at least five innings in six of his last eight starts.

Dodgers: Hit the road starting Tuesday against Cincinnati. RHP Tony Gonsolin (3-1, 1.77 ERA) has gone 3-0 in his last four starts.