It’s like they knew that people weren’t paying enough attention. They wanted to add some drama. As I said, the bullpen did a pretty decent job of holding the lead. Not great, not enough, but they never let this game get away, and only surrended 2 runs in 5+ innings. Credit Joel Hanrahan for shutting down Puerto Rico after they tied it in the 4th and Matt Thornton for pitching a scoreless 5th. In the 6th, Heath Bell gave up a run, and Scott Shields came in with 2 on and 2 outs. Shields was able to get a 62 year old Bernie Williams to ground out and kill the threat. Shields finsihed the 7th as well, and JJ Putz pitched a scoreless 8th. Broxton gave up a run in the 9th to make things scarier. But Team USA fell behind 4-3 in the 6th, blew an offensive opportunity in the 7th, and allowed another run in the top of the 9th. Down 5-3, with the way the last few innings played out it didn’t look good.
Puerto Rico had brought in JC Romero to finish the 8th and he continued into the 9th. “Wait,” you say,” isn’t Romero banned from Major League Baseball for 50 games after testing positive for steroids?” Well, you are an idiot, because this isn’t the MLB, it’s the WBC! So after Romero Ks McCann to end the 8th, he started off the 9th by giving up a hit to the Shane Victorino.
You know him, he’s from the island of Hawaii, the one that’s part of the US and wants to be a state? Ok, that’s a bit unfair to PR, and frankly, I don’t know if most Hawaiians want to be a state. Too much digression… Brian Roberts showed why he should have originally been selected by following that up with another single. Jeter flied out but Victorino advanced, and then Roberts stole second. With one out, men on second and third, Jimmy Rollins worked in an 8 pitch walk.
At that point, Puerto Rico realized they were angering the baseball gods by allowing a suspended pitcher to play. Sure, he was allowed to play in the WBC, but come on, he’s suspended! I actually feel bad for Romero because there is alot of evidence that suggests he asked alot of the right people as to whether the substance he was taking would make him fail a test. If I were a pro baseball player, just plain chicken and egg whites for me! And speed. Just kidding, this isn’t 1970s and 80s baseball. In came Fernando Cabrera with the bases loaded, who proceeded to walk Kevin Youkilis and his goatee, driving in Victorino.
Finally, David Wright came up with 1 out and the bases loaded. He hit a looper that landed less than a foot shy of the RF line, on the fair territory side, and both Roberts and Rollins scored. The players mobbed each other like it was an October game.
Judging by the second picture, the team then decided to murder their hero. This ritual was apparently led by team captain Derek Jeter.
Wright does end up the hero going 3-4 with a walk and the final 2 RBIs of the game. Victorino was also great, going 3-4 as well and starting the 9th inning rally. Adam Dunn finally had a poor game, going 0-3 and 2 Ks. Nats fans get ready for that, and remember how much he contributed to the other wins. It’s the way he goes.
According to a great article on Yahoo sports about a US serviceman who watched the game and then got surprised by being able to celebrate the win with the team, Brian McCann said “That was the greatest game I’ve ever been a part of… Ever.”
What’s next for Team USA? Well, technically they have a game against Venezuela, tonight at 7 pm. But since this game isn’t an elimination game or do anything but determine seeding for the semi-finals, they may not try. Of course they’ll try, but they seem to lose those kind of games in this tournament. The seeding will be all set by Thursday evening. Cuba, Japan and Korea still have to sort themselves out. The semifinals are single elimination games, so remember to take a break from your NCAA tourney watching to check out the games. First semifinal is Saturday at 9 pm ET, the second one is Sunday at 8 pm ET. Smack dab in the middle of the second round of the NCAAs. Whoops. Luckily, if team USA wins, the finals will be held monday night at 9 pm ET, which means you can turn it on after Jack Bauer saves your butt once again and only miss 3 innings.