In the first of two exhibition games against major-league teams before competing in the World Baseball Classic, Team USA fell flat against the San Francisco Giants, losing at Scottsdale Stadium in Arizona last night by a score of 5-1.
Despite boasting a roster of players totaling 57 All-Star Games and five MVP trophies, the American offense only generated one run on four hits while giving up five runs on 10 hits by the San Francisco Giants.
Luckily for Team USA, just like the rest of the major-league teams playing games in spring training right now, this game was meaningless in terms of affecting their championship chances. However, unlike the other major-league teams, Team USA faces meaningful competition as soon as Saturday night when they begin pool play against Great Britain.
Despite a poor pitching performance from Miles Mikolas, who gave up two earned runs in 2.2 innings pitched, some of the relief options out of the bullpen showed why they deserved to be on the national squad. David Bednar, Adam Ottavino, and Ryan Pressly pitched one scoreless inning each, with Ottavino being the only USA reliever in the game to retire the first three batters he faced.
While Team USA only scored one run and only tallied four hits, their highly-touted offense showed some promise in this first exhibition match. Leadoff hitter Mookie Betts walked in his first two at-bats and smacked a double to the centerfield wall in his third at-bat. Team USA’s cleanup hitter and reigning 2022 National League MVP Paul Goldschmidt scored the only run for the Americans himself, when he hit a home run to right field off projected regular season Giants starting pitcher Sean Manaea.
Moving ahead, Team USA plays its second and final exhibition game against a major-league team this afternoon at 3:10 PM ET. This time they square off against the Los Angeles Angels, USA captain Mike Trout‘s usual club.
Team USA manager Mark DeRosa confirmed that Pete Alonso will start at first base and Tim Anderson will start at shortstop, replacing Goldschmidt and Trea Turner respectively. DeRosa also told reporters that Merrill Kelly will start against the Angels, followed by relief appearances from pitchers Daniel Bard, Devin Williams, and Brooks Raley.
If you find yourself free on a Thursday afternoon and hungry for baseball, here a couple interesting WBC national team and major-league team exhibition games to keep your eye on: the odds-on favorite Dominican Republic team takes on the Minnesota Twins at 1:05 PM ET and Great Britain takes on pitcher Zack Greinke and the Kansas City Royals at 3:05 PM ET.