In Team USA’s opening game of WBC pool play last night, it was a well-balanced dose of solid pitching and good hitting that lead them to a 6–2 win over Great Britain.
Slow Start for USA Turns Into Offensive Barrage
The Americans faced a deficit early in the game when outfielder Trayce Thompson hit a home run for Great Britain in the second at-bat of the game. Adam Wainwright threw a curveball that dropped right in the middle of the strike zone and met Thompson’s bat to begin a journey that would send the ball into the left field seats.
However, just like the American Revolutionaries didn’t waver when they lost the Battle of Bunker Hill to the British, this American squad knew they were talented enough and patient enough to put together productive at-bats and eventually win this game.
Great Britain’s advantage didn’t last long. Team USA third baseman Nolan Arenado hit a double in the third inning and scored his Cardinals teammate Paul Goldschmidt for their first run of the game.
Three batters later, Team USA left fielder Kyle Tucker singled on a sharp line drive to center field. That hit scored Arenado to give Team USA a 2-1 lead.
One man representing the red, white, and blue—the stars and stipes, not the Union Jack—went on to give the US a commanding lead in the fourth inning. Thanks to the sweet swing of designated hitter Kyle Schwarber, the Americans dashed any hopes of a British comeback. A monstrous three-run homer 428 feet into the right field seats gave the Americans a 5–1 lead that would essentially decide the game.
After the game, Schwarber talked about his home run and staying calm after his team trailed in the first inning.
“It’s really cool, definitely a moment that I won’t forget,” Schwarber said. “For us, we’ve all seen a lot of games, we trust what we got… good things are gonna happen.”
The 41-year-old Wainwright (1–0) briefly relished in his first WBC appearance after the game. After soaking in the experience, Wainwright reminded fans that this is just the beginning of their title defense.
“Today’s a special day, it’s just getting started though,” Wainwright said. “We’ve got a bigger goal in mind, but today was fun.”
By the Numbers
Although Wainwright allowed a home run in the first inning, he settled down and ended with a solid pitching line. He finished his night with four innings pitched, giving up only the one home run, issuing one walk, and allowing five hits.
Despite going only 1-for-4 on the night, Kyle Tucker punished the ball. In all four of his at-bats he hit the ball in play with an average exit velocity of 100 mph. He even topped out in his third at-bat with a game-high 109.8 mph lineout to right field. Call it a case of bad luck on his part or good defensive positioning on Great Britain’s part, but I’m sure Tucker isn’t complaining as his single in the third inning gave the US the lead for good.
Nolan Arenado did it all as he led Team USA in hits. He went 3-for-5 with two RBIs on the night while also flashing his Gold Glove caliber defense at third base.
Everyone besides Jeff McNeil got on base at least once for the Americans. The team had an on-base percentage of .375 on the night, a trend they hope to continue in the tournament.
The United States–Mexico Showdown Looms Large
The stakes are high for both teams going into tonight’s Pool C matchup. Team USA aims to go to 2-0 in pool play after the win yesterday. While Mexico hopes to reverse fortunes and go to 1-1 after suffering an extra-innings loss to Columbia yesterday. You can catch the game tonight on FS1 at 10 PM ET.
With a more even crowd expected for tonight’s game versus Mexico, Arenado is excited for the contest.
“It’s gonna be fun and it’s gonna be a crazy environment,” Arenado said. “It gets us real fired up.”