Team USA finally did it. Buoyed by a tremendous pitching performance from starter Marcus Stroman — who carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning — the United States routed Puerto Rico 8-0 in Wednesday night’s title game of the World Baseball Classic, securing America’s first-ever championship at the event.
Going from mediocre (they went into 2017 with a 10-10 all-time record in the tournament) to championship worthy wasn’t easy for the U.S. Although the American roster was stacked with major leaguers, the team once again found itself facing elimination after losing to Puerto Rico last Friday. Keeping its tournament hopes alive meant beating the Dominican Republic — the second-best team in WBC history by my calculations,1 (and one that had roared back to beat the U.S. a week earlier) — in a do-or-die qualifier, then beating Japan (the greatest team in WBC history) in the semis, and then turning the tables in a rematch with Puerto Rico (who were undefeated and playing as well as any WBC team ever).
Talk about a difficult path to a championship:
|DATE||ROUND||TEAM||ALL-TIME SRS RANK||USA’S RESULT|
|3/10||Round 1||Colombia||11th||W 3-2|
|3/11||Round 1||Dominican Republic||2nd||L 7-5|
|3/12||Round 1||Canada||17th||W 8-0|
|3/15||Round 2||Venezuela||9th||W 4-2|
|3/17||Round 2||Puerto Rico||5th||L 6-5|
|3/18||Round 2||Dominican Republic||2nd||W 6-3|
|3/22||Final||Puerto Rico||5th||W 8-0|
But the U.S. persevered through it all, and now they are WBC champions. And who knows — perhaps the win will even persuade more marquee players to represent America at future World Baseball Classics.
Now, if only they could do something about those painfully ’90s-looking uniforms.Share on Facebook