Team USA took on Japan in the semi-finals of the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday night, with the winner of the game moving on to the finals. This was a tightly contested game for nine innings. Andrew McCutchen got the scoring started in the fourth inning, driving a single into left field with two outs to give Team USA a 1-0 lead. After Japan tied it in the sixth on a solo homer, USA took the lead for good on an RBI ground out by Adam Jones in the eighth inning.
Mark Melancon joined USA for this game and had trouble in the eighth, putting two runners on before he was pulled with two outs. Pat Neshek relieved him and stranded two runners, then Luke Gregerson breezed through the ninth for the 2-1 win.
McCutchen finished 1-for-4, with a single, strikeout, ground out and pop out to center field. Josh Harrison didn’t play in this game.
Tomorrow is the final game, as USA takes on Puerto Rico at 9:00 PM EST on MLB Network. Puerto Rico will be the home team.
Starling Marte Talks About the WBC
Starling Marte returned to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday. He will be in the starting lineup for Thursday’s game against the Red Sox, along with Gregory Polanco. It will be their first game for the Pirates in over two weeks. Marte played three games for the Dominican Republic during the World Baseball Classic, collecting three hits in the first game, before going hitless in the other two contests. He missed three WBC games due to ankle swelling, which occurred during the exhibition game against the Pirates on March 8th.
Marte talked to our Alan Saunders prior to Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. He was asked about the WBC, his ankle injury and his teammates who also took part in the WBC. Through team interpreter Mike Gonzalez, Marte gave his thoughts on everything.
On WBC experience
It was a lovely and a great experience. By far one of my favorite parts of the experience was being able to sit with the veterans and just pick their brain on how to read pitchers, how to have better movement when I’m on base and stuff like that. Overall, a marvelous experience.
On his ankle injury
I was able to submit to the trainer’s program over there. The trainer over there was in constant communication with our trainer over here and they were able to get me back in good shape. I’m feeling a lot better now. I could definitely play 9 innings. I was away for a few days, but thank God, I was able to bounce back and I feel very equipped and prepared.
On playing with Polanco on Team Dominican Republic
It was great, especially being able to just develop and confront and go against and face those types of pitchers and different types of pitching. There were moments in the dugout where I was able to pull him aside, speak some life into him and motivate him. Overall, it was awesome seeing him and I believe he’s ready for the season.
If he’s concerned about not having played much in new OF alignment
I actually don’t have any concern at all, being able to participate prior to the WBC with those other two. Being able to play with Polanco in the WBC, we had some really good reads. Overall, I think we have really great chemistry already. I don’t think there’s anything to be concerned about right now. McCutchen is getting some good reps over there in the WBC. I’m excited and I believe this is going to be a really good season for all of us.
On playing against McCutchen and Harrison
It’s fun, man. It was just really good being able to watch them and being on an opposing team watching them compete and stuff like that. I take pride when I watch my other teammates compete and be able to compete at that caliber of baseball. I thought it was pretty funny us giving each other little hints about how the others play and them giving their teammates hints about how me play. Overall, it was fun.
If he was upset at McCutchen’s double vs DR
If anything, it helped me compete even more. I love that type of competition. I can’t get mad at McCutchen. These are two great teams playing at a great caliber. To have him make that hit, it’s something I get excited for him, as well.