WBC Notes: Andrew McCutchen’s RBI Single Helps USA Move on to Finals

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.

  • piraterican21
    March 22, 2017 9:47 am

    Today’s starter for team USA considered pitching for team Puerto Rico, Stroman mother is Puertorican, same with Arenado and George springer! I wonder how those households gonna feel tonight, I guess like I do, happy for either team.

  • Glad to hear the ankle has healed and he is ready to go. Marte is a major key to the success of the Pirates in 2017. I hope he can maintain a high average while lowering the K/W to about 3/1 – putting more balls into play.

    Marte was also annually increasing the number of HR from 12 in 2013 to 13 in 2014 to 19 in 2015, but in 2016 he dropped to 9 HR and his RBI total dropped from 81 to 46. Some of that was due to the 100 less PA in 2016 due to injuries, but a .285 with 15-20 HR, 65+ RBI would make a huge difference for the Pirates in 2017.

    • I’m interested to know why his power took such a big hit. Did his exit velocity drop off? Did his hard hit % drop? Did he change the mechanics of his swing?

      The 100 PA less than ’15 doesn’t account for the 50% drop off in HR’s.

      • Exit velo decreased by 2 mph and average fly ball distance decreased by 35′, which is huge.

        Hit more fly balls, which is great, but unfortunately saw the quality of that contact decrease.

        • Just curious, is that exit velocity on fly balls or on all balls in play? Just wondering because there were several times last year where Marte in a tough count seemed to intentionally kinda half swing at a ball and slowly tap it into play. With his speed they were easy singles. At the same time they had to have lowered his average exit velocity on all balls in play.

          • Sorry for the confusion, yes that was FB/LD exit velocity.

            • No problem. That is concerning. The optimist in me was hoping his penchant for weak infield hits had just drug the overall numbers down.

              • I’m not that concerned, honestly. Even if he doesn’t recover the power, he’ll make up for it on the bases, and if McCutchen returns to form, Polanco takes a step forward, and Bell and Kang each contribute as they can offensively, getting himself on base and into scoring position might be all he needs to do anyway to be a key piece of the offense.

                I know that’s a lot of if’s, but the talent is there for those to become when’s.

            • piraterican21
              March 22, 2017 12:07 pm

              NMR, are you gonna apply for the BD gig?

        • Scott Kliesen
          March 22, 2017 3:18 pm

          Lots of pop ups trying to get more lift?

    • RBIs really isn’t that important. It’s situational and comes with luck.
      As for the power concern, I think last year he adjusted his approach at the plate?