U.S. Bats Come Alive Late in WBC Win Over Venezuela

Americans use home runs to win opener at Petco Park

It took Team America seven innings to score but it was worth the wait.

The USA came from behind to beat Venezuela 4-2 in their first game of the second round of the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday night at Petco Park.

Most of the evening was a pitcher’s duel. Drew Smyly got the start for the U.S. and was fabulous. He struck out eight with no walks in 4.2 innings and the only run he allowed was unearned. His offense just couldn’t get going.

The Americans had their first good scoring chance against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in the 3rd inning. Jonathan Lucroy, Alex Bregman and Ian Kinsler all singled with one out, loading the bases for San Diego native Adam Jones. He hit a walkoff single with the bases loaded to beat Colombia in the first game of the tournament but this time he grounded in to an inning-ending double play.

In the 6th inning the Americans threatened again. Jones hit a grounder to 3rd base and Rougned Odor tried to start a double play. His throw pulled Jose Altuve off the bag at 2nd and Jones beat the return throw to put runners on first and second with one out.

Venezuela manager Omar Vizquel went to Padres farmhand Jose Castillo to face the middle of the US order and the young lefty came up huge, striking out Christian Yelich then getting 3rd baseman Nolan Arenado, who has hit a combined 83 home runs the last two seasons, to strike out on a gutsy 3-2 changeup to end the inning.

The ball had not been carrying all that well at Petco but in the 7th inning Odor solved the marine layer with a mammoth home run over the Home Run Deck in right field. The solo homer put Venezuela up 2-0.

America finally got on the board in the bottom half of the 7th. Eric Hosmer scored on a Lucroy sacrifice fly to cut the lead in half.

Then in the 8th inning the United States let loose on the Venezuela bullpen. Jones, who went to Morse High School about eight miles from Petco Park, tied it up with a solo shot to left-centerfield off Hector Rondon. Three batters later Hosmer demolished another Rondon offering, smoking it in to the right-centerfield seats for the game-winning 2-run homer.

Hosmer seems to like hitting at Petco Park. He won the MVP award in last year’s All-Star Game after hitting a home run off Johnny Cueto.

Former Padres reliever Luke Gregerson worked the 9th inning for the save. The U.S. gets a day off then plays Puerto Rico, who is undefeated in the 2017 WBC, on Friday night before their rematch against the Dominican Republic on Saturday.

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