Pittsburgh Pirates: World Baseball Classic Final Round Set

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /

News: Last night, the World Baseball Classic saw its second round come to an end.  A Pittsburgh Pirates player made a big impact in the game.

The Dominican Republic took on Team USA last night in the final game of the second round.  It was an important game for both teams, as the winner would move on to the final round.  Also, it was a big game for the Pittsburgh Pirates as they had four total players facing off against one another. In the game, the Pittsburgh Pirates were represented by Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco.  Josh Harrison did not appear for Team USA.   In front of a sold-out crowd in San Diego, Team USA won by a score of 6-3. Giancarlo Stanton hit a big two-run home run to give the USA the lead in the fourth inning.  Adam Jones also robbed a home run in the 8th inning to help preserve America’s lead. Eventually, Andrew McCutchen sealed the win with a big hit.

Pittsburgh Pirates Performance

For the Dominican Republic, red-hot Gregory Polanco started in left field, while Starling Marte got the start in center.  Polanco continued his hot tournament by going three for four with two singles and a double. He was the only player on the Dominican Republic to reach base three times.  Meanwhile, Starling Marte struggled in his final game going 0-4 and not reaching base at all.  The biggest moment for Marte was when he struck out with two runners on in the fifth inning.  This was a big out for Team USA as they just took a four to two lead in the previous inning.

Also, Andrew McCutchen got the start for Team USA in right field. McCutchen, who has had a tough-luck tournament, came up with a big-time hit for Team USA in the 8th inning.  With two runners on and Team USA leading by one run, McCutchen hit a shot into the left-center gap for a two-run double.  On the hit, Christian Yellich and Eris Hosmer scored.  It provided insurance for Team USA as they went from a one-run lead to a three-run lead late in the game. This was his only hit of the day, but a big one helping secure America’s place in the final round.

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Tournament Stats

Polanco arguably has been the best hitter in the tournament.  If this performance is any indication of the approach he will take this year, then the Pirates could finally see Polanco reach his full potential. Polanco ended his World Baseball Classic tournament going 11 for 19 with a .579 batting average and an OPS well over 1.000. Polanco had two doubles, a home run, two RBI, and a stolen base in his five games played.

On the flip side, Starling Marte did not see as much success.  After a three-hit performance against Team USA in their first meeting, Marte failed to get another hit in the tournament.  He finished with just three hits, a home run (off Andrew Miller), and a double, in just three games played.  Marte struggled to get on the field due to a mildly sprained ankle. Now the two will head back to the Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training. This is good news for the team and fans as they look forward to seeing them back in the Spring Training lineups and getting them ready for the season.

For Team USA, Andrew McCutchen might have gotten the hit that will get his bat hot.  In his career, McCutchen seems to build on his own success, whenever he gets a big hit he normally has a strong stretch of games after.  McCutchen only has two hits up until this point, but he also has had some bad luck.  McCutchen has hit the ball hard numerous times but has hit it right at the defense.  One could see Cutch’s frustration when he got tossed in the game against Team Puerto Rico for arguing a strike three call.  For what it is worth, he was correct, the ball was outside. Hopefully, McCutchen’s luck turns around and some of the balls start to fall for hits. Meanwhile, Josh Harrison still only has five at-bats, and will likely remain on the bench in the next round.

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Final Round

The final round will take place in Los Angeles at Dodger stadium.  Team Puerto Rico will take on The Kingdom of the Netherlands in the first semi-final game.  Team Puerto Rico looks to make it back to the finals after losing to the Dominican Republic in 2013. The two teams will take the field on Monday night at 9:00 PM ETS.  After Monday night’s clash, Team USA will face off against Team Japan on Tuesday night at 9:00 PM ETS.  Team Japan has cruised through their side of the bracket and is looking to make the finals for the first time since 2009.  Japan won the World Baseball Classic in both 2006 and 2009.  Meanwhile, Team USA looks to advance to the finals for the first time ever.  Riding a big win, they may have the momentum to do so.