SAN DIEGO - The United States is going to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic for the second time thanks to another impressive home run by Giancarlo Stanton at Petco Park and a spectacular catch at the fence by hometown favorite Adam Jones.
Stanton hit a go-ahead, two-run shot into the third-level balcony of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building in the left-field corner in the fourth inning and Jones robbed Baltimore Orioles teammate Manny Machado of a home run in the seventh to help the Americans beat the Dominican Republic 6-3 on Saturday night, eliminating the defending champions.
Team USA will face Japan on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium for a spot in the championship game.
A number of big-name players declined to play for the United States. Manager Jim Leyland appreciates those who did sign up.
“There were a lot of people that respectfully declined and we’re not going to throw anybody under the bus,” Leyland said. “We’re going to honor the people that accepted and are here. So we’re moving forward and that’s all we’re talking about. . . . And right now that’s the only team I care about. And these players that are here are the only players I care about right now.”
Those who were with Team USA certainly put on a show.
Stanton’s homer gave the United States a 4-2 lead and put a charge into the sellout crowd of 43,002.
The slugger’s shot was reminiscent of his Home Run Derby victory at Petco Park on July 11, when he peppered the far reaches of the big downtown ballpark, including hitting one onto the top of the 108-year-old brick warehouse.
“Yeah, it did kind of feel like the Home Run Derby,” Stanton said.
Three innings later, Jones leaped and reached over the fence in the deepest part of the park in right-center to rob Machado of a home run. Machado tipped his helmet to Jones.
“I’m still in kind of shock that I even got to that ball,” said Jones, who played at Morse High about 13 km east of Petco. “I mean, off the bat I’m just like, ‘This ball’s hit really far, so just keep going, keep going. You know this California air’s going to slow it down and just never quit.’ That’s just the style I play with. I don’t mind running into a wall or two. I just kept going after the ball.”
Puerto Rico wins again
Carlos Correa, Carlos Beltran and Team Puerto Rico are heading up the freeway in fine shape.
Already assured a spot in the World Baseball Classic semifinals, Puerto Rico beat Venezuela 13-2 Saturday for its sixth straight tournament win. Mike Aviles got four hits and drove in three runs to pace the team’s 17-hit attack at Petco Park.
“Ever since we started practicing in Arizona, we have visualized doing what we need to do,” Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “We need to complete the uncompleted task from 2013.”
Puerto Rico, runner-up to the Dominican Republic in the 2013 WBC, will play the Netherlands on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.