LONG BEACH— The USA came back from the verge of defeat last night and it was beautiful.
I returned to my homestead in need of baseball. Fortunately I have cable so I receive the MLB channel. I flipped on the tele and there it was. Team USA was down 3-5 in the ninth inning. It didn’t look good.
I had missed the beginning of the game due to prior engagements but I made it home in time to watch the final inning. Shane Victorino came up to start the inning. The announcers talked about the “new” team; built with speed and small ball skills. Shane made it to first.
That brought Brian Roberts up. Another switch hitter with speed. A fabulous steal and a nice at bat from Roberts put two on for Derek Jeter. Jeter fought off some pitches and lofted one to the right fielder. Victorino took third on the play.
Runners at the corners with one out and Jimmy Rollins at the plate. I’d watch him hit a home run in the first game against Venuzela a week or two ago. I’d love to have seen him pull that off again. JC Romero was pitching to him. They are Phillies team mates so the tension was there. JC had Jimmy’s number with the slider. Rollins took a big cut and came up empty. He fouled off a few more pitches before eventually drawing a walk to load the bases.
Up comes Kevin Youkilis. Something about the way this guy stands at the plate is just annoying. But I knew he was patient enough to wait for a good pitch. He never got that good pitch to hit. Instead he drew a walk to force in a run. 4-5 Puerto Rico. 9th inning. 1 out. Bases loaded.
David Wright steps up to the plate. Never in my years as a Braves fan have I been happy to see this guy step up to the plate. But there he was. Representing America. He worked the pitcher. Waited for the right pitch and then with a nice inside out stroke looped a little single into right field. Roberts Scores! Rollins Scores! USA WINS!
What a game. I only wished I’d seen the entire game. But the 9th inning was amazing enough.
People will continue to complain about these Series. The timing. The format. The injuries. It’s all fruitless. I’ve explained before that this is the best time to do it. The only thing I’d change about this series is the number of games. I’d add to it. The non-believers just need to go to a game. It’s the most fun you’ll have in Spring watching baseball.
Now, will the US be able to take this all the way?