Turner’s grand slam lifted the USA over Venezuela, in the WBC semi-finals – KGET 17

MIAMI (AP) – Trea Turner hit a grand slam in the eighth inning to lift the United States over Venezuela 9-7 on Saturday night and into the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic.

Defending champion USA will face Cuba on Sunday night for a place in the WBC final against either Japan or Mexico. Dešnjak St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright will start for the USA against Cuba.

Venezuelan second baseman and Houston Astros star Jose Altuve left in the fifth with a right hand injury after being hit by Daniel Bard. The Astros said there would be an update on his status on Sunday.

Trailing 7-5, the United States loaded the bases in the eighth on a walk, single and hit by losing pitcher Jose Quijada. Silvino Bracho was relieved and Turner, the No. 9 hitter in the U.S. lineup, sent his 0-2 changeup 407 feet into deep left field for the third grand slam in U.S. WBC history.

“Individually, I think this is probably the biggest hit I’ve had … probably right up there with any hit I’ve ever had,” Turner said.

American manager Mark DeRosa said Saturday’s win was one of the three greatest games he’s ever been involved in – including the World Series victory with the San Francisco Giants in 2010.

“I told the guys before the game that I wanted to match their passion,” said DeRosa, who once played for the Venezuelan professional team Leones del Caracas. “I played there. I was a part of it, coming out of the dugout and jumping around… When Trea clipped that ball, honestly, I saw about 35 guys, including the coaches, pass out and lose their minds for a minute. So it was just a great moment.”

David Bednar, the fifth of seven American pitchers, got the win and Ryan Pressly finished with three straight for the save.

Luis Arraez, playing in the ballpark he will soon call home with the Miami Marlins, had the first multihomer game of his professional career and drove in four runs for Venezuela.

Team USA boasts a roster of big names that many have chosen to repeat as WBC champions.

All nine batters in the US starting batting order were All-Stars, including Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout, Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and third baseman Nolan Arenado.

The United States is among the top six in the tournament in batting average (.296), RBI (34) and hits (48), and every American starter had a hit against Venezuela, which went 4-0 in group play.

“Unfortunately, this is baseball,” Venezuela manager Omar Lopez said. “We have to accept it and as men we have to keep our heads up. It’s not easy, especially when they’re back in the game.”

Venezuela took a 6-5 lead in the fifth after Ronald Acuña Jr.

Salvador Perez drove in the tying run with a line drive double that snuck just inside the left field foul line.

Arraez hit a two-run homer to right field in the first off Lance Lynn, his first home run in his new home park, and added another to high right on a foul ball in the seventh against Bednar to give Venezuela a two-run lead. Arraez, the reigning AL champion, was traded to the WBC host Miami Marlins this offseason after four seasons in Minnesota.

Bard replaced Lynn with a 5-2 lead in the fifth and loaded the bases with two walks, an infield hit and a pitch that injured Altuve.

Bard was pulled after Gleyber Torres scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-3, and Arraez hit an RBI home run off Jason Adam.

USA hit five straight singles to start the game. Betts led off the first with an infield single, then the speedster ran from first to third on Trout’s single to center, scoring when he forced a throwing error by Acuna.

Kyle Tucker homered for the US in the fifth off Astros teammate Luis Garcia.


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