If baseball fans thought Team USA, with its lineup of All-Star players, would roll through the 2023 World Baseball Classic, they got a dose of reality Sunday.
World Baseball Classic: Mexico 11, United States 5
Team Mexico gobsmacked the USA team 11-5 in Group C play in Phoenix before a capacity and largely pro-Mexico crowd at Chase Field. While the outcome does not undermine the Team USA effort to defend the championship it won in 2017, it does intensify the pressure to win its next two group games, against Canada on Monday and against Colombia on Wednesday.
A loss in either of those two games and the hopes of team USA would be severely compromised.
Joey Meneses, who plays for the Washington Nationals but is a native of Mexico, was basically a one-man wrecking ball against the USA’s hopes Sunday.
In the first inning, Team USA pitcher Nick Martinez got a fastball up to Meneses with Randy Arozarena on base. Meneses put it in the first row of the left field seats.
Then in the fourth, Meneses batted against Royals pitcher Brady Singer with Alex Verdugo and Arozarena on base. This fastball, which sailed up and in to Meneses, sailed up and out to the 10th row of those same left field seats, boosting Mexico’s lead to 7-1.
Team USA was never really in the game from that point on.
Meneses finished with three hits, three runs scored and those five RBI. Arozarena had three hits, three runs scored and two RBI. Mexico DH Rowdy Tellez also had three hits, limiting himself to two RBI.
A succession of eight Team USA pitchers allowed 15 hits to the Mexicans. Against that, the American sluggers looked like junior varsity guys scrimmaging the varsity. Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and Pete Alonso were a combined 2-for-18 with zero runs batted in.
Angels starter Patrick Sandoval and Cubs prospect Javier Assad were largely responsible for keeping the USA offense in check. They pitched a combined six innings, allowing just one run on three hits.
White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson kept the evening from being even more embarrassing. Anderson’s second-inning single drove in Kyle Tucker with the first USA run, and his eighth-inning double sent home Goldschmidt and Bobby Witt, although that hit only closed the USA within the final 11-5 margin.