It’s only March, his new team doesn’t start play for two weeks, and it’s already been a big season for Trea Turner.
It began of course last December when Turner signed an 11-year, $300 million deal with the Phillies. However, the eighth-inning grand slam Turner hit Saturday night in Miami probably tops even that. It boosted Team USA to a 9-7 victory over Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic quarterfinals.
World Baseball Classic: United States 9, Venezuela 7
Team USA trailed 7-5 when Turner took Silvino Bracho, a Reds minor leaguer, deep. Bracho had just come on in relief after Angels reliever Jose Quijada loaded the bases on a walk, a Kyle Schwarber hit, and a hit batter.
That home run capped a wild evening of offense that saw the U.S. score three times before anybody was retired, gradually build a 5-2 advantage, then blow it all in an orgy of wildness by reliever Daniel Bard.
It was a great night for hitters and an awful one for pitchers. All nine position player starters on both sides reached base at least once, 16 of the 18 on hits. There were 23 of those hits in all, of which Turner’s was the fourth to leave the playing surface.
Venezuela’s Luis Arraez homered in the fifth and again in the seventh.
The only place that wasn’t safe was on the mound. Of the 14 pitchers (seven for each team) who worked Saturday, seven gave up at least one run. Alone among the 14, Venezuela’s Jose Ruiz lasted more than one clean inning.
The stage was set early. Facing Venezuela starter Martin Perez, Mookie Betts led off with a shot up the middle that handcuffed Jose Altuve. Mike Trout singled to center, taking third and Betts scoring on center fielder Ronald Acuña Jr.’s throwing error. Paul Goldschmidt sent Trout across with a hit to right, Nolan Arenado singled, and Kyle Tucker scored Goldschmidt on a line drive to center.
The Venezuelans, undefeated to that moment, also wasted no time denting USA starter Lance Lynn. Altuve led off with a hit, and Arraez powered a home run into the right field seats to make it 3-2.
It was a 5-2 game when Team USA manager Mark DeRosa went to Bard to replace Lynn at the start of the fifth. Bard was a disaster, and almost a fatal one. His misadventures began with a walk to Gleyber Torres, a wild pitch and a hit by Andres Gimenez. The next batter was Altuve, who Bard drilled on the hand, knocking him out of the game and possibly worse for the start of the season for the Houston Astros. The preliminary diagnosis was a possible broken thumb.
Bard was scarred emotionally, almost as bad as Altuve was physically. He wild pitched a run across, then walked Anthony Santander on four pitches, none of them close, loading the bases with none out.
That was more than enough for DeRosa, who brought Jason Adam to rescue Bard. But an infield out got a second run home, and Salvador Perez crashed a line drive down the line in left, tying the game. Acuña’s sacrifice fly gave Venezuela the lead, and Arraez’s second home run in the seventh inning boosted that lead to 7-5.
On his sixth and seventh tries, DeRosa finally found somebody in the bullpen who could survive the night. Devin Williams surrendered a leadoff double to Acuña in the eighth, then retired the side in order, striking out David Peralta and Eugenio Suarez. In the ninth, Ryan Pressly set down Gimenez, Eduardo Escobar and Santander without incident, providing a placid finish to a frenetic evening.
The victory moves the U.S. into Sunday night’s semifinal game against Cuba. The other semifinal, scheduled for Monday, will pit Japan against Mexico. The championship will be decided Tuesday.