In order to advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic in Miami, Team USA absolutely had to win Saturday night's game with Italy at Chase Field in Phoenix. David Wright put the American team in a position to control their own destiny with a fifth inning grand slam in a 6-2 win.
Italy pushed a run across in each of the first two innings, and Team USA waited until the fourth inning until Joe Mauer put them on the board with an RBI-double. Brandon Phillips added an RBI-single in the fifth, setting the table for Wright's slam to left-center off Italian reliever Matt Torra.
"I think all of us take a lot of pride in putting this uniform on and we want to represent the country well," Wright said on mlb.com. "So any time we play a clean, crisp game like we played today, it's good for USA baseball and obviously it's good for our fans and good for the country. So I'm glad I could be a part of that."
Ryan Vogelsong was credited with the win, giving up both of Italy's runs in his four-plus innings. Ross Detwiler shut out Italy and allowed just one hit over the final four innings, earning a save for Team USA.
The victory sets up a win-and-in game with Canada, who defeated Mexico despite an ugly brawl in the ninth inning of Saturday's contest. Mexico was eliminated with the loss, meaning there won't be any convoluted three-way tiebreaker possibilities.
"I like the fact that we went into tonight's game knowing that we controlled our destiny," Team USA manager Joe Torre said. "This way, if you win it, you earn it; if you don't, you don't earn it. But at least the Canadian win today was certainly a huge thing for me. And I just felt that you don't have to be checking numbers or anything like that."
Derek Holland will start on the mound for Team USA in a 4 p.m. start at Chase Field. The winner will join the Domincan Republic and Puerto Rico at Marlins Stadium for the second round.Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, David Wright, MLB, World Baseball Classic