Saturday, March 8, 2014
By JOHN MARSHALL, The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
United States' R.A. Dickey sits in the dugout in the fourth inning during a World Baseball Classic baseball game against Mexico on Friday in Phoenix. Mexico defeated the United States 5-2.
Hoping to get the tournament off to a good start, Torre handed the ball to Dickey, the first knuckleballer to win a Cy Young Award.
While many of the big-name pitchers back out of playing in the WBC, Dickey was an enthusiastic participant, in part because he was on the 1996 U.S. Olympic team that earned a disappointing bronze.
His opening game in the WBC didn't go too well.
Mexico jumped on the his knuckleball right off, starting with Arredondo's reach-and-slap single to open the game. He came around to score on Cruz's sacrifice fly after a double by Ramiro Pena. Gonzalez made it 2-0 with a groundout to second, revving up the crowd.
Gonzalez brought fans to their feet in the third inning with a two-run homer to the deepest part of the park, a towering shot above the pool deck in right-center that was upheld by a video review.
Dickey was three pitches short of the WBC minimum 65 after four innings and didn't come back out. He allowed four runs and six hits.
"I wasn't as sharp," Dickey said. "I felt pretty good in the 'pen and threw some really good ones when I was out there, but consistently it was not as good as I hope for."
Mexico was in need of a lift after a disappointing opening game against Italy.
Leading 5-4 after eight innings, the Mexicans lost 6-5 after Romo, closer for the World Series champion San Francisco Giants, gave up a two-run double to Anthony Rizzo. Mexico had the bases loaded in the bottom half against Jason Grilli, but Jorge Cantu grounded out to end the game.
For their critical second game, Mexico turned to Gallardo, the Milwaukee Brewers' ace who won 16 games last season.
Unlike Dickey, he was sharp early, facing the minimum through three innings after Mauer singled in the second inning and was quickly erased on a double play.
Gallardo was done after a leadoff single by Rollins in the fourth inning and a one-out walk to Braun. Wright followed with a run-scoring single to right off Luis Mendoza to cut Mexico's lead to 4-1, but Eric Hosmer grounded out on a comebacker with runners at the corners to end the inning.
Gallardo allowed a run on two hits and struck out four.
Cruz put Mexico up 5-1 with a sacrifice fly off Glen Perkins in the fifth after Arredondo's third hit led off the inning.
Team USA had two on in the fifth and sixth innings and failed to get a run in, and Rollins was stranded at second in the seventh after a two-out double, their first extra-base hit of the night.
The U.S. finally came through in the eighth, when Hosmer blooped a single to center off Fernando Salas to score Braun and cut Mexico's lead to 5-2.
Romo bounced back from his rough outing against Italy, closing out Mexico's statement win with a perfect ninth that set off a huge roar inside Chase Field and sent the Mexican players charging off the bench.
"Those guys have the confidence in me and it hasn't ever wavered," a subdued Romo said. "I showed up from the get-go and it's some respect that I'd never really had before. There's no chance I was going to let anybody down."