The goal was to “pop bottles,” and did they ever.
Marlins stars Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton have conquered the World.
The United States beat Puerto Rico 8-0 late Wednesday night to capture the nation’s first World Baseball Classic title in Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium.
Yelich, whose national start has soared during this title run, went 2 for 5 with a double, an RBI and a run scored batting in the No. 3 spot. Stanton also collected two hits as USA’s designated hitter.
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The game’s star? Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman, a 25-year-old righty who hurled six scoreless innings, allowing a lone hit. He was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Stroman was so effective, he allowed just three balls past the infield until Angel Pagan's double in the left-field corner leading off the seventh, when he departed to a standing ovation, having staked the Americans to a 7-0 lead with the help of Ian Kinsler's two-run homer.
For a sport known as America's pastime, the U.S. had struggled since the WBC began in 2006. Twice, the Americans lost in the second round and they went out in the semifinals in 2009.
This time was different.
"These guys were here to do their best," Team USA general manager Joe Torre said. "The thing I marveled at was how quickly they came together, and Jimmy (Leyland) deserves a lot of that credit. They're just a great group who understood what this event is all about."
The U.S. pounded out 13 hits and finished with a 6-2 record.
OK, now that the boring stuff is out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff.
After the final out, the Americans massed on the mound, hugging and high-fiving while fireworks exploded in center field. Some of them grabbed a U.S. flag and circled the warning track, waving it in celebration with fans in the stands.
Jim Leyland, the ex-Marlins skipper who managed Team USA to a title? He got choked up.
The confetti? It flew.
The champagne? It flowed.
He was everywhere.
“Pop bottles for America, that was our goal,” said Yelich, the left fielder who batted .310 during the tournament. “This is the most fun I’ve ever had playing baseball.”
On Twitter, he added:
“USA that was for you!!! We brought it home! Couldn't have done with a better group of guys!!”
This is the first clubhouse celebration for both Yelich and Stanton; neither has even made the playoffs in Miami. In fact,
They’ll try to change that this year; both will report to spring training this ahead of the Marlins’ April 3 opener against the Nationals.
This report was supplemented by material provided by Miami Herald wire services.