Photo Credit: Patrick Breen/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK
PHOENIX — Mexico and the U.S., the two teams with by far the most fan support at Chase Field, will meet Sunday night in the second day of Pool C play in the World Baseball Classic.
U.S. manager Mark DeRosa, who played in the playoffs as a utility player for the Atlanta Braves from 2001-03, compared the scene at Chase Field for Saturday’s 6-2 win over Great Britain to that of a playoff atmosphere.
He expects the same against Mexico.
“I don’t think it’s much different than that,” he said of the WBC resembling the MLB playoffs. “Obviously, with the lineup we possess, it’s a little easier to relax because the bottom of our order can hurt you just as quickly as the top.
“Right out of the gate, if you’re not feeling a little bit of butterflies, you’re in the wrong spot.”
Indicative of the depth of the U.S. lineup, seven of the batters had at least one hit against Great Britain.
Nolan Arenado was the lone player with multiple hits, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs.
Mexico sustained a 5-4 loss to Colombia in 10 innings despite having what amounted to home-field advantage with its large fan support.
Jorge Alfaro scored from third base on a two-out fielding error by shortstop Luis Urias for the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th.
Urias could not field a ground ball hit to him by Gustavo Campero. Alfaro started the inning at second base per international extra-inning rules and reached third base on a fly out to right field by Elias Diaz.
“I think if ‘Wicho’ (Urias) gets that ball hit to him 99 times out of 100, he makes that play,” Mexico manager Benjamin Gil said.
Mexico had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth with two runners on, but Guillermo Zuniga struck out Alex Verdugo on three straight fastballs clocked at 101, 100, and 102 mph.
Zuniga retired Mexico in the 10th, sending Mexico to its fifth consecutive opening-game loss of a World Baseball Classic — an occurrence in all five tournaments.
Randy Arozarena hit a two-run home run, and Verdugo had an RBI single for Mexico.
Julio Urias retired Colombia’s first 12 batters before allowing three runs in the fifth, including a two-run home run to 36-year-old journeyman Reynaldo Rodriguez.
“We can’t do anything but move forward,” Arozarena said.
Left-hander Patrick Sandoval is slated to start for Mexico on Sunday. Right-hander Nick Martinez will reportedly get the start for the U.S.
–By Javier Morales, Field Level Media