Team USA Begins WBC Title Defense With 6-2 Victory Over Great Britain

Arenado's three-hit day, Schwarber’s three-run blast lift U.S. to victory
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Great Britain 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 8 2
USA 0 0 2 3 0 1 0 0 X 6 9 0


PHOENIX, Ariz.Nolan Arenado had three hits and Kyle Schwarber delivered a clutch three-run homer to lift Team USA to a 6-2 win over Great Britain in the first game of its World Baseball Classic title defense on Saturday night at Chase Field.

The win is the first of manager Mark DeRosa’s coaching career and puts the U.S. atop the Pool C standings alongside Colombia at 1-0.

Despite the final score, Great Britain put early pressure on Team USA early after getting the scoring started on Saturday. With one out in the top of the first, Trayce Thompson hit a solo home run to give the British a 1-0 lead. Great Britain continued to put runners on base in the following two frames, but U.S. starter Adam Wainwright was able to dance around trouble in the second and third to keep Team USA within a run.

As Wainwright kept the British offense in check, the U.S. offense put runners on base in both the first and second innings but couldn’t capitalize. AnArenado single sandwiched between a pair of walks loaded the bases with two outs for Team USA in the opening frame, but Great Britain starter Vance Worley induced an inning-ending groundout to escape the threat. J.T. Realmuto then doubled in the second and reached third base on a groundout, but Worley got Mookie Betts to pop out to keep the British in front by a run heading into the third.

The stars and stripes got back to work in the third inning, and Worley could not keep them off the scoreboard this time. After Paul Goldschmidt reached on an error with one out in the frame, fellow St. Louis Cardinals teammate Arenado drove him home with an RBI-double down the left-field line. Then, with two outs and runners on the corners, Kyle Tucker lined an RBI-single up the middle to plate Arenado and give Team USA a 2-1 advantage.

The U.S. offense kept its foot on the gas in the bottom of the inning, putting a pair on via a walk and hit-by-pitch and bringing Schwarber to the plate. Then, he delivered the biggest swing of the night, belting a three-run homer over the right-field wall to put Team USA in front, 5-1. Schwarber’s blast was the first homer for Team USA in a World Baseball Classic opening game since 2009, when Adam Dunn, Brian McCann, and Kevin Youkilis all went yard against Canada.

The U.S. pitchers continued to post zeroes on defense, and the bats stayed hot in the bottom of the sixth, and, again, it was Arenado and Goldschmidt in the middle of the action. Goldschmidt snuck a leadoff single through the left side and came around to score just two pitches later when Arenado roped another double down the left-field line to put the stars and stripes up 6-1.

Wainwright (1-0) earned the win after pitching four innings of one-run ball, finishing with four strikeouts. He turned it over to the bullpen in the fifth, and the relievers combined to pitch five innings, giving up a single run in the top of the seventh. Jason Adam was the first pitcher out of the U.S. pen, tossing a perfect fifth before Kyle Freeland took over in the sixth. The southpaw punched out three batters in his three innings of work, giving up a run on an RBI-groundout in the seventh.

David Bednar entered in the ninth and was dominant, working around an infield single and striking out three to secure the opening game victory.

The U.S. offense tallied nine hits in the win, with seven different players picking up at least one knock. Arenado (3-for-5, 2 RBIs) finished the night with three hits, becoming the first U.S. player with three hits in a World Baseball Classic game since Ben Zobrist did it against Canada in 2013. Goldschmidt reached base four times, going 1-for-3 with a walk, a hit-by-pitch, and reaching on an error.

Nick Martinez will take the mound for Team USA (1-0) on Sunday against Mexico as it looks to improve to 2-0 in Pool C. First pitch is set for 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m MT at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. The game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1.