David Wright's 5 RBIs lead USA to WBC win over Puerto Rico
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MIAMI -- After Jose Reyes electrified the Dominican Republic with his hyper-caffeinated antics in Tuesday's win over Italy, David Wright got his turn Tuesday night against Puerto Rico.
Reyes spent the afternoon leaping around, waving his arms and shouting to anyone who would listen, whether in the stands or his own dugout. For Wright, always the stoic one to the bubbly Reyes in Flushing, the celebration was considerably more subdued.
When Wright slapped a run-scoring single into rightfield in the fifth inning, he took a wide turn around first base, stretched his arms wide and allowed himself one giant clap. That was it. Back to business.
Behind Wright's five RBIs, Team USA took care of Puerto Rico, 7-1, at Marlins Park and is one win from advancing to the semifinals next week in San Francisco. Before then, it's the D.R. Thursday, when R.A. Dickey will make his second WBC start for the Americans.
Wright added a bases-clearing double in the eighth and has 10 RBIs in four games. He's tied with Ken Griffey Jr. and Korea's Seung Yeop Lee (both in 2006) for most RBIs in a WBC tournament.
"Obviously, the adrenaline gets pumping for this tournament,'' Wright said. "You wear that uniform, you want to represent your country. And I'm not lying when I say that hitting in this lineup is ridiculous, you got some of the best hitters in the game, it creates a lot of matchup problems. Thanks to Mr. Torre for putting me in between those two lefties ."
Wright hit a grand slam in Saturday's win over Italy and came to the plate three times Tuesday night with the bases loaded. In the third, he gave the U.S. team a 2-0 lead when he grounded into a fielder's choice. His fifth-inning single made it 3-0.
Gio Gonzalez pitched five scoreless innings, striking out five, and allowed only three hits, including a long double by Carlos Beltran in the fourth. Angel Pagan drove in Puerto Rico's run with a grounder in the eighth.
Compared with the Dominicans' partying earlier in the day, the U.S. team enjoyed a relatively low-key victory before a crowd of 32,872 that sounded split down the middle. With the Americans resisting the level of on-field emotion of some of the other entries, their feelings about the tournament remain a topic of conversation.
Just because the Dominican Republic empties the dugout after every run or Italy blows kisses to each other, the conventional wisdom says the U.S. squad as a whole is indifferent to the WBC. So it keeps getting asked about it.
"I feel pretty good about our enthusiasm," Joe Torre said before the game.
Yawn. On a scale of 1 to 10, with the Dominicans earning a 10 for their on-field zaniness, Torre's crew rates a 2. But that's how baseball is supposed to be played -- in a less in-your-face manner. The U.S. team has not diverted much from that operating manual, and the Dominican players behaved during their 5-4 win as if they were trying to infuriate the Italians.
In the sixth, Robinson Cano stood and watched his long home run off the facade of the rightfield upper deck. Then he walked for a few steps. Then he jogged. Then he picked up the pace to a light run. And when Cano finally scored, the Dominicans did everything but pop champagne for his arrival.
"It's a different style the way we play here than we play in New York," Cano said. "Nobody sees you trying to show somebody up. It's more about the chemistry on the team. We're all excited to be here and we've all got one mission: to win."
And what about the Americans? Are they just more tailored to the personality of someone like Wright, who has set the tone? Maybe if Italy gets eliminated, they can borrow the blowing-kisses concept.
"Don't mistake lack of running on the field for us as not being fully invested," Dickey said. "It's just a different way to play sometimes. That's all."