MIAMI — With a berth in the World Baseball Classic semifinals on the line, Venezuela and the United States put on quite a show Saturday night. And in the top of the eighth inning, the Phillies’ Trea Turner stole it.
With the bases loaded and none out, Turner fell behind 0-and-2 against Silvino Bracho — and promptly lined a 407-foot grand slam into the leftfield seats to give the United States a 9-7 win.
The United States will face Cuba on Sunday night for a spot in the WBC final against Japan or Mexico. Cardinals righthander Adam Wainwright will start for the U.S.
Trailing 7-5, the United States loaded the bases in the eighth on a walk, single and hit by pitch against Jose Quijada. Turner then blasted Bracho’s third pitch for Team USA’s third grand slam in WBC play.
“Individually, I think this is probably the biggest hit that I’ve had . . . probably right up there with any hit I’ve ever had,” Turner said.
U.S. manager Mark DeRosa said Saturday‘s win was one of the three greatest games he‘s ever been a part of — including winning the World Series with the Giants in 2010.
“I told the guys before the game, I wanted to match their passion,” said DeRosa, who once played for the Venezuelan professional team Leones del Caracas. “I had played over there. I had been a part of that, coming out of the dugout and jumping around . . . When Trea clipped that ball, honestly, I saw about 35 guys, including the coaches, kind of black out and lose their minds for a minute. So it was just an awesome moment.”
Venezuela had gone 4-0 in pool play. “Unfortunately, this is baseball,” manager Omar Lopez said. “We have to accept this and as men we have to keep our heads up. It is not easy, especially when they came back in the game.”
Luis Arraez, playing in the ballpark that he’ll soon call home with the Marlins, had the first multihomer game of his professional career and drove in four runs for Venezuela.
Arraez hit a two-run drive to rightfield in the first off Lance Lynn and added a solo shot high off the rightfield foul pole in the seventh against David Bednar to give Venezuela a 7-5 lead.
Salvador Perez had a tying RBI double and Ronald Acuna Jr. added a sacrifice fly as Venezuela scored four runs in the fifth to go up 6-5.
Venezuela second baseman and Astros star Jose Altuve left the game in the fifth with a possible broken right thumb after he was hit by a pitch from Daniel Bard.