SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Forget the final score, manager Joe Torre saw much to like in Team USA’s final tuneup for the World Baseball Classic.
Start with 18 hits, including a four-hit performance by Brandon Phillips. Then there were four shutout innings by four relief pitchers, who gave up a combined one hit.
Sure, the U.S. squad lost to Colorado 8-7 Wednesday night but only because of two Rockies minor league pitchers borrowed to finish up the game allowed six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
“We got what we wanted, really,” Torre said. “I thought they all pitched the well, and we swung the bats really well (Wednesday night). The spirit is good. We’ll have a good workout tomorrow and then get ready for the real action.”
Phillips had a double and an RBI single and said the team is highly motivated for the WBC.
“We’ve got to get the fans into it. We’re going to need their support,” the Reds star second baseman said. “Because you know all the other countries they have nothing but support. We need the USA to back us up. We feed off them.”
The United States begins WBC play Friday night against Mexico at Chase Field in Phoenix. Both previous Classics were won by Japan. The farthest the United States has gone is the semifinals in 2009.
“When it comes to the WBC, I feel like I lot of guys worked out very hard this offseason trying to get ready for it,” Phillips said. “Because nobody wants to look crazy and look like they’re not ready on TV. Especially me – I want to be looking good on TV.”
David Wright singled twice, drove in a run and made a spectacular play at third base for the U.S. team.
“We struggled a little bit offensively against the White Sox (on Tuesday),” Wright said. “But it was a good day (Wednesday). It seemed like every inning we were hitting with runners in scoring position. I think three out of my four at-bats I had runners in scoring position, and that’s a good sign.”
Jonathan Lucroy had a two-run double after first baseman Tyler Colvin’s throwing error in the fifth. Adam Jones doubled and singled twice for the U.S. team.
“It definitely felt different out there,” Colorado starter Drew Pomeranz said. “More like a real start. There was an energy on the field. It was pretty fun.
“It’s a tough lineup to face, just about as tough as there is,” he said. “Of course they’re going to be tough. Look at the names on that roster.”
After stranding two runners in each of the first two innings, the U.S. broke through in the third when Phillips led off with a double and scored on Wright’s two-out single.
The U.S. squad, which tied the White Sox 4-all in its other exhibition game Tuesday, added a run in the fourth on Phillips’ RBI single.
After Wright’s one-out single in the fifth, Colvin fielded Eric Hosmer’s sharp bouncer but threw wildly past second, leaving runners at first and third. Jones brought one home with a single, then two more crossed when Lucroy doubled down the left-field line.
David Hernandez, Vinnie Pestano, Jeremy Affeldt and Craig Kimbrel each pitched an inning for Team USA. The only hit off them was Yorvit Torrealba’s single off Affeldt in the third.
Wright made an excellent diving stop down the line of Torrealba’s sharp grounder, then threw him out.
Hosmer, the Kansas City first baseman who just joined the U.S. team Wednesday to replace the injured Mark Teixeira, misplayed a grounder that allowed a run to score in the seventh.