The United States gets the luxury of not playing in the World Baseball Classic right away (is it really a luxury?). While most other teams had a game or two under their belts, the U.S. played their first game Friday night against Mexico. With the reigning National League Cy Young award winner on the mound, what could go wrong?
How about four runs in four innings of work? Things did not go according to plan for R.A. Dickey. He gave up two runs in the first and a two-run home run in the top of the third. Dickey was clearly off his game, but he tried to fight through it. He pitched four innings, gave up six hits, and allowed four runs. Mexico had his number.
Mexico's first two runs came off an Adrian Gonzalez single and a Luis Cruz sac fly. Adrian Gonzalez was clearly locked in. He blasted a two-run homer to one of the deeper parts of the ballpark in the third inning.
On the mound for Mexico was Yovani Gallardo. The Milwaukee Brewers' pitcher fared much better. With a surprisingly stacked team to back him up, Gallardo pitched 3 1/3 innings. Mexico had no qualms in pulling him early when Gallardo got into a jam in the fourth. They treated the game like an elimination game. Gallardo finished with four strikeouts while giving up just two hits and one run.
The United States scored their first run in the bottom of the fourth inning when David Wright slapped an opposite field single to score Jimmy Rollins. That's all Team USA would get in the fourth, though. They squandered an opportunity to push more runs across, and then they turned around and gave that run back.
In the top of the fifth, Mexico's Eduardo Arredondo doubled for his third hit of the night. He was bunted over to third base. A sac-fly by Ramiro Pena pushed Arredondo across to give Mexico a 5-1 lead.
The United States tried to mount rallies. They got runners on board in four consecutive innings without pushing a run across the plate. No one could come through with the big hit, and Mexico was not afraid to use its bullpen to keep Team USA uncomfortable. In fact, Mexico was LaRussaian with their usage of the 'pen.
The U.S. inched closer in the bottom of the eighth when they scored on run, but the comeback wasn't to be. Despite being stacked with seemingly unending talent, the United States struggled to string together rallies. Mexico took the contest