Venezuelan manager Luis Sojo must have known it would end like this. He must have realized that he has only three All-Star-quality pitchers on his staff. He must have known that American bats would not be quiet for long.
Yesterday in Toronto, Team USA guaranteed that they will play in the next round of the WBC with an awesome display of offense. A huge sixth inning broke the game open for the US, proving that once they got past starter Armando Galarraga, no one in the Venezuelan bullpen could shut them down.
While Venezuela had 13 hits of their own—center fielder Gregor Blanco and second baseman Jose Lopez each had three—the US made the most of their 16 hits and three home runs (Kevin Youkilis, Adam Dunn, and Ryan Braun).
Both teams used seven pitchers in this game. Whereas each of the American pitchers has an important role on his MLB team, only Galarraga can say that for the Venezuelans.
To be sure, the US pitchers show some spring rust at this point. Starter Roy Oswalt at times was sharp but tired quickly. Of the six relievers used by manager Davey Johnson, only Florida closer Matt Lindstrom dominated. But all of them battled and managed to contain Venezuela.
The American batters are relentless, working the count and wearing down the opposition. Unless the pitching falls apart, expect more lopsided US wins in this tourney.
Venezuela next plays Tuesday night and must defeat the winner of the game between Canada and Italy. Team USA can rest up until Wednesday’s game against the winner of Venezuela’s matchup, knowing they are already Miami-bound for the next round.