David Wright continues to be the punisher in the potent Team USA lineup.
The New York Mets third baseman drove in five runs to provide starter Gio Gonzalez plenty of run support that he didn't need as Team USA defeated Puerto Rico, 7-1 in the second round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic on Tuesday in Miami.
The Americans got on the board first in the bottom of the first inning. After 2011 National League MVP Ryan Braun walked with two outs, catcher Joe Mauer doubled to center field to drive him home.
USA tacked on another in the third inning. After second baseman Brandon Phillips singled, Braun singled and Mauer walked, third baseman David Wright grounded into a fielder's choice to score Phillips.
The Americans expanded the lead in the fifth. Jimmy Rollins led things off with a single to right field. He advanced to second after a bunt by Phillips. After Braun struck out and Mauer walked (again), Wright singled Rollins home with a line drive to right field. USA had the lead, 3-0.
San Francisco Giants left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt replaced USA left-hander Gio Gonzalez in the sixth inning. He pitched a scoreless sixth.
Cleveland Indians right-handed relief pitcher Vinnie Pestano faced four batters in the seventh—only giving up a single to Indians teammate Mike Aviles—en route to a scoreless inning.
The Americans struck again in the bottom of the seventh. After young first baseman Eric Hosmer singled with two outs and stole second base, outfielder Adam Jones singled him home with a ground ball up the middle.
It was 4-0 USA.
The Puerto Ricans showed some life in the eighth inning. After pinch-hitter Jesus Feliciano was hit by a pitch to start the inning, left fielder Eddie Rosario doubled him to third. Center fielder Angel Pagan's groundout scored Feliciano.
The Americans came back with a vengeance in the bottom of the eighth. With the bases loaded, Wright doubled to score three runs and put the game out of reach.
Gonzalez pitched five innings of scoreless ball, allowing three hits and striking out five. It was the Washington Nationals starter's first action in the 2013 WBC. Puerto Rico right-hander Mario Santiago was touched for three runs in 4.1 innings, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out three.
Atlanta Braves right-hander Craig Kimbrel finished off the game for the Americans, getting Aviles to ground into a double play.
USA joins the Dominican Republic at 1-0 in Pool 2. That matchup is scheduled for Thursday at 7 ET in Miami.
Grades for Puerto Rico
Mario Santiago, SP: D+
Mario Santiago's first outing of the WBC did not go well.
While the right-hander wasn't exactly torched by the Americans, he was charged with runs in the first, third and fifth innings, ending up with a 6.23 ERA for the day.
USA had scored 17 runs in three WBC games coming into Tuesday's contest (including nine against Canada in the first round), so it could have been worse. Still, it wasn't that good, either.
Angel Pagan, CF: B
Angel Pagan not only drove home Puerto Rico's only run, he also added a stolen base. The San Francisco Giants outfielder went 1-for-4 for the day, albeit in a losing effort. Headed into the contest, Pagan was hitting .455 in 11 at-bats (one RBI, one run, one stolen base).
Alex Rios, RF: F
As Puerto Rico's No. 3 hitter, Chicago White Sox outfielder Alex Rios simply didn't come to play on Tuesday. The right-hander went 0-for-4 while leaving three runners on base. He also committed an error in the sixth inning.
Grades for USA
Gio Gonzalez, SP: A
You can't ask for much more than five scoreless innings.
Gio Gonzalez stepped up big for the Americans on Tuesday, allowing just three hits (one double) while recording five strikeouts.
It was the left-hander's first WBC action, and he didn't disappoint. It's not exactly surprising, given that he posted a 21-8 record with a 2.89 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 207 strikeouts in 199.1 innings with the Washington Nationals in 2012.
Joe Mauer: B+
Joe Mauer not only went 1-for-2 with one RBI, one run and three walks on Tuesday, he also led the USA pitching staff to a strong showing against Puerto Rico.
The talented catcher may not have lit up the box score, but he was important on offense and defense for the Americans. The five-time All-Star and 2009 American League MVP was a steadying influence for USA.
David Wright: A
David Wright went 2-for-5 on Tuesday, driving in five of USA's seven runs in the ballgame. He blew the game open in the eighth inning, doubling with the bases loaded to clear the bases.
Wright was hitting .455 with one home run, five RBI and four runs before Tuesday's game.