In 2013, Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman tweeted his desire to represent his mother for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. On Wednesday, he shut the team down with a United States insignia across his chest in the event's championship game at Dodger Stadium.
Stroman took a no-hitter into the seventh and led the United States to an 8-0 victory over previously undefeated Puerto Rico to clinch its first WBC championship. The Blue Jays righty allowed one hit and one walk in six innings of work.
As for Puerto Rico, Wednesday's loss marked its second straight runner-up finish at the event following its 2013 defeat to the Dominican Republic in the championship game.
Its powerful lineup featuring Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Yadier Molina and Javier Baez never had a chance against Stroman. While Stroman didn't blow them away with strikeouts (three), he consistently induced harmless rollers and continued a pattern for American starters, as ESPN Stats & Info noted:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Starting pitchers for Team USA combined for a 1.25 ERA with 0 HR allowed, 29 strikeouts and four walks in 2017 #WBC tournament. https://t.co/MSEYJaq6Pq3/23/2017, 4:39:28 AM
Stroman owned the stage, as the World Baseball Classic shared:
WBC Baseball @WBCBaseball
When the world is yours. #WBC2017 https://t.co/xiaHXHIMuk3/23/2017, 3:07:15 AM
Stroman stole headlines from Ian Kinsler, who said before the contest, "I hope kids watching the WBC can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays," per Billy Witz of the New York Times.
Kinsler also turned heads on the field in the third inning when he drilled a two-run homer off Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo to open the scoring.
Will Brinson of CBS Sports had some celebratory tips for the Detroit Tigers second baseman:
Will Brinson @WillBrinson
Kinsler should have done 36 cartwheels around bases and followed it up with a three-pump McCringleberry at home plate. Old school. Classy.3/23/2017, 2:18:36 AM
The early run support was more than enough with Stroman dealing. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports said, "This is Marcus Stroman at his absolute best, and not just because of his six no-hit innings. Soft-contact ground balls are bread and butter."
Joe Sheehan of Sports Illustrated indicated Stroman's outing was a sign of things to come:
Joe Sheehan @joe_sheehan
I'm enjoying the start of the Marcus Stroman Era.3/23/2017, 2:41:55 AM
Stroman was much more effective than his counterpart, who lost control of the game in the fifth by allowing a single to Kinsler, walk to Adam Jones and RBI single to Christian Yelich. Andrew McCutchen's RBI single off reliever Joe Jimenez made it 4-0, and Lugo was officially credited with four earned runs in four innings.
The Americans broke things open in the seventh when Brandon Crawford singled off J.C. Romero with the bases loaded, driving in Nolan Arenado and Eric Hosmer. They didn't stop there, as Giancarlo Stanton knocked in McCutchen to make it 7-0.
Crawford's timely hit caught the attention of Chris Emma of 670 The Score:
Chris Emma @CEmma670
Brandon Crawford is a complete player. Such a solid pro at the plate and stellar with the glove. Just a joy to watch.3/23/2017, 3:46:43 AM
The only remaining drama was how long Stroman would extend his no-hitter, and Angel Pagan ended it with a double to start the bottom of the seventh. Fortunately for Stroman, reliever Sam Dyson preserved his shutout with two strikeouts and a groundout.
Dyson set the stage for the rest of the bullpen, and Pat Neshek threw a scoreless eighth before David Robertson finished the win in the ninth.
MLB shared the team's celebration:
The eagle has landed. https://t.co/Ul3LksP1pp #WBC2017 https://t.co/Ecfrq3cB8g3/23/2017, 5:13:47 AM
The WBC noted Stroman was named the MVP of the tournament after his gem.
Yelich discussed the entire experience, per MLB Network:
MLB Network @MLBNetwork
"It's the most fun I've ever had playing baseball." - @ChristianYelich on his #WBC2017 https://t.co/LwqZdtmtKk3/23/2017, 5:34:07 AM
Manager Jim Leyland talked about the win, per MLB Network PR: "I got a chance to manage for my country, the coaches got a chance to coach for our country, the players got a chance to play for our country. But you know what? This is for the people who serve for our country."