There's been a lot of complaining in the media about how the best American pitchers weren't playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Gio Gonzalez would beg to disagree. After his dominating performance Monday night in a 7-1 victory for Team USA over Puerto Rico, the 2012 MLB wins leader certainly looked like one of the best the US has to offer.
In the first inning, Puerto Rico starter Mario Santiago walked Ryan Braun with two out. The next batter, Joe Mauer, doubled him home for an early 1-0 US lead. Later, Team USA tacked on single runs on a ground out by David Wright in the third and a base-loaded single by Wright in the fifth.
Any lead looked insurmoutable while Gonzalez was on the mound. He was in command the whole time he was out there, giving up only three hits over five shutout innings. Gonzalez struck out five and walked no one.
Puerto Rico didn't fare much better after Gonzalez left as relievers Jeremy Affeldt and Vinnie Pestano both pitched scoreless innings, allowing one single apiece.
Team USA added on an insurance run in the seventh when Eric Hosmer singled with two outs, stole second base and scored on an Adam Jones single.
Puerto Rico got their only rally going in the top of the eighth. Steve Cishek hit the only batter he faced to lead off the inning. He exited for David Hernandez, who gave up a double to second baseman Eddie Rosario to put two on with no outs and Angel Pagan as the tying run at the plate. One run scored on a Pagan ground out, but Hernandez got out of the jam by striking out Irving Falu and getting Alex Rios to pop out.
The United States put the game out of reach when Wright hit a bases-loaded three-run double in the bottom of the eighth.
One point of worry for Team USA is that the game wasn't as close as the lopsided final score indicated. Team USA was 3 for 15 with runners in scoring position and they left twelve men on base.
Gonzalez took the win for the US and Santiago took the loss, giving up three runs on five hits over 4.1 innings. Santiago walked two and struck out three.
Wright kept his name in the mix along with Robinson Cano and Shinnosuke Abe for tournament MVP. Wright was 2 for 5 with a double and five RBI. Rollins was 2 for 5 and Ryan Braun went 2 for 4 with a walk. Joe Mauer was 1 for 2 with a double and three walks.
With the win, the United States will play the Dominican Republic on Thursday with the winner clinching a berth in the finals in San Francisco. Puerto Rico takes on Italy tonight at 6 p.m. Central. All games are on the MLB Network.
Please use this post as a game thread for the Puerto Rico/Italy game.