Team USA score: Trea Turner's grand slam vs. Venezuela sends U.S. to World Baseball Classic semifinals

Team USA is two wins away from a second straight World Baseball Classic title after beating Venezuela, 9-7, in a thrilling back-and-forth quarterfinal Saturday night. USA won the WBC in 2017 and this is the second time the Americans have advanced out of the second round overall. They went home early in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

Saturday's game had something for everyone: extended rallies, long home runs, multiple lead changes, fantastic defense, clutch strikeouts, goofy errors, and managerial second guessing. USA and Venezuela traded body blows in the late innings, and the decisive blow was Trea Turner's eighth inning go-ahead grand slam.

Here are four takeaways from Saturday night's game, plus a look at what comes next.

1. Five runs in the first 

There was quite a bit of foreshadowing in the first inning. It was going to be one of those games. Team USA opened the game with five straight singles -- Martín Pérez recorded his only out when Kyle Tucker took second on a throw and overslid the bag -- to build a 3-0 lead. Venezuela answered right back with a two-run Luis Arraez homer in the bottom of the first. 

"I'm dreaming. Right now, I'm dreaming. Am I here? Am I here? Yes, I'm enjoying this a lot," Arraez told USA Today before the game.

Seven of the game's first 10 batters reached base, though Lance Lynn settled down and José Ruiz and Luis Garcia (the Astros one) restored order. Only one run was scored in the next three innings and that one run required two Jose Altuve misplays. He first was unable to handle a grounder, then he couldn't corral a throw at second to start a double play. USA converted that into a run.

2. Astro on Astro crime

A neat thing about the WBC is it often pits MLB teammates against each other. Saturday night, Tucker faced Garcia in a battle of Houston Astros. Twice they faced each other, in fact, and Tucker came out on top both times. He doubled in his first at-bat against Garcia, then wrapped a solo home run around the foul pole to give USA a 5-2 lead in the fifth.

Tucker went 3 for 5 against Venezuela and finished a triple short of the cycle. There has never been a cycle in the WBC. There have been mercy rule shortened no-hitters and perfect games, but never a cycle. The three hits tie USA's single-game record. Ken Griffey Jr. had a three-hit game back in 2006, and Jimmy Rollins had a three-hit game in 2009.

It must be noted that, aside from Tucker's dinger, Garcia was excellent. He threw three scoreless and hitless innings against the Dominican Republic in the first round and followed it up with four innings of two-run ball against USA. It would have been just one run allowed if not for the Altuve misplays.

3. DeRosa had too slow a hook

It has been a brutal WBC for Rockies closer Daniel Bard. He faced 15 batters in the first round and 10 reached base, then Saturday night he melted down spectacularly after entering the fifth inning with a 5-3 lead. Bard's inning went walk, infield single, wild pitch, hit batter, wild pitch, walk. Only seven of his 17 pitches were strikes.

A run scored on Bard's second wild pitch to cut USA's lead to 5-4. At that point USA manager Mark DeRosa mercifully removed Bard, and it was clearly a batter too late. It was obvious right away he didn't have it, yet Bard remained in long enough to uncork a second wild pitch and issue a second walk. Bard faced four batters and all four scored.

To be fair, Jason Adam was not much better after replacing Bard. He allowed the game-tying double to Salvador Perez and go-ahead sac fly to Ronald Acuña Jr. Tim Anderson made a stellar play on a hard-hit grounder to get an out at second base, otherwise the inning could have been a lot worse for the Americans.

USA opted for an inexperienced manager in DeRosa -- the entire coaching staff is inexperienced, really -- and that inexperience was evident Saturday. Adam did not begin to warm up until well into Bard's meltdown, and DeRosa had too slow a hook. There was a decided lack of urgency in USA's dugout during a critical moment in another elimination game.

Altuve, the batter Bard hit, exited the game holding his right hand, it should be noted. The pitch appeared to hit both of Altuve's hands, though he left the field favoring his right hand only. "You don't like it, but we don't have any word yet," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. The club will provide an update Sunday.

4. Turner came to the rescue

Last season Trea Turner authored a .298/.343/.466 batting line with 39 doubles, 21 home runs, and 27 stolen bases in 30 attempts. It earned him an 11-year, $300 million contract with the Phillies over the winter. Turner did that and yet he hit ninth for USA on Saturday. The lineup is that stacked. We saw it in the first inning and we saw it in the eighth inning.

With Venezuela holding a 7-5 lead -- Arraez hit his second homer of the game in the seventh inning -- USA loaded the bases with no outs against lefty José Quijada on a walk, a single, and two-strike hit by pitch. The Americans were down two runs but they were in business, and when Silvino Bracho hung a changeup, Turner did not miss it. Please enjoy the go-ahead grand slam:

Turner & Co. bailed out DeRosa -- players have a way of making the manager look smart, eh? -- and the bullpen made that 9-7 lead stand up. Devin Williams and Ryan Pressly, two of the five or six best relievers in the world, nailed things down in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively. Following Perez's game-tying double, 13 of the final 15 batters Venezuela sent to the plate made outs. 

5. Up next

The semifinals. Team USA lives to play another day and Venezuela is heading home. It's a quick turnaround too: USA will face Cuba on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET. The winner advances to the championship game on Tuesday.

Live updates

USA wins 9-7

Trea Turner's dramatic go-ahead grand slam is the decisive blow. The Americas will face Cuba in the semifinals on Sunday, and the winner of that game will advance to Tuesday's championship game. Venezuela is going home. What a thriller. The WBC is so much fun, isn't it?

March 19, 2023, 2:54 AM
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Eduardo Escobar strikes out. USA is an out away from the semifinals.

March 19, 2023, 2:51 AM

Giménez flies out to center for a quick first out.

March 19, 2023, 2:50 AM

To the bottom of the ninth. USA leading 9-7 and Pressly is coming in.

March 19, 2023, 2:46 AM

USA up 9-7 with three outs to go

Devin Williams pitches around the leadoff double -- he came back to strike out David Peralta after falling behind in the count 3-0, then struck out Eugenio Suárez got Gleyber Torres to line out -- to get through the eighth inning. Man is his changeup good. USA will take at least a two-run lead into the ninth inning. Expect to see Ryan Pressly on the mound, provided the offense doesn't blow the game open in the bottom of the eighth.

March 19, 2023, 2:36 AM

Acuña leads off the eighth with a loud double against Devin Williams. Odds the final score is 9-7? Not great, methinks.

March 19, 2023, 2:28 AM

Turner grand slam

And just like that, it's 9-7 USA. Trea Turner cranks a no-doubt grand slam to left field off Silvino Bracho in the top of the eighth. He's USA's No. 9 hitter, remember. The Americans are six out away from the semifinals.

March 19, 2023, 2:17 AM

USA threatening in the 8th

A walk and a Pete Alonso pinch-hit single put two on with no outs for USA. Realmuto, Turner, Betts, and Trout are coming up.

March 19, 2023, 2:09 AM

Venezuela now up 7-5

Two home runs for Luis Arraez? Two home runs for Luis Arraez. He hit a career high eight last season. Venezuela has a two-run lead with six outs to go.

March 19, 2023, 2:00 AM

Venezuela up 6-5 after seven

USA put runners on the corners with two outs in the seventh, but José Quijada struck out Kyle Tucker to strand 'em. Pitch looked up above the zone to me. USA is down to its final six outs. The good news is the lineup is guaranteed to turn over one more time, so Mookie and Trout will hit again. Bobby Witt Jr. looms as a pinch-running option should the situation arise.

March 19, 2023, 1:52 AM

Venezuela up 6-5 after six

Some loud contact that inning, but Luis Garcia has retired nine of the final 10 batters he faced. He's been strong again. USA has nine more outs to work with. That four-run fifth inning felt like a major momentum swing, but it's just a one-run game.

March 19, 2023, 1:25 AM

Acuña lifts a sac fly to deep center field. It's 6-5 Venezuela.

March 19, 2023, 1:15 AM

Venezuela ties it

Salvy Perez doubles to left. He's been awesome this WBC. Venezuela still has runners at second and third with one out. They're threatening for more. It's 5-5 in the fifth.

March 19, 2023, 1:14 AM

Anderson saves a run

Wow, incredible play by Anderson to snag are hard-hit grounder and get the out at second. A run scored there and it's 5-4 USA, but Anderson saved a run by keeping it on the infield, plus he got an out at second too. Reminder: Anderson had never played second base as a professional until the WBC.

March 19, 2023, 1:12 AM

Correction: right hand for Altuve, not the left.

March 19, 2023, 1:06 AM

Bard melting down

Bard just hit Altuve in the hand with a pitch. It looked like it hit both hands, actually, though he was holding his left hand as he left the field. He's out of the game. Bard then threw a wild pitch to score a run. It's 5-3 USA, but Venezuela has runners on second and third with no outs, and for some reason Bard is still in the game.

March 19, 2023, 1:05 AM

And now a wild pitch (or was that a passed ball?) moves the runners up. Second and third with no outs for Altuve.

March 19, 2023, 1:01 AM

Venezuela in business in the fifth

Bard walked Gleyber Torres to begin the inning, then Andrés Giménez beat out an infield single. Runners at first and second with no outs, and the top of the order coming up. Venezuela has a chance to get back in the game, if not put a dent in the scoreboard. USA still up 5-2.

March 19, 2023, 1:00 AM

Daniel Bard is in the game now. The bullpen machinations begin for USA.

March 19, 2023, 12:56 AM

Tucker takes Garcia deep

Astro on Astro crime. Tucker wraps one around the foul pole to give USA a 5-2 lead. He doubled against Garcia earlier in the game. At this point USA should have enough runs to win. It's on Lynn and the bullpen to get the final 15 outs.

March 19, 2023, 12:52 AM

Kendall Graveman is up in the USA bullpen. Lynn has thrown 52 pitches and the limit is 80 this round, though that might not be Lynn's number. The Dodgers set a 65-pitch limit for Julio Urías last night, for example.

March 19, 2023, 12:41 AM

USA up 4-2 in the fourth

Mookie Betts brought home Schwarber with a sac fly to center. All things considered, that inning could've been much worse for Venezuela. Second and third with no outs and only give up one run? That's a good outcome for Venezuela. Feels like USA should be up 7-8 runs, but Venezuela is in bloop and a blast range.

March 19, 2023, 12:33 AM

USA in business

Two misplays for Jose Altuve in the third. Kyle Schwarber pulled a grounder into the shift and Altuve whiffed on it. Giménez then made a great play on Realmuto's potential double play ball, but Altuve couldn't corral the throw at second. USA has runners at second and third with no outs.

March 19, 2023, 12:25 AM

USA up 3-2 after three

Chaotic first inning and relative normalcy since. USA put two runners on to start the second but did not score. Venezuela's only hit since the first was Suárez's double in the second, though he was tagged out after oversliding the base. I hate those ticky tack off the base for a nanosecond calls. Getting the call correct is important, but I feel like those calls go against the spirit of the rule.

March 19, 2023, 12:18 AM

Houston Astro Kyle Tucker doubled against Houston Astro Luis Garcia.

March 19, 2023, 12:05 AM

Astros righty Luis Garcia in for Venezuela now. He was excellent against the Dominican Republic last round. Three scoreless, hitless innings with seven strikeouts. He is charged with holding USA at three runs.

March 18, 2023, 11:58 PM

Rough night for second base ump Atsushi Fukaya. He missed the Altuve tag on Tucker in the first inning, and just missed Turner tagging Suárez after he came off the base on his double. Both calls were overturned on replay.

March 18, 2023, 11:53 PM

USA leads 3-2 in the second

J.T. Realmuto doubled and Trea Turner walked to begin the second, but Mookie Betts banged into a double play to snuff out the rally. Mike Trout struck out to end the inning. Turner slid in kinda hard at second base and upended Jose Altuve, who stayed down on the dirt for a moment. He's fine and still in the game (and Turner apologized). USA leads 3-2 in the second.

March 18, 2023, 11:46 PM

He's staying in the game.

March 18, 2023, 11:40 PM

Salvador Perez took a nasty foul tip to the face mask. He's being checked out by the trainer.

March 18, 2023, 11:39 PM
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