World Baseball Classic: Phillies' Trea Turner stays red-hot to help Team USA to championship
Trea Turner stays red-hot to help Team USA to WBC championship originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The best nine-hole hitter on the planet, Trea Turner stayed hot as Team USA rolled past Cuba in the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic Sunday evening, 14-2.
Turner hit two more home runs Sunday after delivering the game-winning grand slam for Team USA Saturday against Venezuela. He leads the tournament with four homers and 10 RBI, and his 1.000 slugging percentage is tied for second among all WBC players with at least 10 at-bats to Canada's Edouard Julien.
The win advanced Team USA to Tuesday's championship game. It will play the winner of Monday night's Mexico vs. Japan semifinal (7 p.m. ET on FS1). If Mexico advances, the Phillies would have four players in the WBC championship between their U.S. trio (Turner, J.T. Realmuto, Kyle Schwarber) and Taijuan Walker for Mexico.
Schwarber also started Sunday night and walked twice. He's reached base in 7 of 16 plate appearances. Realmuto, who has split the six games with Dodgers catcher Will Smith, is 5 for 8 with two doubles, two RBI, a walk, hit by pitch and sac fly. Realmuto was hit to load the bases for Turner's eighth-inning salami on Saturday.
Walker has started once in the WBC, pitching four shutout innings with eight strikeouts in Mexico's 2-1 win over Great Britain on Tuesday. Walker would be on regular rest to appear in relief Sunday night if Mexico needs him after lefty starter Patrick Sandoval, or he could be saved for the championship game Tuesday if a decent lead is built against Japan. Walker or Astros right-hander Jose Urquidy would be in line to start the championship game if Mexico advances.
A Mexico loss would set up an appealing championship matchup between the USA and Japan and starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani. He last started Thursday and threw 71 pitches over 4⅔ innings, so he's unlikely to pitch tonight in Monday's semifinal. He would be on regular rest to start Tuesday, however.
Unsurprisingly, Ohtani has dominated the tournament for Japan. He's started twice and is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 8⅔ innings with 10 strikeouts and one walk. At the plate, he's gone 7 for 16 with a homer, eight RBI and eight walks (two intentional).
This is only the second time the United States has advanced to the WBC championship. Japan won the first two World Baseball Classics in 2006 and 2009, defeating Cuba and South Korea. The Dominican Republic won in 2013 and the U.S. won in 2017, both beating Puerto Rico in the final.