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Quiroz quickly sparks Mexico with leadoff HR

MLB.com

In a tournament where every game is so important, getting off to a good start is imperative to advancing in the World Baseball Classic.

Esteban Quiroz helped Team Mexico do just that Thursday night, hitting the eighth leadoff home run in tournament history. His team didn't capitalize on the early lead, however, as Mexico fell victim to Italy's ninth-inning rally and eventual 10-9 victory in the Pool D opener.

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In a tournament where every game is so important, getting off to a good start is imperative to advancing in the World Baseball Classic.

Esteban Quiroz helped Team Mexico do just that Thursday night, hitting the eighth leadoff home run in tournament history. His team didn't capitalize on the early lead, however, as Mexico fell victim to Italy's ninth-inning rally and eventual 10-9 victory in the Pool D opener.

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Andrelton Simmons was the last player to accomplish the feat, leading off with a home run to begin the Netherlands' second-round loss to Japan in 2013.

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

Quiroz stepped in to begin the game for Mexico, who played as the visitors despite the friendly surroundings at Estadio Charros de Jalisco. The second baseman worked a 3-1 count against Italy starter Alessandro Maestri before finding a pitch over the heart of the zone. Taking advantage of the thin mountain air in Jalisco, Quiroz turned on the pitch and launched it over the left-field wall to send the Mexican crowd into an early frenzy.

Quiroz's home run proved contagious throughout the contest as both teams combined for six long balls and 19 total runs. Designated hitter Japhet Amador also homered for Mexico, while right fielder John Andreoli, left fielder Rob Segedin, first baseman Chris Colabello and DH Drew Butera went deep for Italy

The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.