In a game that was tight from the opening pitch of the first inning to the last one in the bottom of the 10th, the U.S. defeated Colombia in its World Baseball Classic opener, 3-2, on a walk-off single by Orioles center fielder Adam Jones.
U.S. starter Chris Archer (Rays) and Colombia starter Jose Quintana (White Sox) were each masterful to open the contest.
Archer tossed four perfect innings, striking out three on 41 pitches. Quintana dominated for 5 2/3 innings, holding U.S. batters hitless until his 63rd pitch of the game was lined for a single by Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford.
Jones' game-winning single to left-center came off Colombia reliever Guillermo Moscoso. Jones finished 2-for-5 with both U.S. RBIs in the game.
The walk-off hit was the third in Classic history for the U.S. -- the others were also game-winning singles, one by Alexander Rodriguez in a 4-3 win over Japan in the second round in 2006, and one by David Wright that gave the U.S. a 6-5 victory over Puerto Rico in the second round of the 2009 Classic.
"Obviously, I've had a lot of good moments with the Orioles playing against Major League Baseball teams, but this one, playing against countries, obviously everything is individualized from country to country, this ranks up there pretty high," Jones said.
Adrian Sanchez and Mauricio Ramos hit RBI doubles for Colombia, a team that left a lasting impression with its performance.
"I tip my cap to Team Colombia; they played their tails off," Jones said. "Quintana and their defense, they completely, I think, just impressed everybody, and hopefully the baseball in that country continues to grow and grow and grow, because they've got a bright future as a country with baseball."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
No contact necessary: With the potential tying run 90 feet away and two out in the sixth, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado struck out swinging at a William Cuevas slider in the dirt, but the ball got past Colombia catcher Jhonatan Solano. As the tying run crossed the plate, Arenado beat Solano's throw to first with a headfirst slide. More >
Triple-double breakthrough: With the game scoreless (and hitless) in the fifth inning, Colombia broke through with three consecutive two-out doubles off Orioles reliever Mychal Givens to take a 2-0 lead. Jesus Valdez stroked a pitch into the gap in left-center, and that was followed by two two-baggers from Sanchez and Ramos.
Passing the stress test: Colombia put runners at first and second with one out in the eighth and the score tied at 2. Donovan Solano hit a line drive to third off Phillies reliever Pat Neshek. Arenado caught the ball and in one motion, while on the run, threw to first to double off Tito Polo.
Clutch Cuevas: In the eighth, the U.S. responded with a threat of its own, putting runners at the corners with one out against Cuevas. But the right-hander struck out Jones and got Arenado to line out to center field.
"It was definitely a special moment. ... I haven't started in a postseason game in my career, and the last time I played in the postseason was four years ago. So to go out there and have that type of atmosphere, honestly, I got chill bumps four or five times before the game and just like kind of thinking to myself, is this real?" -- Archer
"We had a short meeting after the game, and I told the guys that the end result was not important for us. It was to show the people what Colombia is doing with baseball. We played good baseball. ... The result was not good for us, but we are happy for the job we did. To be tied for 10 innings with the U.S.A., I think it was satisfactory, and the players should be proud." -- Colombia manager Luis Urueta
"We almost were able to touch the sky and we still have a good opportunity, and we'll continue to show the world how great we are." -- Quintana
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Prior to the three straight doubles against him in the fifth inning, Givens had surrendered three consecutive extra-base hits just once in his Major League career (88 appearances).
Colombia: It'll be a quick turnaround as Colombia takes on Canada at noon ET on Saturday. Canada was beaten by the Dominican Republic, 9-2, in the Pool C opener on Thursday.
United States: The U.S. will take on the defending Classic champion, the Dominican Republic, at 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. The game at Marlins Park in Miami is sold out.
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