It may be considered the national pastime, but in the first three World Baseball Classics the United States was far from dominant, with Japan winning twice and the Dominican Republic winning once. The Americans went 10-10 over the course of those tourneys and had never finished better than fourth — until this year.
But facing a Puerto Rican team they’d lost to less than a week ago, the United States left no room for doubt Wednesday, cruising to an 8-0 win and the World Baseball Classic title. It was the most lopsided title game so far in the four runs of the tournament.
Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman pitched six strong innings, giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out three. Second-baseman Ian Kinsler of the Detroit Tigers started the scoring with a two-run homer in the third inning, and Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen and San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford each batted in two runs as well.
Puerto Rico managed just three hits against the Americans — two by former Giants outfielder Angel Pagan — and struck out six times. Starting pitcher Seth Lugo of the New York Mets gave up four runs in five innings to take the loss.
It was a tough loss for Puerto Rico, which also made the title game of the quadrennial event in 2013 but failed to score a run, losing 3-0 to the Dominicans. The team became beloved on the island during its run, with the players’ decision to bleach their hair mimicked by many fans at home, leading to shortages of the treatment.