Team USA continued its power trip in the World Cup, and Pedro Alvarez (Pirates) took the baton from Justin Smoak (Rangers) to carry the load this time.
Alvarez hit three of Team USA’s six home runs, as the Americans won their sixth straight game, beating Taiwan 14-3 in Torino, Italy. Team USA put up seven runs in the first inning, with Alvarez blasting a three-run homer as part of the rally.
Alvarez homered again in the second inning, making it 10-0, and the Americans had five homers over the next three innings. Jon Weber (Rays), who’s hitting a team-best .480, had a two-run shot, while Terry Tiffee (Phillies) and Lucas May (Dodgers) hit solo homers in the fourth inning. Later that inning, Alvarez finished the U.S. scoring with his third homer, making it 14-0.
Team USA now has 22 home runs to lead the event—six by Smoak—and it’s also pitched extremely well since blowing a 7-2 lead and losing to Venezuela 13-9. The team has allowed just seven runs in six games since the loss. Starter Todd Redmond (Braves) struck out six and gave up three runs in six innings, while B.J. Rosenberg (Phillies) finished up with one inning until the game was called by the 10-run mercy rule.
The U.S. will face Australia on Friday with lefty Trevor Reckling (Angels) expected to take the mound.
In other games Thursday:
• Canada improved to 2-2 in the second round as it beat Japan 3-2 in 11 innings, despite just two hits, as Futures Game MVP Rene Tosoni (Twins) ran over Japan’s catcher at score the winning run.
Brett Lawrie (Brewers) drove in the Canadians’ lone run in the first nine innings, and neither team scored in the 10th. In the 11th, Japan scored a run in the top half before Canada rallied. Terrence Dayleg (Marlins) sacrificed the runners (Adam Loewen of the Blue Jays and Tosoni) over to second and third. Shawn Bowman (Mets) was intentionally walked to load the bases for Emerson Frostad (Rangers).
Frostad was 0-for-3 before blooping a single to right. Loewen scored easily, and Tosoni scored even though the throw beat him. He ran over Ryo Saeki, separating him from the ball and touching up to score the winning run. “It wasn’t hit really deep to right field," Tosoni told Baseball.ca, "so I knew it was going to be a bang-bang play, and all I needed to do was get the ball out of the catcher’s hands because it was the winning run, so I definitely wanted to do anything I could."
Japanese pitchers Atsui Tanaka, Hirofumi Yamanaka and Takashi Saito (not the Red Sox righty, but that is his name) struck out 18 in the first 10 innings while holding Canada to one hit. Canada started Matt Kniginsyzky (Royals), who gave up a run in the first but no other runs over his six innings of work. Chris Kissock (Phillies) and winning pitcher Jimmy Henderson (Brewers) wrapped up with five solid innings, with Kissock going two scoreless innings.
• In the Italian pool, Mexico rallied from a 6-0 deficit to beat Netherlands Antilles 9-8, while Australia edged host Italy 5-4. Ex-big leaguer Chris Snelling capped a rally from a 4-0 deficit with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. Six-foot-8, 277-pound righthander Dushan Ruzic (Reds) threw seven shutout innings of relief to hold the Italians in check while the Aussie offense rallied.
• In the Netherlands, the host nation and Cuba remained unbeaten. Cuba (7-0) drilled Spain 10-0, scoring five runs in the eighth (three on a homer by Ariel Pestano) to break it open. The Dutch had 13 hits to beat Venezuela 8-5, as converted catcher Kenley Jansen (Dodgers) worked out of an eighth-inning jam. Sidney de Jong and Curt Smith (Cardinals) had three hits apiece for the Netherlands, now 4-0.
• Puerto Rico edged Great Britain 5-4, while South Korea rallied with a six-run fifth inning to beat Nicaragua 7-2. At 3-1 in the second round, Puerto Rico is nearly assured of advancing to the third and final round.
Four teams advance from each pool, with Cuba and the Netherlands leading the Dutch pool at 4-0. At 4-0, the U.S. leads the Italian pool, followed by Australia and Taiwan at 3-1 apiece. Canada and Mexico are 2-2, fighting for the fourth spot, with Japan at 1-3.
• Twins officials informed IBAF officials, who had said there were 10 Twins on the 22 teams in the field, that they were wrong. In fact, there are 14 members of the Twins organization in the World Cup, and nine other former Twins in the event. Twenty-three players originally signed by the Twins are playing in the World Cup.