Team USA used a familiar formula—starting pitching and the long ball—to win its 11th straight World Cup game and clinch a spot in Sunday’s gold-medal game. Todd Redmond (Braves) pitched scoreless ball into the ninth inning, and Buck Coats (Blue Jays), Ike Davis (Mets) and Jon Weber (Rays) hit solo homers as the U.S. beat Puerto Rico 3-0.
The victory gives Team USA a 5-0 record in the third round—three wins carrying over from the second round, and two wins in this round. Because every other team in the pool has two losses, the Americans clinched a spot in the title game and will get a chance to defend the gold medal they won in 2007. MLB Network will carry the game, scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 27, at 9 a.m. Eastern. MLB Network also will carry tomorrow’s game between Cuba and the U.S. at 2 p.m. ET.
Thanks to the win Wednesday, the Americans don’t have to beat Cuba in Thursday’s game, which was rendered meaningless by yet another strong American pitching performance. Redmond issued his first walk of the tournament, but the righthander improved to 3-0, 1.21 in three Cup starts. He gave up four hits and struck out four in 8 1/3 innings. Jason Childers (Rays), who had struggled previously in the tournament, with an 11.25 ERA in four games, got the call and struck out Irving Falu (Royals), and ex-big leaguer Luis Matos popped out to end the game.
The U.S. runs all came on solo home runs, by Davis in the second, Coats in the fifth and Weber in the eighth. Coincidentally, all came with one out. Team USA has hit 34 home runs in 12 World Cup games.
Team USA’s opponent in the finale has yet to be determined. Lefthanders Cory Luebke (Padres) and Trevor Reckling (Angels) both are set up to start the title game, but the Americans have yet to name a starter.