MIAMI— Retired manager Jim Leyland was back at his familiar perch on the dugout steps Friday night, looking tense as he watched his U.S. team go hitless until the sixth inning and flirt with a devastating defeat before pulling out a 10th-inning win in its first game at the World Baseball Classic.
“Now you know why I’m not managing anymore,” Leyland said with a laugh.
He and his players could smile only after Adam Jones hit the winning RBI single with two out in the 10th to beat Colombia 3-2.
Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado finished 0-for-4 with one strikeout and was robbed of a hit by Single-A center fielder Tito Polo of Colombia, who made a sprawling catch of Arenado’s liner with the score tied and two on to end the eighth.
The Americans improved their all-time WBC record to 11-10. They failed to make it to the finals in the three previous events and next face the Dominican Republic, the defending champion.
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“I’m hoping this win takes a little bit of pressure off and we can relax a little bit,” Leyland said. “You don’t relax against the Dominican Republic, but at least the guys feel good they got a win under their belt.”
U.S. starter Chris Archer retired all 12 batters he faced. Archer, coming off a 9-19 season with Tampa Bay, struck out three and needed only 41 pitches to get through four innings.
“It was tough, but we stuck to the plan,” Archer said.
Colombian starter Carlos Quintana was also dominant, holding the Americans hitless until Brandon Crawford singled with two out in the sixth. Quintana was then pulled because he had thrown 63 pitches, and Colombia’s 2-0 lead was soon gone too.
William Cuevas gave up an RBI double by Jones and threw a wild pitch that allowed the tying run to score in the sixth.
“I was very hurt with the outcome,” Quintana said in Spanish. “We had many chances to get the victory. Every pitch was with all energy possible.”
With one out in the 10th, Christian Yelich and Crawford walked against Guillermo Moscoso, and both advanced on a groundout. The noisy crowd of 22,580 was on its feet when Jones lined a single on an 0-2 pitch and was mobbed by his teammates.
“I’ve had a lot of good moments with the Orioles,” Jones said, “but this one ranks up there.”
Pat Neshek struck out Jesus Valdez with two on to end the Colombian ninth. Tyler Clippard pitched around a walk in the 10th to earn the win.
Elsewhere on Friday, Puerto Rico beat Venezuela 11-0. T.J. Rivera led Puerto Rico with three RBIs, while Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez went 0-for-4 and left four on base.
In Pool B, outfielder Alfredo Despaigne hit a grand slam in the fifth inning to propel Cuba past Australia 4-3 and into the second round. Also, Seiji Kobayashi and Sho Nakata hit two-run homers as Japan routed China 7-1.
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