Rosenthal: Trea Turner’s grand slam powers exhilarating comeback as USA advances

- Advertisement -

MIAMI – Trea Turner had faced Venezuelan right-hander Silvino Bracho exactly once in his career.

“Go look at the highlight of the at-bat,” he told me just before I interviewed him on FS1.

“Bad?” I asked.

“So bad,” Turner replied.

The at-bat took place on Sept. 26, 2016, in the ninth inning of a game in which Turner’s former team, the Nationals, trailed the Diamondbacks, 14-4. Bracho threw an 82-mph slider. Turner checked his swing. His groundball to first was so feeble, he never even ran.

Pretty bad — and Turner’s entire frame of reference when Bracho entered Saturday night’s World Baseball Classic quarterfinal with the bases loaded, none out in the top of the eighth and Venezuela leading the United States, 7-5.

Trea Turner’s second time facing Silvino Bracho was much better for the Phillies shortstop than the first time. (Sam Navarro / USA Today)

Turner, Team USA’s $300 million No. 9 hitter, took a fastball for strike one. He fouled off another fastball for strike two. At that point, he was 3-for-13 in the WBC, though one of his hits was a homer. He was still looking for his swing, just as he might in a normal spring training. Down 0-2, he knew he had Mookie Betts and Mike Trout hitting behind him.

Bracho has made only four major-league appearances the past four seasons. Venezuela manager Omar López needed him to get outs after lefty Jose Quijada loaded the bases by walking Tim Anderson, allowing a bloop single by pinch-hitter Pete Alonso and hitting J.T. Realmuto. Closer José Alvarado, López said, was not available for more than four outs.

Bracho threw Turner a changeup, right over the heart of the plate. This time, Turner did not check his swing. Instead, he turned on the pitch furiously, following through with a majestic one-handed finish. On a night of so many doubts, a night when reliever Daniel Bard suffered a frightening loss of control, helping turn a 5-2 lead into a 6-5 deficit, Turner hit the ultimate no-doubter, an indelible grand slam.

“I feel like I blacked out,” Turner said.

He wasn’t alone.

“I saw about 35 guys, including the coaches, kind of black out,” Team USA manager Mark DeRosa said.

The memories might be hazy for Turner, DeRosa and Co., but those who were conscious will never forget what they saw. Turner skipping toward first base, shaking with excitement, gesturing toward the dugout. Then, rounding third with virtually all of Team USA waiting at home plate to celebrate with him, the same way the Venezuelan and many other foreign teams do.

Major-league clubs are more reserved, only emptying the dugout for walk-offs. But DeRosa, who played in Venezuela for Leones del Caracas during the 2000-01 offseason, knew Saturday night needed to be different. The WBC was down to single elimination. And the sellout crowd in Miami was certain to be pro-Venezuelan.

DeRosa told his players before the game to bring their passion, match Team Venezuela’s energy, “let it go.” He said…

Read More: Rosenthal: Trea Turner’s grand slam powers exhilarating comeback as USA advances 2023-03-19 14:00:59

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments