The Team USA contingent again failed to put their stamp on the World Baseball Classic losing to Team Puerto Rico and ultimately being eliminated from the tourney. Team USA has never won the classic and has only advanced to the semi-finals once in three tries.
The Americans dominated Team Puerto Rico three days earlier cruising to a 7-1 win but was unable to plate the runs when it mattered most losing a close contest 4-3. Puerto Rico was backed by a dominant pitching performance from journeyman hurler Nelson Figueroa. The 38-year-old kept USA hitters off balance changing speeds only allowing two hits over six scoreless frames. The Americans were left snake bitten at the plate as the wiley veteran tossed a gem of a ball game.
Team USA played without their leader David Wright who is ailing with a sore back and remains even questionable for opening day; his replacement Ben Zobrist went hitless in the affair.
Team Puerto Rico will now advance to the semi-finals and play either Team Japan or the Netherlands for a shot at the championship. Puerto Rico has never advanced past the second round in the two previous World Baseball Classics.
The Puerto Ricans will be in tough ground moving forward having only connected for one home run in the entire tourney. Angel Pagan leads the team in batting stroking a .391 average in six contests.
While Team Puerto Rico sets their sites on championship grandeur, the Americans again fail to win the big game and are sent home reflecting on what could have been.
Clayton Richer covers the Toronto Blue Jays for Rant Sports. Follow and interact with him on Twitter at @MLBHotCorner.