Mexico Rides Passion from Crowd to WBC Victory over United States

Joey Meneses celebrates a homer in the 11–5 Mexico victory over USA in the World Baseball Classic.
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Mexico 11, United States 5

PHOENIX, Mar. 12 — Joey Meneses went 3-for-5 with two homers, five RBI, and three runs scored as Team Mexico — buoyed by a passionate crowd of 47,534 — routed Team USA, 11–5, Sunday night.

Facing USA right-hander Nick Martinez, left fielder Randy Arozarena legged out an infield hit to shortstop, getting Mexico started in the top of the first. First base umpire Jairo Mendoza of Nicaragua initially called him out, but replay review showed that Arozarena beat the throw by inches. Two batters later, first baseman Joey Meneses blasted a two-run homer to left-center that sent the large Mexico fan contingent into euphoria. The sound from the sold-out Chase Field reached a deafening level.

Team USA did not respond until the bottom of the second off Mexico starter Patrick Sandoval. A one-out triple to the right-field corner by Kyle Tucker set the table for shortstop Tim Anderson, who dumped a single to right, slashing the deficit to 2–1.

Mexico Blows It Open

Mexico made it 3–1 in the top of the third on a series of strange hits, all with two outs. Meneses hit a bouncer down the third-base line. Sure-handed third baseman Nolan Arenado gloved it on the run but could not transfer the ball to his throwing hand cleanly, giving Meneses an infield single. Designated hitter Rowdy Tellez hit a fly into the Bermuda Triangle in shallow center. Second baseman Jeff McNeil ran it down, but the ball clanked off his glove on the one-handed over-the-shoulder catch attempt, advancing Meneses to third as Tellez got a bizarre single.

Third baseman Isaac Paredes hit a grounder to second. It normally would have been a routine groundout, but with the righty-pull overshift, McNeil had to run a long way. He got to the ball and fired to first, the throw arriving before Paredes. However, Goldschmidt pulled his foot while scooping up the throw. With Paredes safe, Meneses scored.

The game became an even bigger fiesta for the Mexico faithful in the top of the fourth off new pitcher Brady Singer. A one-out single by center fielder Alek Thomas and two-out double to the gap in right-center made the score 4–1. After Alex Verdugo walked, Meneses bombed a deep drive to left-center. He watched the no-doubt three-run blast soar deep into the crowd, heaving his bat to the moon in a bat toss that will forever live on in internet videos.

United States Inches Closer, but Mexico Continues Onslaught

With the score now 7–1, Mexico’s pitching staff continued to torment Team USA’s bats. They allowed only one baserunner in the fourth, fifth, and sixth. That came on a leadoff single in the bottom of the sixth by center fielder Mike Trout — only the third American hit of the game. In the bottom of the seventh, catcher Will Smith made the score 7–2 with a two-out homer to left.

Mexico, however, got that run right back in the top of the eighth and continued pouring it on. While facing Daniel Bard, catcher Austin Barnes singled to right and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Arozarena, up next, drove Barnes in with a double, his third hit of the game. After Verdugo took a pitch off his foot, leaving the game for pinch-runner Jarren Duran, Meneses advanced Arozarena to third on a deep fly to center. As Tellez batted, Duran stole second, putting both runners in scoring position. Tellez drove both in with a single to left, making the score 10–2. A walk by Urias advanced Tellez to second, and a single to left by Trejo brought him home. Out came Bard, and in came Devin Williams, who got Thomas to line to second for the third out.

Too Little, Too Late

Team USA mounted a three-run rally in the bottom of the eighth. Trout walked with run out. A single to left by Goldschmidt advanced pinch-runner Cedric Mullins to second. Bobby Witt Jr, pinch-hitting for Arenado, smoked a double to right-center. Mullins scored easily. When Thomas bobbled the ball, Goldschmidt appeared to have a chance to score. Witt also appeared to have a chance for a triple. However, third-base coach Dino Ebel put up the stop sign, and both runners slammed on the brakes. Pete Alonso popped to the first baseman halfway between home and first, wasting a golden opportunity.

In came Samuel Zazueta to pitch to Tucker in a lefty-lefty matchup. Tucker walked, bringing up Anderson with the bases loaded and two outs. Anderson ripped a hot grounder down the left-field line, scoring both Goldschmidt and Witt while advancing Tucker to third. Smith followed with a deep drive to center, but Thomas had no trouble running it down to make the inning-ending catch. Neither team scored in the ninth, finalizing the score at 11–5.

Postgame Reflections

Emotions ran high from the beginning, starting with the loud, passionate singing of the Mexican national anthem, “Himno Nacional Mexicano,” by the crowd before the game. Arozarena said hearing it “was incredible. I’ve never played with so many fans in the World Series. So it was something that I could remember the moment because to become Mexican I had to learn the National Anthem and I had to sing it with them. So it was very emotional for me that all the people would cheer us and everybody sat here all united.” He added that the crowd made sure the players knew they weren’t alone.

Sandoval added, “To be quite honest, I’m still trying to learn the National Anthem. It was incredible. (I’ve) never been in an environment like that with the energy, the crowd. It was just insane, so much to feed off of, and it’s just awesome.” He called the win “a great experience,” saying it was up there with one of the greatest nights of his baseball career.

Mexico manager Benji Gil said it was a “very special day” in his life and the lives of “every other player.” After the gut-wrenching loss to Colombia Saturday, Mexico needed a big bounce-back. Gil felt that his team was written off. “If you would have asked them yesterday, all the experts, (they’d have said) tomorrow it was going to be a very complicated day for all the people that are part of the Mexican baseball. Why? Because we’re facing a team full of stars. (USA has) Hall of Famers. They are Hall of Fame material.” Gil mentioned players he enjoys watching play, including Trout and Witt. He concluded, “It’s a very beautiful day for all of Mexico” and for the tournament, with the win “making things very interesting.”

Joey Meneses

Joey Meneses said he had “no words” to describe the emotions he felt when he hit the second home run. “It was a very beautiful sensation with a lot of adrenaline,” he added, “with the stadium full. There was adrenaline that came out when I threw the bat.” He was “enjoying the moment” while running the bases.

Gil managed Meneses with Culiacan in the Mexican Pacific Winter League for seven seasons. As a result, Gil has known his talent for a long time. He even said that Gil should have been called up to the majors with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2018. “He’s a great baseball player, a great batter,” Gil said.

Mark DeRosa

Team USA manager Mark DeRosa said Martinez was “a little amped up. I thought he settled in the second and third inning. It’s tough. You’re trying to massage innings, trying to protect these guys. You’re trying to honor their parent clubs, do different things. Brady Singer getting in trouble there was tough. But they swung the bats well. We were sitting there one run, three hits through six innings. And it took us a little late explosion which hopefully gets the offense going, but they played a good ball game.”

DeRosa not only has to face a 65-pitch limit for each pitcher in the first round but also has restrictions that have been placed on him by each pitcher’s parent club. Some pitchers were “restricted from cleaning up a dirty inning and going back out,” DeRosa said. He added that with Daniel Bard, who gave up four runs in 2/3 of an inning, “we were trying to get him through that inning, trying to get Devin Williams to the eighth to be able to save Pressly,” but that plan did not work.

“It’s Tough”

Managing with the obligations was “tough,” DeRosa said, because he’s also trying to win games. “There are a lot of guys that mean a lot to these big-league ball clubs and their seasons. I’m not going to do anything to jeopardize them. I would have loved to have put Kendall back out there after five pitches. I would have loved to put Devin back out there after one. But that’s not what we’re doing.”

It is frustrating for him to not be able to manage with urgency. “Obviously I want nothing more for these guys to repeat as champions and hold up the trophy. But I’m not going to do anything to jeopardize these guys’ big-league careers. Just not. So it was tough. Tonight was tough.”

Looking Ahead

The result put USA and Mexico in a tie with identical 1–1 records. Mexico is off Monday. Team USA will play Team Canada, who walloped Great Britain in the early game Sunday, Monday night at 7 pm Arizona Time.

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Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan is the owner and sole contributor of Thompson Talks, a website discussing the Big Four North American Pro Sports as well as soccer. He also is a credentialed member of the Colorado Rockies press corps. His first and biggest love is baseball.

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