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Adam Jones is making Orioles fans proud with play after amazing play at World Baseball Classic

Adam Jones is making Orioles fans proud with play after amazing play at World Baseball Classic

Team USA is headed to the World Baseball Classic for the first time ever (!).

After a 2-1 victory over two-time WBC winner Japan, Team USA will play Puerto Rico Wednesday night for the title. Marcus Stroman is set to start for Team USA and Seth Lugo will do the same for Puerto Rico.

The standout playmaker for the Americans has been Orioles pie-thrower Adam Jones. Jones, a five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove award winner, has dropped some jaws with huge plays that helped push Team USA to the finals.

Against Colombia in the first round, Jones hit a walk-off single that allowed Christian Yelich to score from third and lifted Team USA to a 3-2 victory in the tenth inning. His walk-off during Friday night's game in Miami is only the third in WBC history for Team USA. The other two came from David Wright and Alex Rodriguez.

Moving onto Saturday night's contest against the Dominican Republic, Jones made the highlight play of the 2017 WBC. In his hometown of San Diego, Jones robbed fellow Oriole Manny Machado of a monstrous home run. Nearly leaping into the stands, Jones somehow snagged the should-have-been-gone ball.

After the catch, Team USA pitcher Tyler Clippard could be seen on video mouthing “Oh my God,” while Machado couldn’t help but tip his hat to Jones as he ran back to the dugout. Team USA would go on to beat the Dominican Republic 6-3 and advance to the semi-finals.

The Orioles star told MLB.com that even he was stunned when he caught the ball.

I'm still in kind of shock that I even got to that ball ... I mean, off the bat I'm just like this ball's hit really far, so just keep going, keep going. You know this California air's going to slow it down, and just never quit. That's just the style I play with. I don't mind running into a wall or two.

The stats on that catch are pretty shocking, too. According to Statcast, Jones plays as shallow as any outfielder does, usually at 307 feet from the plate. However, on this play he was 321 feet out, helping him run down the ball with a leaping grab.

Statcast calculates that the ball left Machado's bat at a velocity of 106.2 mph and a launch angle of 26 degrees. Those numbers combined gives a batter a 95% chance of a hit and a 90% chance of a home run. But Machado's odds didn't mean much with Jones roaming center field. 

After beating the Dominican Republic, Team USA moved on to play Japan Tuesday night and, for the third time, Jones made the difference. At the top of the eighth with the score tied at 1 apiece, he hit a go-ahead RBI which bounced off the glove of Japan’s third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda, giving Brandon Crawford extra time to score before throwing Jones out at first. Team USA went on to beat WBC heavyweight Japan, 2-1. 

If you have watched any of the WBC games, you can see just how much fun Jones is having throughout the series. Hopefully, the good times will keep rolling for Team USA as they play for the title tonight at 9 p.m. at Dodger Stadium.

RELATED: ORIOLES' ZACH BRITTON HOPES TO DUPLICATED GREAT 2016 SEASON

 

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Nationals' Tanner Roark pitches 4 scoreless innings in US defeat of Japan in WBC

Nationals' Tanner Roark pitches 4 scoreless innings in US defeat of Japan in WBC

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Luke Gregerson's final strike breezed past Nobuhiro Matsuda, and the rain-drenched American players celebrated on the field while a soaked crowd roared through the evening mist.

A daylong downpour couldn't dampen this resilient United States club or its fans, who will finally get to root for the home team in a World Baseball Classic championship game.

Brandon Crawford scored the tiebreaking run when Matsuda bobbled Adam Jones' grounder to third in the eighth inning, and the United States reached the WBC final for the first time by beating Japan 2-1 on Tuesday night at rainy Dodger Stadium.

Andrew McCutchen drove in an early run for the U.S., which will play Puerto Rico for the title Wednesday night. Puerto Rico edged the Netherlands 4-3 in 11 innings Monday.

"It means a heck of a lot," said McCutchen, the Pittsburgh Pirates slugger. "We've got a great group of guys on this team who have dedicated this time to be able to try and win some ballgames. Sacrifices had to be made, and there are no egos when that door opens. That's what's good about this team. Everybody is a superstar on this team. There are no egos."

The World Baseball Classic final has been played in the United States in each of its four editions, but the home team had never been able to play America's pastime on what has become its biggest international stage. The U.S. only reached the semifinals once before, in 2009.

While manager Jim Leyland's current roster is missing Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout and many other American superstars, the All-Star-laden group that decided to participate has won two straight elimination games to earn a chance for the U.S.' first crown.

"Coming into this event, I didn't really want to talk about the fact that the United States has never won it (and) they've never gone to the finals," Leyland said. "I didn't think that was a big deal. I wanted this, for the players, to be a memory. I've talked a lot about it. Make a memory. Hopefully it's a real good one, regardless of the results (Wednesday). I know it is for me. It's been an absolute honor."

To reach the final, the Americans had to persevere through an uncharacteristic Los Angeles rain that drenched the playing field several hours before game time. They also had to beat a gifted Japanese team at its own game: pitching, defense and small ball.

Ryosuke Kikuchi hit a tying homer off reliever Nate Jones in the sixth inning for Japan, but the two-time WBC champions were twice let down by their normally sturdy defense.

McCutchen opened the scoring with an RBI single in the fourth moments after Kikuchi's two-base error at second. In the eighth, Crawford likely would have been out at the plate on Jones' innocent grounder, but Matsuda didn't field it cleanly and had to throw to first.

"Well, two plays," Japan manager Hiroki Kokubo said through a translator. "Honestly, there were some mistakes, and then a run was scored. ... The team that makes mistakes will lose. That's what it means. I cannot blame them, though, for doing that."

Japan won the first two WBC tournaments before losing in the 2013 semifinals, and Kokubo's current team was unbeaten in this event.

"The players really did their very best," Kokubo said. "I really appreciate it. It's do-or-die, one semifinal."

Tanner Roark pitched four scoreless innings of two-hit ball before Leyland pulled him on the instructions of the Washington Nationals, who limited Roark to 50 pitches because he hadn't faced live hitters in nine days.

"I felt good enough to stay out there," Roark said.

Gregerson, the Americans' sixth reliever, worked a perfect ninth inning after Pat Neshek escaped a two-on jam in the eighth.

Leyland is confident he'll have a capable bullpen Wednesday after receiving texts from various pitching coaches around the majors on the status of their players. Toronto's Marcus Stroman, the starter, is free to reach the WBC's 95-pitch limit, Leyland confirmed.

Although the crowd of 33,462 strongly favored the team with five California natives in the starting lineup, thousands of Japanese fans showed up early and chanted throughout the game, accompanied by the brass band in the left-field bleachers.

Tomoyuki Sugano, the Yomiuri Giants ace with a seven-pitch repertoire, tossed six innings of three-hit ball for Japan, striking out six and yielding only one unearned run.

But Sugano was matched by Roark, who gave up just two singles and a walk in his four innings, also hitting a batter with a pitch.

After Christian Yelich reached second in the fourth inning when his hard-hit grounder was mishandled by Kikuchi, the standout defensive second baseman, Eric Hosmer worked out of an 0-2 count to draw a two-out walk.

McCutchen had just two hits in his first 14 at-bats in the WBC, but he drove in Yelich with a sharp single to left.

Kikuchi made up for his mistake in the sixth, driving Jones' fastball barely over the reach of McCutchen in right field for his first homer of the tournament.

Japan reliever Kodai Senga struck out the first four batters he faced with a 96 mph fastball and exceptional off-speed stuff, but Crawford then delivered a sharp single before Ian Kinsler doubled to deep left-center.

Neshek got cleanup hitter Yoshimoto Tsutsugoh on a fly to right to end the eighth.

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Dusty Baker concerned about Daniel Murphy not playing in World Baseball Classic

Dusty Baker concerned about Daniel Murphy not playing in World Baseball Classic

Dusty Baker expressed concern yesterday about Daniel Murphy not getting enough playing time in the World Baseball Classic. The Nats' second baseman has gone 0-6 in just two games for Team USA.

“He didn’t have his stuff together when he left,” Baker said, “and how are you going to get yourself together if you’re not playing?”

Murphy hit .347 for the Nationals last season, and was edged out by D.J. LaMahieu for best batting average in the National League. Baker is evidently frustrated his best hitter is missing valuable spring training time sitting on the bench at the World Baseball Classic, when he should be working out kinks before the season starts.

“Batting practice is one thing, but competition is something else. What can I do about it until he gets back? I just hope we can get him enough work.”

Tanner Roark is also spending a lot of time on the bench for Team USA. He has pitched just one and one-third innings, giving up three runs. Roark was supposed to return to the Grapefruit League after the first round, but chose to stay for another round.

Opening Day is April 3, meaning Murphy and Roark will have at most a couple weeks to prepare for the season once they return from the tournament.

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