Major League Baseball
Trea Turner grand slam leads USA over Venezuela and into WBC semifinal
Major League Baseball

Trea Turner grand slam leads USA over Venezuela and into WBC semifinal

Updated Mar. 19, 2023 10:32 a.m. ET

MIAMI — Everything went right for Team USA in a pivotal eighth inning against Venezuela, but no swing was more important than the one that belonged to the nine-hole hitter. 

Trailing Venezuela by two runs, USA loaded the bases with nobody out against left-hander José Quijada. Tim Anderson drew a walk, Pete Alonso hit a pinch-hit single and J.T. Realmuto was hit by a pitch. 

Venezuela manager Omar Lopez replaced Quijada with right-hander Silvino Bracho, who was walking into a nightmare situation. Not only would Bracho attempt to get his first hitter out, but looming right behind him was the top of the USA order, featuring none other than Mookie Betts and Mike Trout.

But first up was Trea Turner, the uber talented nine-hole hitter who emphasizes just how deep USA’s lineup is. Turner was quickly down 0-2 against Bracho, but he hardly let that phase him. On the third pitch he saw, Turner launched a grand slam to left field and erased the deficit to put the team up, 9-7, in the eighth inning. Later, Turner said the grand slam was his highest individual achievement in baseball — and that says a lot coming from a guy who has recorded 44 hits in 27 career playoff games. 


"Probably the loudest game I've ever played in," Turner said. "Today was electric and just as good as those World Series games."

USA's dugout erupted as players leaped over the dugout railing and practically flew to the plate to receive Turner. As his teammates waited in a half-circle at home plate, Turner saluted them before jumping up and down and celebrating with his squad. USA hitting coach Ken Griffey Jr. embraced Turner in a hug as the crowd roared behind them. It all added up to the most emotion we had seen from USA so far in the tournament.

Before the game, USA manager Mark DeRosa held a team meeting about the "hostile environment" they were walking into and instructed his players to match Venezuela’s passion. 

"When Trea clipped that ball, honestly, I saw about 35 guys, including the coaches, kind of black out and lose their minds for a minute," said DeRosa.

USA never looked back after Turner's majestic home run, knocking Venezuela out of the World Baseball Classic with a 9-7 win on Saturday night at loanDepot Park. Team USA will play Cuba in the WBC semifinals on Sunday night in Miami with veteran Adam Wainwright taking the hill.

Trea Turner crushes a go-ahead grand slam that gives the USA a 9-7 lead in the eighth inning

Turner's home run was the third USA grand slam in WBC history, as he joined Jason Varitek (2006) and David Wright (2013). USA's offense overcame right-hander Daniel Bard's shaky fifth-inning relief outing and questionable in-game strategy by DeRosa, both of which led to a four-run rally by Venezuela that, at the time, put USA in a one-run deficit. Bard also hit Jose Altuve by a pitch, forcing Venezuela's star second baseman to leave the game with an apparent right hand injury.

Prior to that game-altering fifth inning, USA was for the most part in complete control of the game.

USA had knocked Venezuela lefthander Martín Pérez out of his start after just five batters. Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and Kyle Tucker ripped five consecutive hits off Pérez to open the top of the first inning. Before many fans had even found their seats, USA put up a 3-0 lead over Pérez and Venezuela, prompting manager Omar López to pull the southpaw from his 16-pitch outing.

Make no mistake, Saturday night's quarterfinal was an away game for team USA. Venezuela received the loudest ovations during pregame player introductions as yellow, blue and red flags infiltrated loanDepot Park. Despite the pregame hysteria, the majority of the stadium was quieted as US hitters hustled around the bases to rally in that first inning. DeRosa, hours before first pitch, had acknowledged that the away-game atmosphere may bode well for his squad. Trout and Betts in particular were fired up by their early success against Pérez.

But the ballpark roared back to life just seven Lance Lynn pitches later when Luis Arráez crushed a two-run home run, cutting Venezuela's deficit to 3-2 in the first inning. Venezuela's immediate response to USA foreshadowed the tug-of-war battle between the squads.

"I wanted our guys when we got rolling to come out of the dugout and send a message that we were going to match their energy," DeRosa said.

In the end, it was Lynn who gave the gutsiest performance of the night, if only because it was obvious from the opening frame that the right-hander didn't have his best stuff on Saturday. Lynn labored throughout his outing, taking ample time between pitches to gather himself on the grass off to the side of the mound. 

Though he didn't record a single clean inning, Lynn did a solid job of limiting the damage after Arráez's first inning home run. When Lynn knew his 16th batter of the night, Eugenio Suarez, would be his last, he barreled down and struck Suarez out with a high heater to end the fourth inning. Lynn erupted with a howl and a fist bump before his teammates lined up to high-five him in the dugout.

"It doesn't matter who is pitching, who is closing the game, who is hitting third, it doesn't matter," Turner said. "It's about winning the game. So I'm just glad we came out on top."

Though DeRosa managed Saturday’s quarterfinal like there was no tomorrow, he admitted it will be a late night for him and his coaching staff as they prepare to face Cuba. USA used six relievers, including high-leverage arms Devin Williams and Ryan Pressly, to shut down Venezuela. DeRosa will have to get creative with bullpen usage on Sunday to piggyback what he hopes will be an extended outing from Wainwright.

But in terms of atmosphere? If Saturday’s quarterfinal was rowdy, Sunday’s semifinal with Cuban fans in the building may be downright thunderous. Several team USA players, including Turner and Betts, had lost their voices by the end of the night amidst the celebrating and yelling over the crowd noise. USA knows it will once again play the role of the villainous away team against Cuba, but it’s a feeling the team is looking forward to embracing again.

"This is pretty much an all-time high, so I’m looking forward to another game like this," Betts said.

Team USA vs Cuba World Baseball Classic Semifinals preview

Ben Verlander and Alex Curry preview Team USA's matchup vs Cuba in the World Baseball Classic Semifinals.

Deesha Thosar is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the Mets as a beat reporter for the New York Daily News. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.

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