Hard to believe, I know, but team USA looks like they might be okay after all. Sure, losing to Mexico was a tough way to start the World Baseball Classic. After wins over Canada and Italy got the host nation into the second round, the Stars and Bars looks like a decent squad after all.

Behind five brilliant innings from Gio Gonzalez, team USA battered their Puerto Rican opponents 7-1, moving one win from the semifinals in San Francisco. As he as all tournament long, David Wright was the spark – driving in five runs on two hits. Wright now has 10 RBI in just four games. I’m sorry, who were we hoping would play for this team instead?

As is often the case, Wright gets all the credit but the entire US lineup did the job last night. The US offense made it simple for Wright to drive in so many runs.

Wright’s first at bat came with two runners on. His second at bat came with the bases loaded in the third inning. The bases were loaded again in the fifth inning when Wright made his third plate appearance of the night. After striking out with the bases empty in the seventh inning, Wright got to hit with the bases loaded again in the eighth.

Jimmy Rollins had two hits, Ryan Braun had two hits, a walk and reached on a passed ball, and Joe Mauer had a hit and three walks in the spot ahead of Wright. For all his lineup tomfoolery (not to mention bunting with Brandon Philips), Joe Torre‘s lineup did exactly what it should against Puerto Rico – kept the line moving as another excellent hitter is always waiting in the on deck circle.

Torre re-inserted Giancarlo Stanton into the lineup and the young Marlins outfielder responded with two hits in his home ballpark. Not to mention showing a little local knowledge when ranging to make a difficult running catch in the outfield.

Announced at 32,872 so go ahead and do whatever math you think that number requires to approach reality. All in all, a great night for USA baseball in Miami. What might end up as the largest non-Opening Day crowd of the season at Marlins Park watched team USA quiet the doubters (for one day at least).


And the rest

The team from the Dominican Republic came back against the underdog Italians, scoring three runs in the seventh to take the game 5-4. Italian starter Tiago Da Silva pitched well but the Dominican offense was too much. Italy and Puerto Rico play tonight with the loser going home, the winner moves on to face the loser of the US/Domician game on Thursday. [WBC Game Wrap]

Speaking of exploitative ploys for Floridian tax payer money, the Toronto Blue Jays might move on from the only Spring Training home they’ve ever known, Dunedin, Florida. [DJF]

Speaking of aged Florida residents with ongoing health woes, Derek Sanderson Jeter is scheduled to make his first spring start at shortstop today! [New York Post]

A wise idea from Tom Tango – when it comes to projections, why not create an across-the-board baseline for league average performance? [The Book blog]

RIP ROY. A LIFE WELL LIVED. [High Cheese]

Rick Porcello looks like a brand new man. [Fangraphs]

Related: Jeff Sullivan is leaving Lookout Landing. Sad Marinerds weep softly. [Lookout Landing]

Awesome: nine Google Maps screenshots of baseball diamonds at famous American prisons. [Your boy @Briligerent]

Jackie Bradley – do it, Farrell! [Boston Herald]

El Oso Blanco continues to be DOB’s white whale [Free Gattis!]

Harry Pavlidis is a pitch f/x guru and all-around nice guy and, now, a Washington Post contributor on their Nationals beat. Hiring guys like Harry >>>>> outsourcing your sports coverage to Bleacher Report. [WaPo]

Brandon McCarthy, nerd god, talks intangibles and the value of leadership. [Arizona Republic]

Image couresty of The Roar 24