Philadelphia Phillies superstar Trea Turner has done it again for Team USA. Turner hit his fourth home run in three games in the World Baseball Classic. His latest coming in the finals against Japan in the second inning.
Turner now has five home runs during the tournament, a World Baseball Classic.
It’s been an incredible run for Turner who has been, without a doubt, the MVP of the tournament so far.
In the span of two nights, Turner has turned into a home run machine, becoming the second player to complete a multi-homer game in World Baseball Classic history for Team USA (he joins Ken Griffey Jr., who did it first in 2006). During Saturday night’s quarterfinals, Turner hit a game-winning grand slam, cementing the team’s comeback win against Venezuela. Adding to his tally, Turner hit two more home runs on Sunday night against Cuba, helping Team USA secure a 14-2 victory to send them to the final.
The Philadelphia Phillies shortstop isn’t focused on breaking records, however. “I’m just trying to win with these guys,” he said during a press conference Sunday. “I think that’s why we are here. We don’t care who does what. We want to win. That stuff’s pretty cool. I always say that those individual things are for my family. I know they’re proud of me, and that stuff’s for them. But for me, I just like winning. I like playing baseball, competing and coming out on top.”
Known for his speed, Turner has been a standout in the MLB since he was drafted in 2014, but his turn on Team USA is cementing his place in baseball history books — and he still has another game to go.
The Americans are seeking their second consecutive WBC title. Japan, who has already ensured they’ll extend their unmatched streak of top-four finishes, won both the 2006 and 2009 tournaments. They came into Tuesday as the only nation with multiple titles.
The home run also gave Turner 11 RBIs in this WBC, third all-time behind the 13 that Masataka Yoshida of Japan had this year and the 12 that the Netherlands’ Wladimir Balentien totaled in 2017.
Turner’s power surge was one of the key catalysts for Team USA even as he hit mainly at the bottom of the USA order. His latest home run got the U.S. out to an early 1-0 lead against Japan.
Wanting to cancel an entire event because a high-profile player got hurt when it wasn’t even during a game seems like a major overreaction. I’m not even going to make the whole “the players care” or “fans of Puerto Rico were ecstatic” arguments or anything like that. Those aren’t really relevant in this discourse. It should be noted, however, that the players really do love it. I was in a clubhouse Thursday afternoon and a middle-of-the-order hitter was going off about how big of a deal the WBC is to people all over the world. His point, which he was making vehemently, was that it isn’t an event for Americans, but for the rest of the world. He was adamant that nearly every non-USA teammate he’s ever had thinks of the event as a huge deal. (He’s also the one that reminded me of the Mariano Rivera injury I referenced above.)
It’s a natural, human reaction every time some adversity happens in life to try and figure out a way from preventing it from ever happening again. I’d argue we do it far too often as a society, but, again, it’s understandable. That’s why it was so predictable to see a bunch of people saying the WBC shouldn’t exist and/or no players of value should ever take part in it. Sometimes in life, though, bad stuff just happens and we all need to just deal with it instead of trying to fix the unfixable. The WBC didn’t cause the Díaz injury any more than spring training caused every single injury we’ve already seen this past month.
If you want to argue the World Baseball Classic should go away, feel free, but a freak accident injury that happened after a game was over isn’t a great closing argument for me.
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