All eyes were on Patrick Sandoval as he was the starting pitcher for Team Mexico against Mike Trout and Team USA at Chase Field in the World Baseball Classic. Team USA already showed the Angels what they were capable of with a blowout victory in an exhibition game. They then proceeded to win their first WBC game handily.
Sandoval's task was tough. Prime time against a lineup full of the game's best players. The NL batting champion, Jeff McNeil, was batting ninth! The NL home run king, Kyle Schwarber, didn't even start.
Despite what felt like all of the odds being stacked against him, Sandoval came up clutch for his country on the big stage.
Sandoval impresses in WBC matchup vs. Mike Trout, Team USA
Sandoval was given a 2-0 lead before stepping foot on the mound last night, but was tasked with facing what might be the best top-four the WBC has ever seen. Mookie Betts flew out, Mike Trout then struck out in what was a long at-bat. A walk to Paul Goldschmidt did not rattle Sandoval, as he got Nolan Arenado to pop out and end the inning.
The southpaw allowed two hits in the second including a triple to Kyle Tucker who scored on an RBI single off the bat of Tim Anderson to plate the first and only run USA would score against him.
Sandoval walked Trout in the fourth but got Betts before him, and Goldschmidt and Arenado after him. Sandoval completed three innings against this vaunted USA lineup and allowed one run on two hits with two strikeouts.
I get that the game means nothing for the Angels, but if this didn't give you some excitement about the pitcher Patrick Sandoval is developing into, I don't know what will. Limiting the damage against this lineup full of all-stars even in just three innings is quite impressive.
Sandoval is starting the second game of the season and the home opener as well. Watching him last night made me very excited about those two games.