For all the handwringing over player health (and there was a lot of it after Sergio Romo threw 26 pitches one night and was asked to pitch again the next), the World Baseball Classic is great for the San Francisco Giants’ international marketing efforts. With eight different Giants playing in the WBC, their global brand can only be thriving these days — particularly in Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Mexico.
Team USA has two Giants, Ryan Vogelsong and Jeremy Affeldt, and they did both their country and their full-time employer proud on Saturday night. I was there, and while there weren’t a ton of fans in the stands, including none in the monstrous upper deck at Chase Field, the atmosphere was lively. Well, as lively as you can hope for when a game drags at times and takes 201 minutes to play.
The last time my wife and I watched Ryan Vogelsong as paying customers, it was Game 2 of the NLCS and we were sitting in the visiting family section down the right field line. Last night we found ourselves two rows in front of a spirited Nicole Vogelsong and behind several relatives/friends of Jimmy Rollins. “USA-USA-USA” chants were heard often, especially after David Wright’s grand slam, but it was kind of a nervous section over the first two innings.
Team USA needed to win in order to stay in the tournament, and Italy jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead. Vogelsong was fairly hittable early, although he was robbed of a scoreless second inning when both Rollins and Brandon Phillips had trouble handling the ball on what should have been an easy double play. But after the second Vogelsong settled down, including a dominant fourth inning where he struck out the side.
After allowing a single to start the fifth, Joe Torre brought in Jeremy Affeldt, who looked the same as he did during the 2012 postseason. After he stranded Vogelsong’s runner, Ross Detwiler of the Nationals came in and mowed down the Italians with ease over the last four innings, only giving up one hit and one walk.
Tonight the Americans face Team Canada to see who advances to Miami, and I’ll toss objectivity to the side and say I sure hope they do. I’d love to see Vogelsong and Affeldt pitch in the WBC again.