The World Baseball Classic has already reminded us not only how great it is for the sport, but how absolutely entertaining it is as well. The USA and Mexico sports rivalry was renewed once again Sunday night, as some of the biggest names from Major League Baseball were representing their countries in front of a jam-packed sellout crowd at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. But with all of the big named stars in the lineup, it was a 2022 rookie who was not on anybody's radar that stole the show.
Joey Meneses was a sensation after his long-awaited call up to the Major Leagues last August, but his legend may only just be beginning.
Joey Meneses took the baseball world by storm last night at the World Baseball Classic in Arizona, as he and Team Mexico upset defending champion Team USA. Meneses got the night going for Team Mexico with a first inning home run off of Nick Martinez of the San Diego Padres with one on and one out.
However, Meneses was not done. After electrifying the crowd with his first inning, two run shot, Joey Meneses had quite the encore performance in his third at bat. Facing Kansas City Royals' ace Brady Singer with 2 runners on and 2 outs in the 4th inning, Meneses etched his name into Team Mexico and World Baseball Classic history.
You know what is better than a two run home run? A three run home run.
Behind Meneses' two home runs, three hits and five RBIs, Team Mexico was able to upset Team USA in game 2 of Pool C play last night, improving to 1-1 in the World Baseball Classic after an opening night 5-4 loss to Columbia on Saturday night. Meneses' performance has importance beyond just the single game, as tie breakers have already come into play in this year's World Baseball Classic. Pool A had all 5 teams finish with a 2-2 record, kicking the second tie breaker into effect: fewest runs per defensive out recorded. Joey Meneses and Team Mexico gave themselves a nice cushion in a potential Pool C tie breaker with an 11 run effort last night. They will face Team Great Britain next on Tuesday night.
Team USA also falls to 1-1 after the loss. Outside of impressive opening performances from Nolan Arenado and Kyle Schwarber, the team USA offense has often looked weak through two games at the World Baseball Classic. They will look to get back on track tonight against Los Angeles Dodgers' First Baseman Freddie Freeman and Team Canada.
For Nationals fans, it has to feel good seeing our team representative steal the show and be one of the early storylines to the World Baseball Classic. Joey Meneses had a spectacular stretch in 2022 but has his fair share of skeptics heading into 2023, myself included. However, the early results indicate that us skeptics are wrong and Joey Meneses is in fact, the real deal. Nationals fans will be hoping Meneses can keep his hot bat going into the regular season once he rejoins the club following the conclusion of Team Mexico's run at the World Baseball Classic.
Check out the full schedule and results for the World Baseball Classic here.