Mariners left-hander Drew Smyly started the United States' 4-2 victory against Venezuela on Wednesday night, and he was dominant. The 27-year-old struck out eight and walked none in 4 2/3 innings in the Pool F opener of the World Baseball Classic.
The last six outs Smyly recorded were strikeouts before he gave way to Rangers closer Sam Dyson. Smyly's final pitch, a fastball to strike out Carlos Gonzalez, was clocked at 94.4 mph. Smyly had never thrown a pitch that exceeded 93.96 mph (on April 24, 2015) in the Statcast™ era.
Smyly gave up one run, but it was unearned. He committed a throwing error to first base after fielding a Robinson Chirinos bunt in the third inning. That set up runners at second and third for Venezuela, and Ender Inciarte's sacrifice fly brought home Gonzalez for a 1-0 lead.
U.S. manager Jim Leyland went to his bullpen with two outs in the fifth, with Smyly at 61 pitches (44 strikes).
"This is the second round, and you're allowed 80 pitches, but Drew, where he's at in Spring Training, was not ready to throw anywhere near 80 pitches," Leyland said. "So we were going to throw him 60 to 65 at the most, and that's obviously why I took him out. We were talking to the Seattle organization. We knew that we were only going to get 60, 65 pitches out of him. We got  really good ones."
Smyly's performance extended a United States streak of starting pitchers not allowing an earned run in WBC 2017 to 17 1/3 innings. The Rays' Chris Archer (four innings), Blue Jays' Marcus Stroman (4 2/3 innings) and Royals' Danny Duffy (four innings) turned in strong performances for the U.S. during the first round.
Smyly, who was added to the U.S. roster for Round 2 in place of Duffy, posted a 4.88 ERA in 30 starts for the Rays last season. In 19 starts for Tampa Bay prior to that, the left-hander's ERA was 2.52.
The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games in San Diego's Petco Park and the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.