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On Wednesday evening in Dodger Stadium in front of over 51,000 fans, the United States defeated Puerto Rico by an 8-0 final to win the 2017 World Baseball Classic championship. 

Marcus Stroman was the star of the show, tossing six no-hit innings against a previously undefeated Puerto Rico squad  before being lifted following a leadoff double. Ian Kinsler and Brandon Crawford -- Team USA’s double-play combination -- both drove in a pair of runs apiece. 

Late in the game, the United States broke it wide open, thus securing their first WBC crown. Japan (twice) and the Dominican Republic were the tournament’s prior winners.

Here is what you need to know about the game:

It was the first WBC crown for the United States

The rare subplot that would’ve been a talking point even if Puerto Rico had won. That’s because neither team had claimed a WBC title. Wednesday changed all that for the United States.

Previously, Team USA’s best finish had been third place during the 2009 tournament. Early on in this WBC, it looked like the Americans were en route to another disappointing showing -- lest we forget that Colombia’s Jose Quintana carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the United States in their first game.

Yet the United States won that game, and later earned an advancement to the second round with a 2-1 record. The US would post the same record in the second round, then would top Japan in the semifinal to earn a crack at the championship -- everyone knows what happened there. But let’s dig in a little deeper.

Stroman came up HUGE for Team USA

Want one factoid that tells the tale of Marcus Stroman’s night? He kept the Puerto Rican team out of the hits column through six innings. Angel Pagan then led off the seventh with a double, ending Stroman’s night before he reached the pitch-count limit.

Stroman did a masterful job of keeping the ball down and therefore keeping the ball in the park. He finished the game with 11 groundouts to one flyout. He also struck out three batters, and issued just a single walk. Basically, Stroman more than atoned for his rough start last time out against Puerto Rico -- and did it on the tournament’s biggest possible stage.

Stroman knew it, too, showing emotion during his outing. Can’t say he didn’t earn the right. You wonder what Ian Kinsler thought about Stroman barking at the Puerto Rican dugout at least once throughout the game, particularly in light of Kinsler’s pregame comments about how Americans show passion in a different, supposedly superior way.

Ian Kinsler let his bat do the talking

Speaking of which ... before the game, Ian Kinsler grabbed attention with some questionable comments about how the night’s opponents play. Kinsler then opened the game by recording an out on the first pitch.

After that? Kinsler’s night got better. He’d hit a two-run home-run that put the United States up. Here’s a look-see at that:

Kinsler later added a hard-hit single while playing his typically strong defense. Overall, a good night within the lines, if not one outside of them.

Nolan Arenado continued to struggle

Meanwhile, Nolan Arenado’s struggles continued. He entered the game 3-for-26 with a tournament-high nine strikeouts. Things did not get better on Wednesday.

Sure, Arenado recorded a pair of knocks late in the game, but he looked absolutely lost at the plate, swinging through pitches and clearly pressing to make something happen. He even suffered the indignity of putting down a bunt as the cleanup hitter … only to have Puerto Rico throw out the lead runner. Yikes.

Arenado is normally one of the best players in baseball. Odds are, we won’t remember this slump in two weeks’ time. But sheesh. This was not the national coming-out party we all expected going in.

Puerto Rico’s manager made a mistake

Stroman’s gem rendered it moot, but Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodríguez messed up by leaving in a tiring Seth Lugo a little too long in the fifth inning.

Matt Snyder covered the nuts and bolts during the game, but long story short: the United States tacked on two insurance runs. Again, Stroman seemingly would’ve made a 2-0 lead hold up, and the US later turned the game into a boat race, but Rodriguez’s unwavering faith in Lugo didn’t help -- not on Wednesday night, anyway.

Puerto Rico ended tournament with best winning percentage

If there’s one thing Puerto Rico can hang their caps on -- besides causing a hair-dye shortage -- it’s that they had an impressive tournament.

Puerto Rico entered Wednesday night undefeated. They went 3-0 in both of the first two rounds, then edged the Netherlands in the first semifinal. Wednesday’s defeat dropped Puerto Rico to 7-1, the best winning percentage in the tournament. Comparatively, Japan went 6-1 and the United States went 6-2.

Unfortunately, for Puerto Rico, the tournament’s best winning percentage does not determine the champion. Still, they deserve credit for playing as well as a team can play without winning the title.

USA’s rotation led way

As for the champions, if you want to point to one reason why the Americans won the tournament, then point at their rotation. Stroman’s performance completed a tourney-long run of excellent starting pitching. Take a gander at this stat:

That’ll do. Yup, that’ll do.

Jim Leyland dedicated the win to the Armed Forces

This being Jim Leyland’s last game as a manager, you might think he’d dedicate the win to his friends, family, mentors, what have you. Nope. Leyland instead dedicated it to the Armed Forces:

Consider that a classy move by Leyland, who choked up while talking about the tournament.

Adam Jones says US inspired by Puerto Rico plans

Here’s what Jones said to MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger after the win:

GA: Was there something said before this game heading into the championship?
AJ: Should I tell the truth?
GA: Yes, tell the truth. We want to know.
AJ: Well, before the game, we got a note that there was some championship shirts made -- we didn’t make ‘em -- and a flight ... that didn’t sit well with us. And a parade. It didn’t sit well with us. So, we did what we had to do. Stroman went out there and gave us his all, the players they battled, the offense swung the bats, and we brought it home for the United States.

More on the flight/parade:

If that’s all you need to do to get Marcus Stroman to pitch like that, you can bet John Gibbons is already planning to leak rumors about flights, parades and shirts before every Stroman start this year.

It’s been a good day for USA Baseball -- and a better day for USA Baseball creating a stir with quotes about the Puerto Rican team. 

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