"That's a pretty darn good lineup," said White Sox reliever Matt Thornton, who threw a scoreless fifth inning, following Gavin Floyd and Hector Santiago to the mound. "I'm not going to face a team like that any time soon, I'm sure."
"Down the line, it's just like every pitch you have to throw with conviction and make it your best pitch," said Santiago of facing the talented crew representing the United States in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Even with the top players strewn throughout the lineup, including Giancarlo Stanton, Shane Victorino and Ben Zobrist to finish off the starting nine, the White Sox hurlers managed to hold them under control until some of their younger players entered later in the game. Gavin Floyd made his first Cactus League start and gave up two hits and one walk over 2 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out three.
Floyd threw 50 pitches and 27 for strikes, but escaped a first-inning jam with runners on first and second and one out when Joe Mauer hit into a double play started by second baseman Gordon Beckham. With two out and two on in the second, Floyd struck out Ben Zobrist swinging with an offspeed offering.
"They have a great lineup. All these teams should have a great lineup," Floyd said. "I think it's going to be exciting for the WBC. Pitching against them in your first start you go ... not too many weak spots in that lineup.
"No matter who's in there, you try to keep it normal and make pitches. I knew the kind of lineup they have out there. Ultimately you try not to think about that. To be thrown in the mix that early, I kind of liked that. I like the challenge. You just try to ignore it."
Derek Holland, one of the members of the Rangers rotation, started for Team USA and gave up one run on four hits over three innings. He struck out three.
The White Sox added another run in the fourth off Luke Gregerson and two in the fifth against Tim Collins, with Conor Gillaspie doubling home a run and Paul Konerko singling home Gillaspie. Matt Zaleski, a White Sox Minor Leaguer who was serving as a Team USA extra on Tuesday, induced an inning-ending double play from usual teammate Hector Gimenez to end the threat.
Konerko finished with three hits on his birthday, while Beckham added three hits of his own. Stanton doubled home two of his three RBIs in the eighth. Braun topped Team USA's offense with three hits.
Team USA plays an exhibition game Thursday night against the Rockies and then begins World Baseball Classic competition in Pool D on Friday night against Mexico at Chase Field without Mark Teixeira, who will not participate because of a strained right wrist. Count the White Sox as one group which believes Team USA has a pretty good chance for success in the Classic.
"Every guy, all the way through the lineup, you have no weak spots," Santiago said. "You try to make your pitches and try to get them to put it in play and hope it's not a bad pitch they can hit out of the park.
"It's fun to go out there and play against MLB's best. Pretty much everyone is a star of their team."