Wednesday, March 15, 2017

2017 World Baseball Classic: Puerto Rico Quiets Dominican Republic

From the desk of:  PLANET BASEBALL

Puerto Rico (1-0)
United States
Dominican R. (0-1)

Puerto Rico was runner up to Dominican Republic in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, and have been waiting to avenge that loss ever since.

On Tuesday, they finally did to the Dominican Republic what no other team has managed against them since the 2009 Classic - defeat them.  Dominican Republic previously ran the table during the aforementioned 2013 tournament, and entered Tuesday's game undefeated through three games of pool play.  But their 11-0 run met its end with Puerto Rico's 3-1 victory in the opener of Round Two play in San Diego.

Headlining Puerto Rico's evening was catcher Yadier Molina for his handling of Puerto Rico's pitching staff, for his defensive play, and for his contributions at the plate.

Puerto Rico escaped near disaster in the top of the first.  Jean Segura led off the game with a single, Manny Machado doubled, Robinson Cano drew a walk, and just like that, Dominican Republic had the bases loaded with no outs.  Puerto Rico starter Orlando Roman settled down to strike out Jose Bautista.  First baseman Carlos Santana then followed with a fly ball hit somewhat deeply to right. Eddie Rosario positioned himself for the catch, then fired home nailing Jean Segura attempting to tag from third on the play.

In the bottom half of the frame - you guessed it - Yadier Molina's RBI single staked Puerto Rico to a 1-0 lead.

With one out in the top of the second, Nelson Cruz - not so unexpectedly - tied the score with a home run to right/center.

Orlando Roman was relieved after a shaky start, allowing a run on three hits and two walks, with three strikeouts over 2.1 innings.  From then on, four Puerto Rico relievers combined to subdue Dominican Republic for the final 6.2 innings of the game.  Together, they allowed D.R. no runs on just three hits, with four walks and seven strikeouts.

Right fielder Eddie Rosario's double in the fourth scored Javier Baez from second for a 2-1 lead.  And Yadier Molina then capped off the scoring with a line drive home run into the left field corner, giving Puerto Rico a 3-1 lead, and final margin of victory.

Edwin Diaz pitched the ninth, fanning two for the save.

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