Archive for the 'Puerto Rico' Category

Caribbean Winter Baseball Update

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

The Cuban Naccional Series has begun the first half of their season with Pinar del Rio roaring to the top of the standings with 18 wins in their first 22 games. At the bottom of the pack is poor Guantanamo, who has won only five of 24 games. The first half of the season is 45 games with the top six teams advancing for the second half. There is a draft in which the best players from the teams that did not advance are added to the six teams playing in the second half.

It was supposed to be Venezuela to hold the Caribbean World Series next year, but because of the turmoil there it was decided to have Mexico host it. The games will begin February 2 and end February 8. The city of Zapopan in Jalisco, Mexico will host the Series. The games will be played at Estadio Charros, which hosted the second round of play of the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Seating will be expanded from 12,000 to 16,000. The stadium is the home park of the Jalisco Charros.

Cuba will again be invited to participate. The format will be the same as in previous years with the five teams from Venezuela, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico competing in a four game round robin schedule. The top four teams will advance to a single elimination four team tournament.

Venezuela will begin their winter league on October 10. The country has given the league $10 million from its foreign exchange reserves to buy equipment and pay for foreign players to fill out the rosters. It will be tough for Venezuela to attract name players for the regular season games but they might be able to add some players for the Series del Caribe.

The Cuban League started August 5. See above for details on their season. Many of their teams have been diluted by players leaving the island in their attempt to play in the major leagues.

Puerto Rico begins November 9. They have always had money issues trying to sustain the league. To decrease costs they will resort to more double headers. The league is also beginning one month later than the other winter leagues. One of their top franchises Santurce is under new ownership.

Dominican Republic starts their season October 13. They were embarrassed last year by their representative being eliminated early from the finals. The Dominican Republic is one of the stronger leagues and always a favorite to win the Series del Caribe.

The Mexican League begins October 10. This is also one of the stronger leagues, but they will be impacted by the Mexican summer league splitting their season in two with a summer and fall schedule. As a result the Mexican summer league will go into November. Many of the winter league players also play in the summer league. To alleviate the impact the Mexican winter league has expanded their foreign player roster to eight.

Puerto Rico, Mexico and London Possible for Major League Games

Friday, July 28th, 2017

The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was made public and it appears major league baseball will be very aggressive in playing games internationally to expand their brand.

For this year it appears they have a post season for Mexico or Asia. These would usually be exhibition games after the regular season has ended. Korea may be an interesting choice with their new ballpark and the increased number of players moving to the major leagues. The fact nothing has been announced makes me think this will not happen.

In 2018 a game is already planned for the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians to play in Puerto Rico in a two game series in April. Also on the schedule are spring training games to be played in Mexico and an opening day for Asia. Mexico is also scheduled to have regular season games in May. At the end of the season a post season series is scheduled for Japan. Dominican Republic is listed for regular season games with Puerto Rico but myworld suspects that will be saved for 2019.

The 2019 season could see exhibition games in Mexico, Puerto Rico and/or the Dominican Republic. They also have an opening day for Japan. A couple years ago this consisted of exhibition games between the Japanese teams and the major league teams followed by a two game major league series. Shohei Otani could make his return to Japan if he signs with a major league club in 2018. Mexico and the United Kingdom are scheduled for major league games, but myworld suspects the London series will be in 2020. A post season series lists Mexico or Asia.

The 2020 season lists Mexico for an exhibition match with Asia schedule for an opening series. Major league baseball has always wanted to expose their game to China and this could be the opportunity. The real challenge would be to find a stadium large enough to have the series. The Olympic venue has been torn down for a shopping mall. Mexico, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom and Dominican Republic are listed for major league games. Japan has another post season exhibition series scheduled.

The 2021 season only shows regular season games for Mexico.

The fact these games are listed does not mean they will be played. If the Collective Bargaining Agreement did not list the games then major league baseball would have to negotiate outside the CBA with the players union to get these games played, an arduous process. It will be interesting to see what games they try to put into place.

Myworld would like to see Netherlands selected as a place to play a major league series. Unfortunately, the major leagues is a bit greedy and are always looking for large market places to brand their product. The Netherlands is not a large market.

Future Games Rosters Selected

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

The futures game is played before the All Star team and features the best prospects outside of the United States against the best prospects inside the United States. The game is scheduled for July 9. Below are the rosters of the two teams.

World Team

Pitchers

Domingo Acevedo (Dom Rep/Yankees), Yadier Alvarez (Cuba/Dodgers), Jaime Barria (Panama/Angels), Luis Escobar (Colombia/Pirates), Tayron Guerrero (Colombia/Marlins), Jonathan Hernandez (Dominican Republic/Rangers), Jairo Labourt (Dom Rep/Tigers), Cal Quantrill (Canada/Padres), Mike Soroka (Canada/Braves), Thyago Vieira (Brazil/Mariners)

Catchers

Tomas Nido (Puerto Rico/Mets), Francisco Mejia (Dom Rep/Indians)

Infielders

Yordan Alvarez (Cuba/Astros), Josh Naylor (Canada/Padres), Yoan Moncada (Cuba/White Sox), Mauricio Dubon (Honduras/Brewers), Lucius Fox (Bahamas/Rays), Ahmed Rosario (Dom Rep/Mets), Rafael Devers (Dom Rep/Red Sox), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Dom Rep/Blue Jays)

Outfielders

Ronald Acuna (Venezuela/Braves), Estevan Florial (Haiti/Yankees), Eloy Jimenez (Dom Rep/Cubs), Victor Robles (Dom Rep/Nationals), Alex Verdugo (Mexico/Dodgers)

United States team

Beau Burrows (Tigers), Jon Duplantier (Diamondbacks), Jack Flaherty (Cardinals), Foster Griffen (Royals), Jimmy Hegert (Reds), Brent Honeywell (Rays), Michael Kopech (White Sox), Triston McKenzie (Indians), A.J. Puk (Athletics), Tanner Scott (Orioles)

Catcher

Zack Collins (White Sox), Chance Sisco (Orioles)

Infielders

Rhys Hoskins (Phillies), Ryan McMahon (2B/3B) Rockies, Scott Kingery (Phillies), Bo Bichette (Blue Jays/Brazil), Nick Gordon (Twins), Brendan Rodgers (Rockies), Brian Anderson (Marlins), Nick Senzel (Reds)

Outfielders

Lewis Brinson (Twins), Derek Fisher (Astros), Corey Ray (Brewers), Bryan Reynolds (Giants), Kyle Tucker (Astros)

Top Puerto Rican Prospects

Monday, May 1st, 2017

Last year’s top ten found four players make the major leagues, playing enough games to make them ineligible for the 2017 list. The top prospect on the list Jose Berrios saw a season of struggles for his 14 major league starts. Steven Moya, who was born in Puerto Rico but grew up in the Dominican Republic saw significant time with the Tigers last year but was removed from the 40 man roster after running out of options and failing to make the major league team out of spring training. Edwin Diaz got inserted as the closer for the Mariners. He was number seven on the list. Yadiel Rivera was the number 10 player and played in a utility role for the Brewers, hitting just .200. With four players no longer eligible for the top ten some new players have come along to replace them.

1. Jose Deleon RHP (Rays) - Another Jose sits atop the top ten. The Dodgers originally drafted him in the 24th round of the 2013 draft but traded him to the Rays this year for Logan Forsythe. Not a lot was thought of Deleon when he was drafted but his fastball ticked up to the low 90s with lots of movement and his change is superb. The swings and misses come in bunches in the minor leagues at 12.1 whiffs per nine innings. When promoted to the Dodgers for four starts the whiffs were not as prevalent (7.9). Deleon had a rough spring, complained of arm discomfort and was placed on the disabled list to start the season. He should pitch soon and if he finds success will not see a lot of time in the minor leagues before reaching the Rays rotation.

2. Delvin Perez SS (Cardinals) - A 2016 first round pick of the Cardinals, he was supposed to go higher in the draft but a performance enhancing drug finding dropped him in the draft. Many compare him to Carlos Correa but with a little less power but more speed. Last year he showed some inconsistency as shortstop with 17 errors in 40 games. The bat was solid with a .294 average and he was 12 for 13 in stolen bases. Delvin will start the season in extended spring training and may get an opportunity to play in Low A before the rookie season starts.

3. Isan Diaz SS (Brewers) - Many feel Isan will eventually move to second base once he shows he lacks the range to play shortstop at the higher levels. He has played a little of both to begin the 2017 season. His bat will get him to the major leagues. The 2015 season was his breakout season when his OPS was an astounding 1.076 in the Rookie league. Last year he slugged 34 doubles with 20 homeruns for a .469 slugging average. Speed and defense are not his game. His bat will get him to the major leagues.

4. Joe Jimenez RHP (Tigers) - The Tigers are looking for a closer and have promoted Joe a couple times to fill a relief role. He is a bit too green to give him the closer job and his success has been spotty (12.46 ERA). On the bright side he has yet to give up a run in five Triple A appearances, striking out 10 hitters in five innings. His fastball is not the overpowering pitch many like to see in a closer and his slider is a bit inconsistent. His career with the Tigers has been in the bullpen so he has not had a need to develop a third pitch. When pitching in the minor leagues he has not given up more than two homers in a season. In his two call ups this year with the Tigers he has coughed up two homeruns in less than five innings.

5. Jorge Lopez RHP (Brewers) - Jorge struggled last year in AAA (6.81 ERA) which got him a demotion to AA. If he had seen some success he would have seen some time with the Brewers and not have been eligible for this list. A good winter in the Puerto Rican Winter League brings high hopes he has his stuff back. He was a second round pick in 2011. His fastball is not overpowering but his curveball is his swing and miss pitch. Last year in Colorado Springs he could not find command in the pitch walking 55 in 79 innings. A Demotion to AA reduced the walks. The Brewers have started his 2017 season at AA where in five starts he has a 1.73 ERA with a .189 opposition average. The Brewers may just keep him there before a promotion to their major league team rather than promote him to Colorado Springs where his curveball struggles to find its break.

6. Tomas Nido C (Mets) - He will not have Puerto Ricans forget Yadier Molina, but he could get backup opportunities at the major league level. His defense is solid but it was his bat that broke out last year to put him on the prospect map, hitting .320 with a .459 slugging average. The Mets have promoted him to AA and his hitting has struggled early in the season (.196). He has also only thrown out two of the 15 runners who have attempted to steal off him. Last year Nido had a 42 percent success rate. His best hope for a major league career is as a back up catcher.

7. Rio Ruiz 3B (Braves) - Rio was a fourth round pick in the 2012 draft but the Astros paid him a big bonus. They traded him to the Braves in 2015 for Evan Gattis. Expectations have lowered for Rio as his power has struggled to emerge. Last year he slugged .400 which was an improvement over the .324 slugging average in 2015. His defense is above average but the power needs to show if he wants to make it with the Braves. Last year he got a September call up for 7 at bats. He repeats AAA and could be the first player the Braves call on if they need a third baseman.

8. Jose Miranda 2B/SS (Twins) - Jose was taken in the second round supplemental of the 2016 draft. He doesn’t have the arm or the range to play shortstop and a move to second is expected. The Twins hope his bat will play which would open up a move to third. Last year he only hit .227 with a .292 slugging in his debut professional season at rookie ball. This year he starts the season in extended spring training waiting for the rookie season to begin so he can show the Twins his bat is alive.

9. Roy Morales C (Marlins) - Puerto Rico has a habit of developing catchers and from the defensive side Roy has all the tools. His arm is strong and he blocks pitches well. The Marlins drafted him in the 12th round of the 2014 draft. His bat is a bit soft and his speed is non-existent. He does make good contact with a 46/45 walk to whiff ratio. The Marlins have considered moving him to the mound if his bat does not come to life. In nine games this year Roy has hit .379 with a 5/2 walk to whiff ratio. Only one of his 11 hits has gone for extra bases.

10. Victor Caratini C/1B (Cubs) - It will be tough for Victor to find time behind the plate with Wilson Contreras the starter there. Victor was originally drafted by the Braves in the second round of the 2013 draft. They traded him to the Cubs for Emilio Bonafacio. The tools are lacking to make it as a catcher, with a below average arm his biggest weakness to overcome. He does have some pop in the bat but that has yet to show in games. The early AAA season has seen him bounce around between first base and catcher. He has started the season with a .312 average with 16 RBIs in 20 games but only seven of his 24 hits have gone for extra bases.

2016 top ten Puerto Rican Prospects

Japan Retains Number One World Ranking

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Despite the United States first place finish in the World Baseball Classic tournament this month Japan has retained the number one ranking thanks to their third place finish. Over the course of the voting the United States has won four tournaments to one for Japan in tournaments both teams have competed in. Where Japan jumps ahead of the United States is their two championships that the United States chose not to enter.

Below is the top 12 teams and their points accumulated in parenthesis.

1. Japan (5699)
2. United States (5378)
3. South Korea (4789)
4. Taiwan (3901)
5. Cuba (3737)
6. Mexico (2961)
7. Venezuela (2804)
8. Australia (2433)
9. Netherlands (2071)
10. Canada (2020)
11. Puerto Rico (1759)
12. Italy 1708

You can see the complete list by going to World rankings

United States Pummells Puerto Rico for WBC Championship

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Marcus Stroman had a choice. His mother was born in Puerto Rico so he could have played for the United States team or the Puerto Rican team. He chose the United States team. His mother supported his choice using social media as a venue to announce her support. She was quite disappointed with the vulgar comments she got from Puerto Ricans criticizing her for supporting her son’s choice.

The first time Stroman faced Puerto Rico he gave up hits to the first six hitters in the lineup to fall behind 4-0. He took the loss with Puerto Rico defeating the United States team 6-5. The second outing was much different. He did not give up a hit the second time he faced the Puerto Ricans until Angel Pagan led off the seventh inning with a double. By then the United States had a 7-0 lead. Sam Dyson came on to replace Marcus Stroman and as Marcus came off the mound he was very animated, pounding his chest. Could it have been vindication for all the vulgar comments his mother received for supporting her son? Whatever it was, he was voted the MVP of the tournament as the United States went on to beat Puerto Rico 8-0 to win the championship.

Dusty Baker was also a bit critical of the paucity of at bats Jim Leyland was giving his second baseman Daniel Murphy. He thought it would have been better for Murphy to stay with the Nationals to get his at bats. Leyland stuck with Ian Kinsler at second base for the championship game. Kinsler came through for Leyland in the third inning, following a Jonathan Lucroy single with a two run homerun into center, just above the leaping grasp Enrique “Kiki” Hernandez to give the United States an early 2-0 lead.

Kinsler helped add on to that lead in the fifth with a lead off single. Adam Jones drew a walk. Christian Yelich has been getting a number of critical hits this tournament and he added to the list with a single into right field that scored Kinsler. Joe Jimenez came on to replace Seth Lugo. Andrew McCutchen tacked on another run with a two out infield single that scored Christian Yelich to give the United States a 4-0 lead.

Puerto Rico could do nothing against Marcus Stroman. They had a leadoff walk to Carlos Beltran in the second inning but he was quickly erased on a double play hit by Yadier Molina. Other than that Stroman retired the Puerto Ricans in order in every inning through the sixth, facing the minimum 18 hitters. His pitch count was at less than 70 so if he continued to retire the hitters in order he may have come close to his 95 pitch count. Only one no hitter has been thrown in the WBC and that was by Shairon Martis pitching for the Netherlands in a game called after seven innings because of the slaughter rule.

Stroman wasn’t really needed to pitch anymore after giving up the leadoff double to Pagan. The United States had erupted for three runs in the top of the seventh inning and had taken a commanding 7-0 lead. They scored all their runs after the first two hitters had been retired. Nolan Arenado, who had struck out in all four of his at bats yesterday and his first two at bats in this game, came through with a single. Eric Hosmer was hit by a pitch and Andrew Mucutchen walked to load the bases. J.C. Romero replaced Jose Berrios on the mound. He could not stop the bleeding with Brandon Crawford ripping a two run single to center field. Giancarlo Stanton ended the scoring with a RBI single off Hiram Burgos.

The United States again scored one more run after the first two hitters were retired in the eighth. Nolan Arenado, Eric Hosmer and Andrew McCutchen all ripped singles to increase the carnage to 8-0.

The United States bullpen kept the Puerto Ricans scoreless through the last three innings, giving up just two more hits, Angel Pagan getting two of the three Puerto Rican hits in the game. The attendance for the game was 51,565 with many of them draping American flags over their shoulders and chanting “U-S-A” throughout the game. It appears the WBC has finally gotten an audience.

It was not easy for the United States to win the championship. On their path to glory they had to beat the defending champions the Dominican Republic to escape from their pool and qualify for the final four. They then had to beat an undefeated two time champion Japanese team to advance to the finals, a Japanese team that had previously beaten the United States in a final four back in 2006. Finally, they had to beat an undefeated Puerto Rican team to win the championship, a team that had beaten them earlier in pool play and a team who seemed destined the championship was theirs to take.

For Puerto Rico it was their second loss in the finals of the WBC. This team was more talented than the underdogs that appeared in the finals in 2013. It is a young team that should be geared to battle in the next WBC in 2021.

Another Thriller in WBC; United States Prevails Over Japan

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Another one run ball game. In a previous final four Japan had beaten the United States 9-4 on their way to their first WBC championship back in 2006. The faces have changed in 2013 but this time the United States wins 2-1. A ground ball out to third scored the winning run in the top of the eighth inning. The United States will now face Puerto Rico for the WBC championship. This is the farthest the United States has gone in a WBC event. The undefeated Puerto Ricans lost in the finals in 2013 to the Dominican Republic.

Both starting pitchers were excellent. Tanner Roark went four innings allowing just two hits. The Japanese could only get four hits against the United States pitching staff. Tomoyuki Sugano went six innings and allowed just three hits. An uncharacteristic error by Japan allowed an unearned run to score in the fourth that proved to be the difference in the game.

Ryosuke Kikuchi booted a Christian Yelich grounder with one out in the fourth inning to help the United States score their first run. After Nolan Arenado struck out Eric Hosmer coaxed a walk. Andrew McCutchen bounced a single into left field to score Yelich with the first run of the game.

After Tanner Roark cruised through the first four innings Nate Jones came on to start the fifth. Ryosuke Kikuchi balanced the books for his error with one out in the sixth by roping a ball over the center field fence for a homerun to tie the game 1-1. Andrew Miller came on to replace Nate Jones after the homerun. He walked the first hitter he faced but retired the next two hitters on a strikeout and pop up to end the inning. Miller has been struggling in this tournament so it was good to see him keep the game tied.

In the eighth a one out single by Brandon Crawford got the final United States rally started. Ian Kinsler doubled to put Crawford on third. With one out Japan chose to play the infield deep and Adam Jones grounded to third. Crawford broke for the plate and Nobuhiro Matsuda chose to make the out at first after bobbling the ball, giving the United States a 2-1 lead. If not for the bobble Matsuda may still have been able to get Crawford out at home.

Japan got a leadoff single from Seiichi Uchikawa in the eighth. A bunt moved pinch runner Kosuke Tanaka to second. Tetsuto Yamada bunted the ball, a player capable of hitting 30 plus homeruns. Mark Melancon struck out Kikuchi for the second out. A walk to Norichika Aoki brought in Sam Dyson to face Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh, who brought a charge to the crowd when he lined hard to right field, but Andrew McCutchen was able to track the ball for the third out.

Luke Gregerson retired the Japanese in order in the ninth to pick up the save to the delight of the 33,462 in attendance. Marcus Stroman will get the start for the United States. He will pitch against Seth Lugo, representing Puerto Rico. Stroman’s last start he gave up six consecutive hits to open the game against Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Books Second Trip to the Finals

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

It took 11 innings and the initiation of the international rule of putting runners on first and second with no outs but Puerto Rico finally won the semi-final game 4-3. A crowd of 24,865 watched as the Netherlands failed to score in the top of the 11th, Curt Smith grounding into a bases loaded double play. Puerto Rico pulled the same strategy with a bunt moving the runners over. The Netherlands Loek Van Mil walked Javier Baez to load the bases but Eddie Rosario lifted a line drive fly ball deep enough into centerfield to score Carlos Correa with the winning run, the throw Profar just a little off line.

It was an epic battle between two talented teams. Both scored in the first but for the Netherlands it could have been so much more. Yadier Molina made his arm known after a single by Andrelton Simmons and a hit by pitch to Xander Bogaerts put runners on first and second with no out. Yadier caught Andrelton leaning too far off second and picked him off. Jurickson Profar followed with a single advancing Bogaerts to third. Jurickson Profar was picked off at first when the throw after the single went to Yadier Molina who threw to T.j. Rivera to nail Profar for the second out. When Wladimir Balentien slugged a homer into centerfield to make it 2-0 the Netherlands thought they should have had so much more to the inning.

Puerto Rico climbed back to tie the game 2-2 in the bottom half. Francisco Lindor doubled with Carlos Correa following with a homerun into centerfield. A Carlos Beltran single was proved null and void after Yadier Molina grounded into a double play to end the inning.

T.J. Rivera went deep in the bottom of the second inning to give Puerto Rico a 3-2 lead. That would be the extent of the Puerto Rican offense until the 11th. Jair Jurrjens replaced Rick VanDen Hurk in the third and the Netherlands bullpen quieted the Puerto Rican bats.

Puerto Rico was able to put runners on second and third with just one out in the third. Stolen bases by Javier Baez and Eddie Rosario taking advantage of the Netherlands battery. T.J. Rivera popped out and Reymond Fuentes grounded out to end the threat.

The Netherlands scored again in the fifth to tie the game at 3-3 but had another runner thrown out at the bases. A double by Wladimir Balentien and an intentional walk to Jonathan Schoop put runners on first and second with two out. Shawn Zarraga lined a double to left field scoring Balentien, but Jonathan Schoop was thrown out at home by a throw from Angel Pagan to Javier Baez to Yadier Molina for the last out of the inning.

Edwin Diaz pitched the last two innings to get the win. He struck out the side in the tenth inning. Puerto Rico turned four double plays, all of them in the seventh inning or after. The only time Puerto Rico did not turn a double play after the seventh inning was in the tenth inning when Edwin Diaz struck out the side. The Netherlands turned three double plays.

Eddie Rosario has been making a name for himself in these games, throwing out base runners and getting key hits for the undefeated Puerto Rican team. They now wait to see who wins the battle between the United States and Japan, playing the winner for the WBC championship.

United States Knocks Out Dominican Republic

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

The United States will be the new kid on the block in the 2017 final four of the World Baseball Classic. In 2013 Japan, Netherlands and Puerto Rico appeared in the final four with the eventual champions the Dominican Republic. The United States eliminated the defending champions and will join the final four party, facing off against two time champions Japan. A Giancarlo Stanton two run homer in the fourth broke a 2-2 tie and propelled the United States to a 6-3 win.

It didn’t start out well for the United States. It almost reminded the sellout 43,002 in attendance of the game against Puerto Rico when six straight hits to begin the game proved fatal to the United States team. An error by the gold glover shortstop Brandon Crawford got the inning started for the Dominicans. Robinson Cano followed with a double to score Manny Machado. A strikeout of Nelson Cruz got past the catcher to put runners on first and third with one out. Carlos Santana singled to make it 2-0 with Cruz advancing to third. It appeared the United States was on the verge of collapse again, digging themselves a big hole to start the game.

Starling Marte grounded a ball to Barandon Crawford at short. Nelson Cruz broke for home. The throw beat Cruz to the plate and the whole complexion of the game seemed to change after that. Adrian Beltre grounded out and the United States got out of the inning trailing only 2-0.

The Dominicans looked like they were going to score again in the second. Gregory Polanco started the inning with a single. Wellington Castillo followed with a double to put runners on second and third with no outs. Danny Duffy bore down, getting Jose Reyes to pop out. Manny Machado flied out to Adam Jones in center, too shallow to score Polanco (read further to read about a longer fly out hit by Machado to Jones). Robinson Cano hit a hard grounder to Brandon Crawford at short, who made the play to get out of the inning with no runs.

The United States bounced back in the third, Giancarlo Stanton getting the inning started with a single. Jonathan Lucroy moved Stanton to third with a single. Ian Kinsler grounded to short, Reyes going for two but falling short with Stanton scoring on the play. With two outs Christian Yelich laced a double into center to score Kinsler and tie the game 2-2.

The fourth was reserved for the Giancarlo Stanton two out two run homer. Brandon Crawford got the inning started with a two out single. That was it for Ervin Santana, replaced by Hector Neris to get the last out of the inning.

The Dominicans failed at another opportunity to score a run in the fifth. A leadoff single by Manny Machado ended the day for Danny Duffy. A one out double by Nelson Cruz to left field put runners on second and third with just one out. Again the Dominicans failed to score with Pat Neshek getting Carlos Santana to pop out and Starling Marte to strike out.

The Dominicans pulled to within one in the seventh after a Robinson Cano solo homer with one out. Read further for the hit that occurred earlier that created the one out.

The United States took advantage of the wildness of Alex Colome in the eighth. Christian Yelich walked and Eric Hosmer was hit by a pitch. Andrew McCutchen made that wildness pay with a big double into center field to score two runs and give the United States a 6-3 lead.

The Dominicans were deflated after that. The United States retired the Dominicans in order in the eighth and ninth innings to get the victory, Sam Dyson and Luke Gregerson doing the honors. Dyson also got the last two outs of the seventh after the Robinson Cano homer off Tyler Clippard.

Adam Jones perhaps made the catch of a lifetime in the seventh inning prior to the Cano homerun. Jones teammate Manny Machado led off the seventh mashing a ball that appeared to be clearly going over the fence. Jones never gave up racing back, jumping high and reaching his glove over the short fence to rob Machado of a homerun and robbing a fan of a souvenir. The fans erupted in cheers after the catch, many staring in disbelief. All Machado could do is tip his cap to Jones for the catch. He has seen him do that many times before while in an Orioles uniform. This time it was in a uniform that stated “USA”. Tyler Clippard could be seen mouthing from his lips “Oh my God”. It certainly defined what these games are all about. A collection of All Stars or semi All Stars making tremendous plays in the game.

Puerto Rico 13 Venezuela 2

In a game that didn’t mean much since Puerto Rico had clinched their final four advancement and Venezuela was eliminated, Puerto Rico thrashed the Venezuelans with 17 hits. Most of the damage was done in the later innings, when Venezuela went to its thin bullpen. Puerto Rico scored in every inning after the fifth, turning a 2-0 game into a rout.

The still unsigned Angel Pagan racked up three hits from the leadoff spot and Mike Aviles strung together four hits. Kennys Vargas closed out the scoring by slugging a two run homer in the ninth. Jose Deleon worked two outs into the third leaving Venezuela scoreless. Puerto Rico turned to what has turned into a very stingy bullpen to close out the game.

The semifinals begin Monday with the Netherlands doing battle with Puerto Rico. Both teams rely on young infielders to lead their teams. For the Netherlands it is Jonathan Schoop, Xander Bogaerts, Jurickson Profar (playing the outfield), Didi Gregorius and Andrelton Simmons. Puerto Rico relies on Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez.

On Tuesday the two traditional baseball powers Japan and the United States do battle. Both teams have a solid veteran presence, but Japan has some youth in Tetsuto Yamada and Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh who have carried the team offensively.

The fun that has defined the World Baseball Classic will continue for a few more days.

Puerto Rico Stings United States; Clinches Final Four Appearance

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Puerto Rico rode a big four run first inning and made it stand to upset the United States 6-5. Marcus Stroman was not sharp as he gave up hits to the first six hitters he faced. If not for a flyout double play where Christian Yelich threw out Yadier Molina at third the inning could have been much worse. Carlos Beltran still scored the fourth run on the play to give Puerto Rico an early 4-0 lead.

The United States tried to peck away at the lead. A Nolan Arenado leadoff double and Eric Hosmer single in the second inning scored one run. Buster Posey walked to put two runners on but Daniel Murphy grounded into 1-6-3 double play. With a runner on third and two out Brandon Crawford grounded to second.

Marcus Stroman settled down after the first inning and pitched into the fifth when two out back to back singles resulted in his departure. Buster Posey had hit a solo shot in the top of the fifth to pull the United States to within 4-2. With two outs and two runners on Mychal Givens retired Yadier Molina on a fly out to keep the score at 4-2.

Andrew McCutchen got a little heated in the top of the sixth after a strike three call and was ejected from the game. Adam Jones followed with a solo homer to pull the United States to within one run. There were chants of U-S-A echoing in the background with the crowd smelling victory.

It was not to be. In the bottom of the sixth the Puerto Ricans won the game, scoring two runs without benefit of a hit. Javier Baez was hit by a pitch to start the inning. He stole second and Andrew Miller replaced Givens. Eddie Rosario walked. After a T.J. Rivera strikeout Puerto Rico pulled a double steal to put runners on second and third with one out. Miller was still able to strike out pinch hitter Enrique Hernandez for the second out. Angel Pagan grounded to Nolan Arenado at third for what appeared to be the third out but Arenado threw the ball away, allowing two runs to score. Puerto Rico had the lead back 6-3.

The United States rallied in the ninth falling 90 feet short of tying the game. Edwin Diaz began the inning by walking Nolan Arenado and giving up a single to Eric Hosmer putting runners on first and second with no out. Buster Posey struck out but a wild pitch moved the runners up one base. Paul Goldschmidt also struck out. Brandon Crawford put a charge into the crowd with a triple to left field. Edwin Diaz bore down and struck out Josh Harrison to end the game.

There were 32,463, the largest crowd at Petco Park for a WBC game. The win clinched a spot for Puerto Rico in the final four. Who goes with them to Los Angeles will depend on the winner of the United States and Dominican Republic game. A win by the Dominican Republic would make it a repeat of the final four from the 2013 World Baseball Classic. The Dominican Republic made a nice come back to win an exciting 6-5 game in the first round. They hope to repeat those efforts tonight to advance.