Archive for the 'Puerto Rico' Category

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.

Japan/Netherlands Advance to Final Four; Puerto Rico Upsets Dominican

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

The Netherlands left no doubt who had the superior team in their game against Cuba. They were up 12-0 after four and only needed seven innings to embarrass a once proud Cuban team 14-1 to advance to the final four. Twenty years ago those were scores the Cubans were putting up on the Netherlands in their games.

Wladimir Balentien hit two homeruns early, a three run shot in the first and a solo shot in the third to put a hurting on the Cuban pitchers. Yurendell DeCaster also homered in the third, a two run shot and contributed four RBIs in the game. He also lined a two run single in the five run fifth to put a dagger in the Cuban spirits to compete in this game. Kalian Sams finished off the scoring with a solo shot in the seventh and final inning.

The Cuban bats could not mount much of an offense against Diegomar Markwell, scoring just once against him in his six innings of work. That one score occurred after they were down 13-0. It didn’t matter who the Cubans trotted out to the mound. The Netherlands treated them all as if they were batting practice pitchers. Lazaro Blanco got the start and did not last two innings, giving up four runs. Vladimir Garcia could not last two inning before giving up five runs. Leandro Martinez, a 38 year old who would not have made a Cuban national team in the past, threw the best with three innings of mopup, allowing just two runs.

The crowd was listed at 40,680.

Japan 8 Israel 3

Japan ended a nice run by Israel with their 8-3 win, eliminating them from the final four. It was a pitcher’s duel for the first five innings with closer Josh Zeid getting the start and shutting out the Japanese bats for four innings. Israel just does not have enough depth in its pitching staff to keep the Samurai bats down for a full game. In the sixth Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh woke the bats up by leading off the inning with a homerun. Before the inning was complete four more runs had scored.

Dylan Axelrod replaced Josh Zeid and retired the side in order in the fifth. In the sixth he was not so fortunate, giving up two hits and a walk for three runs. His replacements were also ineffective and when the sixth inning was done you could put a fork in the game. Japan had a 5-0 lead.

The Israeli bats had trouble hitting Kodai Senga, producing a leadoff single from Sam Fuld in the first. After the leadoff single the Israelis could muster no more hits when Senga finished his outing after the fifth inning.

Japan put the game away in the eighth with three runs, Seiichi Uchikawa roping a two run double and Nobuhiro Matsuda tacking on one more run with a single.

Israel finally strung an offense together in the ninth with a walk and two singles off Kazuhisa Makita to score their first run, an Ike Davis single driving in the run. Ryan Lavarnway hit a two run double to pull Israel to 8-3, but that was as far as they were going to get. The good news for Israel is they get an automatic bid to play in the next WBC, not having to qualify as they did this year.

There were 43,179 who attended this game, much of the crowd already purchasing tickets for the Netherlands/Cuba game which counted against this attendance.

Puerto Rico 3 Dominican Republic 1

The Puerto Ricans proved the Dominicans could be beaten. Now the Dominicans have to sweep the United States and Venezuela to get to the final four. The bullpen of Hector Santiago, Joe Jimenez, Joseph Colon and Edwin Diaz quieted the Dominican bats to three hits in the last 6.2 innings. The momentum shifter may have been when right fielder Eddie Rosario threw out Jean Segura at home in the first to end a potential Dominican rally with zero runs. In the bottom of the first Puerto Rico used a couple walks and a Yadier Molina single to give them a 1-0 lead.

The Dominicans did not have the same fans in San Diego that they had in Miami. It was less of a home game for them. Nelson Cruz hit a leadoff homer in the second, but the crowd roar for the homer was not as loud as it was for his three run shot against the United States. The Dominicans play on emotion and the emotion was absent.

In the fourth Puerto Rico took the lead taking advantage of a throwing error by Adrian Beltre to allow Javier Baez to reach second. Eddie Rosario bounced a ball over the right field fence to give Puerto Rico a 2-1 lead.

The Dominicans never really threatened after the solo homer from Cruz in the second. They got runners to second but that was the extent of their threats. Yadier Molina led off the sixth with a solo shot to give Puerto Rico a little cushion that they did a much better job of protecting that the United States bullpen.

Of course the crowd was much quieter than in Miami. Tony Pena tried to motivate his team by getting tossed in the eighth. Nelson Cruz walked and with Adrian Beltre at the plate Cruz broke for second against Yadier Molina. He was thrown out to end the inning. Edwin Diaz mowed through the Dominican lineup in the ninth to pick up the save.

Only 16,637 attended the game at Petco Park in San Diego, a far cry from the 30,000 plus who showed up in Miami to support the Dominicans there.

Extra Innings Galore in WBC; United States Advances

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Japan and the Netherlands were the first team to play past the tenth inning to initiate the extra inning rule. Japan pulled off a successful bunt followed by a two run single from Sho Nakata to give Japan an 8-6 lead. The Netherlands chose to have Jurickson Profar swing away and he popped to first. With no runners in scoring position Xander Boegerts grounded out and Kalian Sams popped out to end the game.

The two battled it out like punch drunk boxers with both teams scoring a run in the second and four runs in the third. Jonathan Schoop hit a solo homerun in the second and Wladimir Balentien hit a two run homerun in the third to spice up the Netherlands offense. Sho Nakata continued to stay hot with a three run homerun in the third. He finished the game 3 for 6 with 5 RBIs.

The Netherlands took the game into extra innings on a Jonathan Schoop RBI single in the ninth inning. With runners on second and third and two out and a chance to win the game Curt Smith struck out.

Japan threatened in the tenth, loading the bases with one out. Norichika Aoki grounded into a double play, with many thinking Curt Smith was off the base when he caught the relay throw from Andrelton Simmons.

While the starting pitching was disappointing for both teams the relief pitching was stellar. The Japanese bullpen allowed only the one run in the ninth inning. The Netherlands also limited Japan to one run until the eleventh inning. There were over 44,000 who attended the game.

Dominican Republic 10 Colombia 3

Colombia battled Dominican Republic to a 3-3 tie after 10 innings. The Dominican Republic exploded for seven runs in the eleventh inning with Jean Segura providing the big hit with a bases clearing three run double.

Colombia had an opportunity to win the game in the ninth. After Jorge Alfaro hit a solo shot in the eighth to tie the game at 3-3 Colombia put their first two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth. Donavan Solano grounded out to put runners on first and third with one out. Reynaldo Rodriguez lined a shot to Jose Bautista in left field. Pinch runner Oscar Mercado tagged from third but Bautista threw a strike home to cut off the winning run. Myworld would have liked to have been there to hear the roar from the Dominicans after that play.

Close to 37,000 watched the Dominican Republic advance to the second round. Colombian fans can take satisfaction that their win over Canada automatically qualifies them for the 2021 WBC, or whenever the next WBC is played.

United States 8 Canada 0

The United States advanced to the second round with another opportunity to play the Dominican Republic in their future with their win over Canada. Canada will have to qualify to play in the next WBC after their last place finish. The United States put the game away with seven runs in the first two innings. Nolan Arenado hit a three run homer in the second. Eric Hosmer hit the first of his two doubles in the first to drive in two runs.

Danny Dufy got the start for the United States throwing four shutout innings, allowing just two hits. Ryan Dempster had his second poor start of the WBC failing to get out of the first inning before allowing three walks and two hits in the three run first. Only 22,000 showed up to watch the game between the two North American teams, evidence the WBC is being financed by the party atmosphere of the Dominican Republic.

Puerto Rico 9 Italy 3

Puerto Rico scored all their runs in the first five innings to romp over Italy and advance to the second round undefeated. Italy will have to wait until the results of the Mexico/Venezuela game to determine their fate. Puerto Rico will also get another opportunity to play the Dominican Republic after losing to them in the finals of the 2013 WBC.

Carlos Correa hit a three run homer in the fourth to fuel the offense. Jose Berrios worked five innings to get the win. The only two hits he allowed were solo shots from Drew Butera and John Andreoli. The bullpen of Hiram Burgos and Miguel Mejia shutout the Italians on one hit the remaining four innings.

Israel Rolls Past Cuba; Venezuela Wins Wild Game

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Israel proved they are a team to contend with after their 4-1 win over Cuba, keeping them undefeated in WBC play. Jason Marquis went 5.2 innings, allowing just one run in taming the Cuban bats with his assortment of breaking pitches. Cuba scored their only run off him when Alfredo Despaigne lined one of his pitches over the centerfield wall in the second inning to give Cuba an early 1-0 lead.

Israel tied the game in the fourth when Ryan Lavarnway doubled into left field. Despaigne took long enough getting to the ball to allow Ike Davis to score from first. Noelvis Entenza would retire the next hitter, but the Lavarnway double was the first hit he had given up in the game. He left after the fourth inning with three walks, the third one costing him a run.

Israel scored two more in the sixth. Walks again hurt the Cubans. A Ty Kelly single and Nate Freiman walk set the stage for Zach Borenstein, who broke the tie with a single to right field, scoring Kelly. Blake Gailen doubled to increase the score to 3-1. The Israelis managed to load the bases but Livan Moinelo got Scott Burcham to fly out to end the inning.

A lead off walk in the eighth led to the fourth Israeli run. Zach Borenstein advanced to third on a Ryan Lavarnway single. Blake Gailen laid down a bunt to score Borenstein.

Cuba did not really mount much of an offensive threat until the eighth inning. They loaded the bases on a single and two walks, Despaigne walking to load the bases. Josh Zeid came on to pitch and retired William Saavedra on a ground out to end the threat. The Cubans were retired in order in the ninth, Josh Zeid picking up the save.

Venezuela 11 Italy 10

It took 10 innings but Venezuela made up for their disaster of a game against the Puerto Ricans. Jose Altuve stroked a one out single in the tenth and Martin Prado drove him in with a double. For Prado it was his fifth hit of the game. Jose Castillo retired the Italians in order in the tenth to cap the win.

It was not easy. The Venezuelans thought they had the game won after scoring two in the ninth to take a 10-8 lead. Salvador Perez hit a two run homer for what appeared to be a victory.

The pesky Italians who scored five runs in the ninth the previous night to beat Mexico again proved formidable. Rob Segedin reached second on a throwing error by Alcides Escobar. He scored after two ground outs but still Venezuela had a one run lead. An Alex Liddi single and walk to Drew Butera put two runners on. Gavin Cecchini singled to score pinch runner Drew Maggi. Butera was not pinch run for and he tried to score on the hit but was thrown out at home. Myworld wonders where the pinch runner was for Butera. The game went to extra innings.

Italy had taken an early 5-0 lead after four innings. Daniel Descalso had driven in three runs with his two hits. Alex Liddo and Brandon Nimmo blasted solo homeruns in the fourth.

Venezuela stormed back, led by the 5 for 5 night from Martin Prado. He drove in three runs. The Venezuelans tacked on eight runs in the fifth through seventh innings. Italy scored one in the seventh and two in the eighth to send it into the ninth tied 8-8. There were 12,187 in attendance enjoying the slugfest.

Colombia 4 Canada 1

Julio Teheran pitched five innings of two hit ball to lead the Colombians to an upset win over the Canadians. Now all they have to do is beat the Dominicans for an opportunity to advance to the second round, or a Canadian win over the United States team. Canada has shown you can’t use the success of a 2011 roster to fill your 2017 roster if those players have taken off a couple years from playing.

The game did not start out well for Teheran. In the first inning a walk and two singles, the last by Freddie Freeman gave the Canadians an early run. Freedie Freeman was then caught stealing second as Tyler O’Neil struck out on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning. Teheran settled down after that, allowing just one hit over the next four innings.

Colombia scored their first run in the third when Donavan Solano drove in his brother Jhonatan with a single. Donavan was thrown out at second trying to advance a base on the throw home. For the Colombians it was the Solano show on offense.

Colombia added another run in the fifth to take the lead. Tito Polo slapped a two out single to center, stole second and scored on another Donavan Solano single. The Solano brothers struck again in the sixth with Jhonatan taking a walk with the bases loaded to drive in the third run. Jhonatan ended his day in the ninth with a leadoff double. Oscar Mercado pinch ran for him and scored on a Tito Polo bunt single after Scott Mathieson threw the ball away.

Canada could not mount any kind of offense against the under rated Colombian pitching staff. Yohan Pino came in to replace Teheran and tossed three innings of one hit shutout relief. Dayan Diaz gave up two back to back singles after striking out the first two hitters, but ended the inning and the game with a strikeout to secure the victory.

Puerto Rico 9 Mexico 4

In two games Mexico has now given up 9 runs in the ninth inning. Puerto Rico scored four in the top of the ninth to turn a close 5-4 game into a 9-4 rout. Javier Baez had the big hit with a three run homer. Francisco Lindor hit two homeruns for Puerto Rico, a two run homer in the first and a solo shot in the seventh that gave Puerto Rico a 5-1 lead. Mexico bounced back scoring three runs in the bottom half to make the game close.

Jorge Lopez got the start and the win for Puerto Rico allowing just one run on two hits in his 4.1 innings of work. A crowd of over 15,000 showed up to watch Mexico get almost eliminated from any shot of advancing to the second round. They have to beat Venezuela and hope Puerto Rico is fired up enough to beat the Italians to create a three way tie for second. Puerto Rico guaranteed themselves an opportunity to advance, but they must still beat Italy to advance as the first seed.