Prior to the 2023 World Baseball Classic, U.S. baseball magazine Baseball America chose the Dominican Republic as one of the most likely candidates for the championship. It highly valued its hitter lineup from Manny Machado to Juan Soto to Rafael Devers and commended its pitchers, including Sandy Alcántara, who garnered last year's National League Cy Young Award. Local baseball gamblers also bet their money on the country.
However, you will never guess what baseball ends up with. The stellar team hung its head in shame following its disqualification in the first round. It was taken out by Puerto Rico by two to five in the final tournament match of Group D in loanDepot Park, Miami on Thursday. It was a make-or-break moment for both teams because the results would take the winner to the quarterfinal round while eliminating the loser in the first round.
Puerto Rico led by Yadier Molina, a legendary catcher who retired last year, got the upper hand after Christian Vázquez hit a homer as a lead-off hitter in the top of the third inning to contribute to four points.
Despite Soto’s over-the-fence homerun in the bottom of the third inning, Francisco Lindor of Puerto Rico took advantage of the opponent’s error to score a run in the top of the fifth inning. While Julio Rodríguez, the Dominican center fielder, had a fielding error by missing out on the ball, Lindor ran the bases and reached the home plate. The Dominicans only earned one point as Manny Machado recorded a ground into a double play in front of the shortstop with bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Puerto Rico Manager Molina, who made it to the final round of the competition in 2013 and 2017, is ready to fight for the championship as a newbie manager. However, the team cannot always feel confident about its winning chances because Edwin Díaz got a right leg injury while celebrating a win with his teammates. It is not reported yet where he had an injury and how serious it is. Given that he was seen leaving the arena in the wheelchair, he did not seem in good shape. Díaz signed a 102-million-dollar contract with the Mets last year for the following five years, becoming the most expensive closing pitcher ever in the league. Puerto Rico is scheduled to compete against Mexico, which topped Group C, for the semifinal round in the same arena at 8 a.m. this Saturday.
The United States, one of the strongest teams, won the final Group C match with Columbia by three to two. Ranking second in the group, it advanced to the quarterfinal round. Mike Trout stood out by preemptively marking a timely hit and scoring two RBIs to turn the game around. He went three for four with three RBIs. In the quarterfinal match, the U.S. team will meet Venezuela, Group D’s leading team.
Heon-Jae Lee firstname.lastname@example.org