Puerto Rico advances over the Dominican Republic in Pool D finale

Miami, Florida – Puerto Rico won the big battle in Little Havana, triumphing over the Dominican Republic 5-2 to advance out of Pool D to the quarterfinals. The highly anticipated elimination game saw the Puerto Ricans jump to an early 4-0 lead initiated by a solo home run from Christian Vazquez, relying on the combined efforts of eight pitchers to keep the Dominicans at bay. D.R’s offense was frustrated throughout the evening, going two-for-eight with runners in scoring position. Both Manny Machado and Rafael Devers went hitless in the crucial contest. Their offense was especially handcuffed in the last three innings failing to record a hit.

Postgame celebrations were marred by Edwin Diaz’s freak accident. The New York Mets closer suffered a right knee injury during celebrations, specifically, he tore the patellar tendon. Diaz will need surgery and is expected to miss the season, a huge blow for Puerto Rico, the Mets, and baseball fans everywhere.

The Puerto Ricans (3-1) advance as the Pool D runner-ups behind Venezuela (4-0). They will remain in Miami to play Pool C winner Mexico Saturday night.

Win or Go Home

After a pair of scoreless innings, Puerto Rico came out swinging. Vazquez’s homer was only the beginning of what became a huge inning for the Boricuas.  Starting pitcher Johnny Cueto then surrendered back-to-back singles forcing the Dominican Republic to go with a pitching change. Bryan Abreu attempted to mitigate the damage but Francisco Lindor came through with an RBI single adding to his team’s lead. Enrique Hernandez followed suit with a base hit of his own plating Martin Maldonado. MJ Melendez grounded out but allowed Lindor to cross the dish. When the dust settled the Puerto Ricans recorded four runs on five hits. 

The Dominicans flexed some power of their own when Juan Soto smashed a no-doubter straight up the middle that same inning making it 4-1. The top of the fifth saw a costly error committed by center fielder Julio Rodríguez turning a routine single by Lindor into an inside-the-park run returning it to a four-score game. He redeemed himself by hitting a line-drive single to the left side loading the bases. However, the Dominican Republic came away with only one run to show for it. It was on Manny Machado hitting into a rally-killing 6-4-3 double play. Rodriguez continued his redemption streak pulling off a diving catch, robbing Javier Baez of a hit in the sixth.

Puerto Rico’s bullpen stepped up in a huge way, not allowing a single hit in the last three frames suffocating any hope of a comeback from the opposition. In the post-game presser, coach Rodney Linares took full responsibility for the failure to advance out of the group. Linares reiterated more than once that he leaned on sabermetrics defending his decisions declaring if he could go back in time he’d do the same moves again.

The Great Game

In the aftermath of a very tragic and unfortunate event, folks have been declaring that the WBC should be discontinued or at the very least prohibit MLB stars from participating. Technically, this incident occurred after the game not during. I understand the pain and anger coming from the Mets fans, I get it. Diaz is one of the best closers out there and was a crucial piece to New York’s hopes of making it to the postseason in a bid to win the World Series. However, to call these games meaningless is way too much of a stretch. Players like Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Sandy Alcantara, Marcus Stroman, Nolan Arenado, Mookie Betts, J.T. Realmuto, Francisco Lindor, Javier Báez, Manny Machado and so many, many more would argue how special it is to play for, and represent your country. These are highly competitive games, not some exhibition.

To those for and against the tournament, it’s here to stay. The fans love it, the players love it, and it immensely helps grow the game. Let’s not forget the amount of revenue it’s generating. If all else fails, money talks. I sincerely wish Edwin Diaz a speedy recovery and hope to see him back on the mound sooner rather than later.


This was THE marquee matchup of Pool D. With the threat of elimination looming over them, the two sides battled it out for the right to stay. The meeting between the two baseball powers had a lot of wild stuff. The stadium was jam-packed with a crowd so loud I couldn’t even hear myself think. You had Fernando Cruz pitching for Puerto Rico while wearing a tattoo with the flag of the Dominican Republic on his left arm. There was even a video of some fan who raised up a chair in celebration when Vazquez went yard. Then we saw Edwin Diaz get hurt in the post-game celebration. Seeing those players distraught was heartbreaking.

Unfortunate events aside, it’s that sort of crazy playoff atmosphere Marlins fans are craving. The ambiance within loadDepot park was palpable. To say it was exciting was an understatement. Speaking of.

Johnny Cueto’s brief start shows glimmers of what he is capable of. For the first two innings, he was pretty sharp. Cueto struck out Lindor and Melendez for example, getting ahead of the hitters and achieving quick outs. He was going great until the third inning when Christian Vazquez took him deep to left. Cueto couldn’t get back into his groove resulting in his departure. Switching from a current Marlin to a former one, Yimi Garcia also pitched tossing a frame. Garcia gave up two hits, an unearned run (the Rodriguez error), and struck out Melendez. And so ends pool play, the field of 20 has been reduced to eight. Let the quarterfinals begin!

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