World Baseball Classic: Tournament favorite Dominican Republic eliminated in pool play
An All-Star lineup worked out to a first-round exit for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
The pre-tournament favorites, featuring a roster stacked with some of the biggest names in MLB, was eliminated in pool play Wednesday with a 5-2 loss to Puerto Rico. It was a do-or-die game for both teams, but the D.R. came out flat and couldn't recover in front of a raucous Miami crowd with fans on both sides.
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Puerto Rico got on the board with a four-run third inning that started with a solo homer by Christian Vázquez, followed by four straight singles. The exclamation point came two innings later, when Francisco Lindor notched a little-league home run courtesy of a misplay by Dominican center fielder Julio Rodríguez.
LINDOR MAKES IT ALL THE WAY AROUND THE BASES!! WOW!!!
📺: WBC on FS1 pic.twitter.com/IYNLDaOllE
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 16, 2023
The play was officially scored as a single for Lindor and a three-base error for Rodríguez.
The firepower of the Dominican lineup meant it was difficult to ever rule out a comeback, but the Puerto Rico bullpen proved itself as one of the strongest in the tournament. Eight pitchers took the mound, capped off by closer Edwin Díaz, who injured his right knee in the postgame celebration and had to be taken off the field via wheelchair.
At 3-1, Puerto Rico officially finishes second in Pool D, behind 4-0 Venezuela. Both advance to the quarterfinals beginning Friday in Miami.
Some fans livid after Fox Sports 1 switches to Team USA in ninth inning
Viewers enjoying the game at home received a surprise in the ninth inning, when the Fox Sports 1 telecast switched to Team USA's must-win game against Colombia.
The ending of Puerto Rico-Dominican Republic was relegated to Fox Sports 2, a channel many fans do not receive with their cable subscriptions. Suffice to say, many fans were less than happy about missing Díaz closing out the game — not to mention the haunting scene that came after.
What went wrong for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic?
An exit in pool play would've been unthinkable when looking through the D.R.'s roster before the tournament began.
Atop the lineup were transcendent talents such as Rodríguez, Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Rafael Devers. The rotation was led by reigning NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara, with other arms such as World Series champs Christian Javier and Luis Garcia. The No. 9 hitter in the team's first game was Gary Sanchez, a Silver Slugger winner.
This lineup was supposed to run roughshod over whichever pool it landed in. So what happened?
For starters, the team lost arguably its strongest bat when Guerrero withdrew from the tournament due to a knee issue. There was also the fact that the D.R. was in the toughest pool of the tournament, having to fight fellow Latin powers Venezuela and Puerto Rico to advance.
The Dominicans lost against both teams. Venezuela's hitters jumped on Alcantara for five hits and three runs in 3 2/3 innings in the tournament opener, while Venezuela's pitching staff held the fearsome lineup to one run and two extra-base hits, both doubles by Soto. The D.R.'s lineup once again came out flat against Puerto Rico, and that was all it took to knock the squad out of the tournament.