March 17, 2018

Puerto Rico beats United States of America in World Baseball Classic, forcing must-win game

21 March 2017, 05:26 | Joan Schultz

Puerto Rico beats United States of America in World Baseball Classic, forcing must-win game

Dominican Republic's Nelson Cruz right is tagged out by United States catcher Jonathan Lucroy during the first inning of a second-round World Baseball Classic baseball game Saturday in San Diego. — AP

Puerto Rico on Friday defeated the United States 6-5 at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) to punch their ticket to the semi-finals and keep their unbeaten streak intact.

In the next half inning, Team USA extended their lead to 6-3 on a two-run double by Andrew McCutchen. But before the title can be awarded, we have to figure out who'll be playing for it. That loss moved Puerto Rico into the semi-finals, and it set-up this victor take all game.

The US advanced to face Japan Tuesday Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Crawford then tripled to the left-center field gap - replays showed he was probably out at third base - and the USA trailed by a single run. In the top of the fourthwith a runner, outfielder Giancarlo Stanton absolutely crushed a ball to left field to give the Americans their first lead at 4-2.

The U.S. team kept battling back throughout the game and threatened to erase Puerto Rico's lead in the ninth when Brandon Crawford's two-RBI triple cut the deficit to one and put the tying run at third base. A big key was the second inning, when the Dominican Republic had runners on second and third with no outs, but U.S. starter Danny Duffy got out of the jam with no runs scoring. It reached the championship game in 2013 before losing to the Dominican Republic. Dominican starter Ervin Santana allowed four runs in 3 ⁄3 innings.

For the Americans, the scenario is simple: Beat the Dominican Republic on Saturday night, and they're going to the Finals.

Anyone who witnessed the United States win over the Dominican Republic can easily determine why this competition is called the World Baseball Classic. US pitcher Danny Duffy averted disaster when he got out of the inning without a run allowed.

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With two runners on and no outs, Diaz struck out Buster Posey and Paul Goldschmidt to hold Puerto Rico's lead at 6-3.

Duffy talked before last night's loss about how much has been made about those who are not participating in the WBC for the US and whether or not it motivates him and the other American starters (like Chris Archer, Marcus Stroman and Drew Smyly) to show everyone what they can do? Santiago said. "Half this team is probably going to be starting there if they come onto the United States of America team".

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo, a 27-year-old right-hander for the New York Mets, was charged with three runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Team USA outfielder Adam Jones said he learned a lesson from that experience. He has mostly been relegated to third base duty because of the defensive wizardry of Cleveland Indians luminary Francisco Lindor, himself hitting.389 (7-for-18) with a pair of home runs in the WBC. He made a decision to keep Stroman in the game. His mother, Adlin Auffant, is Puerto Rican. However, in last night's match-up, the one hit he had was very important.

"It's a sense of pride to play for Puerto Rico, " says Aviles, an infielder for the Cleveland Indians.

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