Second round, Pool F play opened with a shocker when Puerto Rico snapped an 11-game winning streak for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, a winning streak that extended over eight years.
After the loss, I wrote that “I have a feeling that they’ll rebound just fine, though. Too much talent, and too much pride.” Both of those things shined through in their win over Venezuela last night. The Dominicans did not look like a team that was shook at all that they were finally handed a loss for the first time in nearly a decade. They looked like the same old confident team that has been steamrolling every country they’ve face in the WBC, and it all started with Gregory Polanco’s solo shot in the fifth:
Polanco, by the way, is leading the Dominicans in hits (8-for-15), batting average (.533), and OPS (1.388). An inning later, Manny Machado, who went hitless in this one, made an absolutely ridiculous play with help from Carlos Santana, throwing out Miguel Cabrera from the friggin’ fifth row.
And it wouldn’t be a notable Dominican Republic victory without an exclamation point from Nelson Cruz, who hammered his third home run of the WBC.
With that home run, Cruz is now hitting .294 with a 1.282 OPS in this year’s WBC. His three bombs lead the DR, and he’s now tied for the most home runs by any player in the tournament. The win for the Dominicans keeps their hopes of defending their WBC crown alive, as they’re now 1-1 and slated to take on Team USA on Saturday night. That game is going to be NUTS. If you recall, the last time these two teams squared off, that was the game that the DR trailed 5-0 before clobbering three tank shots to come all the way back to win.
As far as Venezuela goes, they’re in rough shape, as they fall to 0-2 in Pool F play. Not only that, but their next task is a tall one, as they take on Puerto Rico Saturday afternoon, the team that blew their doors off 11-0 a week ago today in Pool D. If Venezuela wants to do some extra scouting on their upcoming opponent, they can catch them on the MLB Network tonight at 10pm against Team USA, who are 1-0 in Pool F play after beating…Venezuela.