PUERTO RICO 4, NETHERLANDS 3 (11 INNINGS)
Puerto Rico continued their perfect WBC and advanced to tomorrow night's Championship Game with last night's extra-inning victory over the Netherlands. As you may have noticed, this game went to the eleventh inning, which means the international tiebreaker (inning starts with runners on first and second base) came into play. In this case, it proved to be crucial, if not the deciding factor in the result of the game. Both teams' eleventh innings started with a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third followed by an intentional walk to load the bases with one out to increase the probability of a double play. This strategy worked for Puerto Rico as Netherlands DH Curt Smith grounded into a double play. The Netherlands were not as lucky as Puerto Rico RF Eddie Rosario hit a line drive to center field, which proved to be enough to score 3B Carlos Correa for the game-winning run.
The tiebreaker-induced run in the eleventh broke a long scoring drought for the Puerto Ricans, who hadn't scored since the second inning, the last one pitched by Dutch starter Rick Van Den Hurk (2 IP, 5 H, 3 R [all earned], 1 K). The Dutch bullpen kept the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the game for the remainder of regulation innings with seven innings of shutout relief. Losing pitcher (and former Indians minor leaguer) Loek van Mil extended the shutout streak to eight innings before giving up the game-winning run, which was scored by a man who didn't even bat in the inning. While the Netherlands did not advance to the Championship, they have proven that their semifinal appearance four years ago was not a fluke.
Francisco Lindor (Puerto Rico, SS) - 3-5, 1 R, 1 2B - Lindor had a big day at the plate, extending his hitting streak to five games, in addition to his usual solid defensive play, which included two double plays on Monday night. Francisco has one game left in the WBC before returning to Indians spring training and it appears that he will have minimal difficulty catching up with his teammates given how well he is playing in competitive contests.
Joe Colon (Puerto Rico, RP) - 1.2 IP, 1 H - Colon only needed 15 pitches (10 strikes) to pitch 1.2 crucial innings of solid relief to keep the game tied and extend it to extra innings. Colon is yet to allow a run in five innings (four relief appearances) in this year's World Classic. If he's performing this well against WBC teams, he should dominate the International League, or perhaps get an early opportunity in Cleveland.
EXHIBITION SCORE (SUNDAY)
Los Angeles Dodgers 3, Japan 2
That does it for Day 15 (and Day 14) of the WBC. Come back tomorrow for a recap of Day 16 of the World Classic, which will see Team USA face Samurai Japan for the other spot in Wednesday's Championship Game against Puerto Rico.