A three-spot in the bottom of the first was all Puerto Rico needed to defeat Spain in a battle of Pool C contestants in the World Baseball Classic. Carlos Beltran doubled to score Angel Pagan, Mike Aviles hit a sacrifice fly to score Alex Rios, and Carlos Rivera walked with the bases loaded to plate Beltran in a shaky opener for Spain pitcher Sergio Perez.
From there, the offense subsided at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Puerto Rico’s Giancarlo Alvarado threw four scoreless innings and Hiram Burgos four and two-thirds, the duo holding Spain to a meager five hits — all singles — while striking out seven and walking one. Xavier Cedeno came on with two outs in the ninth, striking out Salomon Manriquez looking to close out the game. None of Puerto Rico’s hitters logged more than one hit, but the team drew five walks and stole four bases in an attempt to generate offense.
Spain’s Perez rebounded with a scoreless second before giving way to Richard Salazar, who tossed an impressive five innings of scoreless baseball. Edgar Gonzalez and Ricardo Hernandez combined for a scoreless eighth inning.
Puerto Rico joins the Dominican Republic at 1-0 in Pool C while Spain drops to 0-1 with Venezuela. Spain plays the DR tomorrow at 11 AM ET while Puerto Rico will play Venezuela later in the evening.
In a mailbag published on Thursday, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post says he has spoken with Arenado and his agent from the Wasserman Media Group. Based on that, he says the Rockies have not broached the subject of a contract extension with the All-Star third baseman.
Arenado will enter his second of four years of arbitration eligibility after earning $5 million for the 2016 season. He’s due to a hefty pay raise and will continue on that track into free agency after the 2019 season. It may behoove the Rockies to get extension talks started sooner rather than later. Saunders, however, thinks that Arenado wants to see if the Rockies become contenders in the next two seasons before signing the dotted line.
Arenado, 25, enters Thursday’s action batting .293/.361/.567 with 40 home runs, 130 RBI, and 112 runs scored in 678 plate appearances. His 40 homers is best in the National League and the 130 RBI are best in the majors. He has an argument for winning the National League Most Valauble Player Award.
Agent Scott Boras eulogized client Jose Fernandez at his funeral on Thursday. Boras couldn’t even get through the first sentence without breaking down in tears. It was difficult to watch without wanting to sob myself, but it was a touching eulogy that spoke for a lot of people who were fond of Fernandez.