Robinson Cano went 3-for-5 and Carlos Santana homered as the Dominican Republic took another step towards advancing in the WBC on Saturday, beating Spain 6-3.
The Dominican team scored five times in the second and third innings off Yoanner Negrin, with Nelson Cruz driving in two of the runs. The Spanish bullpen did solid work afterwards, but the offense struggled until mounting a rally in the ninth.
Spain got its first run of the tournament in the seventh when Engel Beltre tried to bunt for a hit with a man on second. Cano was late getting to it and tried to scoop with his glove and flip the ball in one motion, only to whiff on it entirely. The ball rolled into right field, allowing Salomon Manriquez to score and Beltre to reach second.
The game got more interesting in the ninth, as likely Astros closer Jose Veras failed to shut the door. After Spain scored a run, the Dominicans brought in Fernando Rodney, who walked in a run to make it 6-3. Rodney finally struck out Rafael Alvarez to end it.
Samuel Deduno struck out five in four scoreless innings after drawing the start for the D.R.
The Dominican Republic is now 2-0 in pool play and would clinch a spot in Round 2 if Puerto Rico beats Venezuela later tonight. They should also hold the edge in any tiebreakers if they happen to finish tied with Puerto Rico and Venezuela at 2-1. They’ll next play Puerto Rico on Sunday. Spain is 0-2 headed into its finale against Venezuela.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: