The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico have already clinched spots for the World Baseball Classic semifinals at AT&T Park in San Francisco, but the two teams squared off this afternoon to determine the top seed out of the Miami group.
Pitching was strong on both sides, but the Dominican Republic topped Puerto Rico by the score of 2-0 to stay undefeated in the tournament. Carlos Santana broke a scoreless tie with a long solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Francisco Pena, the son of Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena, provided some valuable insurance with an opposite-field RBI single in the eighth.
Wandy Rodriguez came up huge for the Dominicans by allowing just two hits over six innings of shutout ball. Jose Veras, Santiago Casilla and Fernando Rodney followed with three scoreless frames in relief to lock down the victory. Robinson Cano was selected as the MVP of the Miami bracket while the Dominican Republic is now 6-0 in the tournament.
As the top seed in Group Two, the Dominican Republic squad will get tomorrow off before facing the Netherlands on Monday night at 9 p.m. ET. They’ll be looking for revenge, as the Netherlands ousted them from the 2009 World Baseball Classic. As for Puerto Rico, they’ll have the tougher task of hopping on a plane to face a well-rested Japan team tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ET. The winners will face off Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET.
The Reds announced on Thursday that the protective netting at Great American Ball Park will be extended to the end of each dugout in time for Opening Day next season. The press release notes that the current netting meets Major League Baseball’s guidelines and the new netting will go beyond those standards.
The netting “debate” came back on Wednesday when a young fan was struck in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees have done about the bare minimum in installing protective netting, which rightly earned them criticism. Brian Dozier, Todd Frazier, and Didi Gregorius each said yesterday that the netting should be extended. Other teams and Major League Baseball in general received criticism. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, for example, said the relative lack of action on MLB’s part is “morally repugnant.”
Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes that the Reds had already had this idea prior to Wednesday’s incident at Yankee Stadium.
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become eligible for free agency after the 2018 season and is likely to get a windfall. The club, however, isn’t expected to pursue trading their star at the hot corner this offseason, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.
Machado, 25, has been one of baseball’s best players since debuting in 2012. He had a slow start to the 2017 season, seeing his OPS nearly drop below .700 in early July, but a strong second half has made his overall numbers more than respectable. Machado is batting .264/.318/.484 with 32 home runs and 92 RBI in 651 plate appearances while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense at third base.
Just because the Orioles don’t plan to move Machado this offseason doesn’t mean they won’t try to recoup some value ahead of next year’s non-waiver trade deadline. According to Heyman, a person involved with the Orioles said, “It would take us 35 years to find another player like him.”