The championship game for the 2013 World Baseball Classic is set.
The Dominican Republic defeated the Netherlands by the score of 4-1 this evening at AT&T Park in San Francisco and will advance to face Puerto Rico in the WBC finals tomorrow night at 8 p.m. ET. Samuel Deduno is slated to start for the Dominicans while Giancarlo Alvarado will pitch for Puerto Rico.
The Netherlands grabbed the early lead in this one without the benefit of a hit. Edinson Volquez struggled with his control in the first inning by walking Andrelton Simmons and Jurickson Profar to begin the ballgame. Simmons eventually came around to score on a ground out by Wladimir Balentien. However, they couldn’t get anything else going for the rest of the night, collecting just four hits.
Dutch starter Diegomar Markwell offered very little in the way of velocity, but he actually held the Dominicans off the board until the bottom of the fifth inning when Moises Sierra doubled home Carlos Santana to tie things up. After Alejandro De Aza was retired on a ground out, Jose Reyes delivered a go-ahead RBI single. He later scored the third run of the inning when Tom Stuifbergen replaced Markwell and immediately uncorked a wild pitch. Edwin Encarnacion then capped the rally with an RBI single, driving home Miguel Tejada.
And that was all the offense the Dominican Republic would need. Their dominant bullpen took over from there, as Kelvin Herrera, Pedro Strop and Fernando “Rally Plantain” Rodney combined for four innings of scoreless relief to finish off the victory.
The Dominican Republic squad is now a perfect 7-0 in in the 2013 World Baseball Classic and can run the table with a win tomorrow night. They have already defeated Puerto Rico twice in this year’s tournament.
According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.
The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.
Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.
It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.
I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.
The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.
Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”
Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.