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Dominican Republic advances in WBC after outlasting Colombia in 11 innings

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It needed 11 innings, but Team Dominican Republic was able to outlast Team Colombia 10-3 in 11 innings during Sunday afternoon’s World Baseball Classic contest, earning them the right to move on to the next round.

Both teams plated a run in the first. Jose Bautista hit a sacrifice fly in the top half for D.R. and Giovanny Urshela singled in a run in the bottom half for Colombia. In the second, the D.R. took a 3-1 lead on a Manny Machado double followed by Bautista reaching on a fielding error.

Colombia struck back for a run in the sixth on a Mauricio Ramos double. Jorge Alfaro then tied the game in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the eighth with a solo home run to left field off of Fernando Rodney.

Colombia very nearly won the game in the bottom of the ninth, which would have put them in a tie with the D.R. in Pool C standings. The club put its first two runners on base when Jhonatan Solano singled and Tito Polo was hit by a pitch. Donovan Solano hit what looked like a 6-4-3 ground ball double play, but shortstop Jean Segura was only able to get the out at second as Jonathan Villar made a slightly off-target throw to first. Reynaldo Rodriguez then hit a line drive to shallow center field. Jose Bautista caught the ball on the fly, then fired home to catcher Welington Castillo. The ball took two hops and Castillo, in one motion, snagged the ball and applied the tag to pinch-runner Oscar Mercado for the final out of the inning.

The play was close enough that Team Colombia thought it had won the game, but home plate umpire Tripp Gibson made the right call. He wound up ejecting Polo and Rodriguez with what was truly an itchy trigger finger.

Neither team scored in the 10th inning, sending the game to the 11th where the rules change a bit. The D.R. started with runners on first and second base and it proved to be the catalyst for a rally. Mel Rojas, Jr. laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners up a base. Colombia walked Gregory Polanco to load the bases. And then… the floodgates opened. Castillo singled in two runs to make it 5-3. Villar walked to re-load the bases. Jean Segura doubled to deep center field to clear the bases, upping the lead to 8-3. After Manny Machado popped up for the second out, Robinson Cano reached on a fielding error, plating Segura. Bautista singled to put runners on first and third, and Santana then singled Cano home. After a seven-run top of the 11th inning, the D.R. led 10-3.

Colombia, of course, also started the bottom of the 11th with runners on first and second base, but it couldn’t capitalize in similar fashion. With Jeurys Familia on the mound, Adrian Sanchez and Mauricio Ramos both struck out. Mercado then grounded out to third base to end the game.

The D.R. has advanced to Pool F after going 3-0 in Pool C. They’re headed to Petco Park San Diego, which will open up play on Tuesday. Colombia is now 1-2 and waits to see what happens between the United States (1-1) and Canada (0-2).

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.