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Puerto Rico advances in World Baseball Classic after defeating Italy 9-3

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Team Puerto Rico has emerged from Pool D undefeated after taking down Team Italy on Sunday for its third victory. They’re moving onto the next round, Pool F.

Italy opened up with two runs in the top of the first on John Andreloi’s two-run home run off of starter Jose Berrios. Puerto Rico struck back for a run in the bottom half on a Javier Baez single. Drew Butera homered in the second to put Italy back up two runs at 3-1. From there, however, it was all Puerto Rico.

An Enrique Hernandez single and a run-scoring ground ball double play from Angel Pagan tied the game up at 3-3 in the bottom of the second. Carlos Beltran doubled in a run in the third to give P.R. the lead. Carlos Correa drilled a three-run home run in the fourth to make it 7-3. Hernandez tripled in a run, then scored in the fifth to make it 9-3.

Berrios wound up pitching five innings, giving up the three runs on two hits and a walk with six strikeouts. He threw 62 pitches in total. Hiram Burgos took over in the sixth and pitched three no-hit innings, yielding just a walk with one strikeout on 36 pitches. Miguel Mejia pitched the ninth, working around a one-out single to close out the ballgame with a 9-3 victory for Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico has advanced from Pool D to the next round, Pool F. They’re joined by the D.R. which also won its third game on Sunday. Pool F opens up play on Tuesday at Petco Park in San Diego. Italy is now 1-2 and awaits the results of Sunday night’s game between Venezuela (1-1) and Mexico (0-2).

Oh good, it’s “Yasiel Puig is a showboat” season

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With the Los Angeles Dodgers punching their ticket to the World Series, Yasiel Puig is now going to be the subject of commentary by people who tend not to care about Yasiel Puig until it’s useful for them to write outraged columns or go on talk radio rants about baseball deportment.

We got a brief teaser of this last night when, after scoring the Dodgers’ ninth run on a Logan Forsythe double, TBS analyst Ron Darling criticized Puig for his “shenanigans” and “rubbing it in.” Never mind that his third base coach was waving him home and that, if he didn’t run hard, he was just as likely to be criticized for dogging it. In other news, baseball teams don’t stop trying in the fourth inning of baseball games, nor should they.

That was just an appetizer, though. The first real course of the “Puig is a problem” feast we’re likely to be served over the next week and a half comes from Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who wrote it even before the Dodgers won Game 5 last night:

If you were raised to love baseball and to recognize the smart, winning kind from everything less, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is insufferable. As the sport is diminished by professionals who disregard the basic act of running to first base as a matter of style, Puig, an incurable home-plate poser, often makes turning doubles and triples into singles appear effortless . . . In the postseason, Puig continues to behave as if he’s in the Home Run Derby. He even seems to relish his high-risk flamboyant foolishness despite frequent backfires.

This may as well be a fill in the blanks column from 2013 or 2014, when “Puig is a flashy showboater who costs his team more than he gives it” columns were all the rage. It ignores the fact that Puig, commonly dinged for being lazy, worked his butt off in 2017, particularly on defense, to the point where he has a strong case for a Gold Glove this year. It also ignores his .455/.538/.727 line in the NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks and his .389/.500/.611 line against the Cubs in the NLCS. In the regular season he set career highs for games, homers, RBI, stolen bases and almost set a career high for walks despite having seventy fewer plate appearances than he did back in 2013 when he walked 67 times. He’s not the MVP candidate some thought he might be, but he’s a fantastic player who has been a key part of the Dodgers winning their first pennant in 29 years.

But the dings on Puig from the likes of Mushnick have rarely been about production. They’ve simply been about style and the manner in which he’s carried himself. To the extent those issues were legitimate points of criticism — particularly his tardiness, his relationships with his teammates and his at times questionable dedication — they have primarily been in-house concerns for the Dodgers, not the casual fan like Mushnick. On that score the Dodgers have dealt with Puig and, by all accounts, Puig has responded pretty well. An occasional lapse to be sure, but nothing which makes him a greater burden than a benefit. I mean, if he was, would be be batting cleanup in a pennant-clinching game?

So if the beef with Puig is not really about baseball, what could Phil Mushnick’s issue with him possible be?

I, for one, have no idea whatsoever.