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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).

The Red Sox start is ridiculous

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The red-hot Red Sox completed a sweep of the previously red-hot Angels last night, outscoring them 27-3 in their three-game series. Last night’s game was, relatively speaking, a close one, with the Sox winning “only” by six runs. They did manage to strike out Shohei Ohtani three times, though, so some style points help make up for the “squeaker.” Also worth noting that they held Mike Trout of all people to a 3-for-11 line in their three-game series. He did not score a single time and drove in no runs.

That series win puts the Sox at 16-2 on the year. They dropped their Opening Day game to the Rays, but then won their next six games against Tampa Bay, which I’d say makes up for it. In between those two series they swept a two-game series from the Marlins and afterwards they took two of three from the Yankees and three in a row from the Orioles. The only thing that even threatened to slow this juggernaut down is the weather, resulting in a postponement of Monday morning’s Patriot’s Day game.¬†Somewhere in here we should notice that they’re doing this with their starting shortstop and starting second baseman on the disabled list.

As we’ve noted many times, their 16-2 record is the best start in the Red Sox’ 118-year history. It’s also the best start for any team since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers began 17-1 (let us just forget, for the time being, that those Brewers lost 18 of 20 in May of that year). They are the fourth team since 1961 to win 16 of its first 18 games.

The Sox aren’t simply getting lucky here. They’ve scored 116 runs and have allowed only 50, which is a Pythagorean record of 15-3. They lead all of baseball in offense, scoring 6.44 runs a game, leading individually in average, on-base percentage and slugging. They are only three one hundredths of a run behind the Astros from leading all of baseball in pitching, allowing only 2.78 runs a game. They’re winning all of these games because, in the early going, they’ve simply been that dang much better than everyone they’ve played.

No, the Sox are not going to go 144-18, as they are currently on pace to do. Yes, they are going to find a lot more trouble in their schedule once they play the Orioles, Rays and Marlins less, play a healthier Yankees team more and face off against the Astros, the Blue Jays, the Indians, the Twins and some tougher interleague opponents. This is baseball, obviously, and no one makes it through a season without rough patches, long, short and numerous.

Still: this has been one whale of a start for Boston. Those wins are in the bank. It’s been quite the thing to see.