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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).

2017 Preview: The National League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics