Dominican Republic tops Puerto Rico to secure top seed in Pool Two of WBC

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The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico have already clinched spots for the World Baseball Classic semifinals at AT&T Park in San Francisco, but the two teams squared off this afternoon to determine the top seed out of the Miami group.

Pitching was strong on both sides, but the Dominican Republic topped Puerto Rico by the score of 2-0 to stay undefeated in the tournament. Carlos Santana broke a scoreless tie with a long solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Francisco Pena, the son of Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena, provided some valuable insurance with an opposite-field RBI single in the eighth.

Wandy Rodriguez came up huge for the Dominicans by allowing just two hits over six innings of shutout ball. Jose Veras, Santiago Casilla and Fernando Rodney followed with three scoreless frames in relief to lock down the victory. Robinson Cano was selected as the MVP of the Miami bracket while the Dominican Republic is now 6-0 in the tournament.

As the top seed in Group Two, the Dominican Republic squad will get tomorrow off before facing the Netherlands on Monday night at 9 p.m. ET. They’ll be looking for revenge, as the Netherlands ousted them from the 2009 World Baseball Classic. As for Puerto Rico, they’ll have the tougher task of hopping on a plane to face a well-rested Japan team tomorrow night at 9 p.m. ET. The winners will face off Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.