Team Puerto Rico will enter the World Baseball Classic semifinals as one of two undefeated teams on Monday. They dominated Venezuela on Saturday afternoon, capitalizing on a strong showing from starter Jose De Leon and putting up a five-spot in the seventh inning en route to a 13-2 finish.
Jose De Leon and Giovanni Soto combined for five scoreless frames to start the game, limiting Venezuela to just four total baserunners before Hiram Burgos took the mound in the sixth. Team Venezuela promptly bounced back with a two-run homer from Rougned Odor, but failed to build on that momentum during the last three innings of the afternoon.
While Venezuela struggled to find their footing, Puerto Rico tacked on another five runs in the seventh inning. They boosted their advantage to an eight-run lead with a handful of RBI singles from Mike Aviles and Angel Pagan, a double from Rene Rivera and a sacrifice double play off the bat of Carlos Correa. A throwing error gave them an extra run in the eighth inning, and by the ninth, their eight-run surplus had ballooned to eleven runs after Kennys Vargas went deep in Puerto Rico’s only home run of the game.
The semifinals are scheduled to kick off in Los Angeles on Monday, when Team Puerto Rico will take on the Netherlands at 9 PM EDT. The winner of the Dominican Republic-USA game on Saturday night will determine which Pool F runner-up will face Japan (and their undefeated 6-0 record) on Tuesday.
The Orioles won their 19th game of the season 11 days ago. The club snapped a nine-game losing streak on Sunday afternoon, taking down the Marlins 10-4 to finally cross the 20-win threshold. Aside from the Orioles, who have baseball’s worst record (20-50), the White Sox were the slowest team to reach 20 wins, securing No. 20 on June 6 — 11 days ago, for those of you keeping score.
Mark Trumbo had three hits including a solo home run, three runs scored, and two RBI. Jace Peterson knocked in four runs, including two with a two-run homer. Starter Dylan Bundy wasn’t particularly sharp, giving up four runs over six innings, but it was good enough for the W.
Coincidentally, the Orioles’ last two wins at Camden Yards came on Father’s Day (June 17) and Mother’s Day (May 13). They were on an 11-game home losing streak.
There hasn’t been any one singular cause for the Orioles’ woes. The club has dealt with a handful of injuries. First baseman Chris Davis is having a tremendously terrible season, so much so that a Baltimore-area bar is offering free shots whenever he gets a hit. Second baseman Jonathan Schoop hasn’t hit anywhere close to the way he hit last year. Free agent pick-up Alex Cobb has a 7.14 ERA over 12 starts. Andrew Cashner has a 4.98 ERA and is on the 10-day disabled list. Zach Britton has been absent most of the season due to an injury, only recently coming back.
No one expected the Orioles to hang with the Yankees and Red Sox this season, but I don’t think anyone was expecting them to reach 20 wins in the middle of June, either.