By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)
Robinsón Canó had his second consecutive three-hit game and Samuel Deduno hurled four shutout innings to lead the Dominican Republic over a scrappy Spain, 6-3. The win put the Dominican Republic in the driver’s seat in Pool C, while it was the second loss for Spain.
Deduno and Yoanner Negrin got off to a strong start with 1-2-3 first innings, but the Dominicans jumped on Spain’s hurler in the second. Nelson Cruz capitalised on a leadoff walk to Edwin Encarnación with a RBI-single and Ricardo Nanita drove Cruz home later in the inning for a 2-0 lead.
Deduno gave up his first hit in the second, but Spain could not put together a rally. Negrin was knocked out of the game in the third after three walks and a run-scoring double by Canó, but Nick Schumacher could do no better in relief. The right-hander gave another RBI-hit to Cruz and Carlos Santana plated the Dominicans’ fifth run with a ground ball.
Both teams received solid work in the middle innings, with Spain’s manager Mauro Mazzotti getting gritty relief work from Schumacher, Chris Manno, and Eduardo Morlán. The three hurlers did not give up a hit between the end of the third and beginning of the eighth.
Deduno gave his Minnesota Twins a reason to consider him in a more pivotal role in 2013 with an impressive five strikeout, four inning performance. He did not walk a batter and gave up four hits. Alfredo Simón picked up where he left off, although Spain reached him for a run in the seventh.
In that inning, Salomón Manriquez walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Éngel Béltre bunted his way aboard, but Canó misfielded the ball and Manriquez scored from second. It was one of three hits that Simón gave up, and he struck out three while walking two.
The final two frames produced some tense moments for both sides. The Houston Astros’ Rhiner Cruz gave up a solo home run to Carlos Santana in the eight, making it 6-1, and the Dominicans put two runners on in the ninth. A big strikeout of Santana by Iván Granados ended the threat, and it appeared that the Dominican Republic would win easily.
In the bottom of the ninth, José Veras hit Manriquez, but sandwiched the plunking with two strikeouts. Spain was not quite finished, though, as Béltre singled to right and Yasser Gómez drove in a run with another safety. Veras hit another batter and, with the bases loaded, manager Tony Peña paid Spain the compliment of inserting his closer, Fernando Rodney.
The Tampa Bay Rays’ stopper walked Bárbaro Cañizares to make it 6-3, but zoned in on the final batter, Rafael Álvarez, overwhelming him with the stuff that earned Rodney the AL Comeback Player of the Year award and a record-setting 0.60 ERA in 2012.
Canó and Cruz were the only Dominicans with multiple hits, though Hanley Ramírez drew three free passes. Cruz and Santana each drove in two. Yunesky Sánchez had three hits for Spain, while Béltre and Manriquez had two hits for the losers. The 3-4-5 hitters for Spain were 1-for-12 with five strikeouts, leaving seven men on base.
Deduno earned the win and Rodney the save. Negrin took the loss after surrendering five runs on three hits and four walks. He struck out three in 2 1/3. Seven other pitchers took the hill for Mazzotti, combining for 6 2/3 frames of one-run ball, striking out six.
Spain dropped to 0-2 in the main WBC tournament, while the Dominicans showed why they are favourites for the world title with their second well-played win. Stay tuned for all the news and information for the 2013 World Baseball Classic.