Dominican Republic won the 2013 World Baseball Classic tonight at AT&T Park in San Francisco, topping Puerto Rico 3-0. With the win, the Dominican Republic becomes the second team to win, Japan having won in both ’06 and ’09. The American hosts were nowhere to be found.
Like many of the games in this year’s classic, scoring came early and without response. Edwin Encarnacion put DR on the board in the second with an RBI double, scoring Robinson Cano and Jose Reyes. They padded their lead in the 5th on an RBI single off the bat of Erick Aybar.
It’s hard to determine whether the contest was a question of whether Puerto Rico couldn’t hit, or whether Dominican Republic was simply unhittable. Dominican starting pitcher Samuel Deduno pitched 5.0 innings, allowing no runs and only 2 hits. Octavio Dotel followed in the 6th, giving up only one hit, which proved to be Puerto Rico’s last hit of the game. Pedro Strop, Santiago Casilla and Fernando Rodney each gave the Dominican team an inning of hitless relief.
Rodney finished the World Baseball Classic with 7 saves, a spotless ERA, and a WHIP of 0.63. He gave up only one hit in seven innings pitched throughout the tournament.
One thing is certain after the 2013 World Baseball Classic; interest is up. While preliminary attendance numbers show an upswing, something that cannot be accounted for with numbers was clearly evident: the players take it very, very seriously. From the early rounds on, the level of intensity matched that of an MLB playoff atmosphere, with players routinely celebrating on field. In addition, there was the brawl between Mexico and Canada in Round One.
Competing countries have four years to prepare for the next tournament, which could possibly feature an encore schedule of late-round games in San Francisco and other US locations. Whether the United States will contend in the 2017 contest is up to the players, many of whom opted to stay in MLB spring training rather than represent their country.