In the fourth game of pool play, Puerto Rico improved to 2-0 after defeating Mexico 9-4 Thursday night in Jalisco.
Mexico threatend to take the lead late in the game, scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, but could not overcome the talented Puerto Rican team.
With the win, Puerto Rico has increased their chances moving on to the next round of the World Baseball Classic.
Puerto Rico delivers strong performance
The Puerto Rican offense started out the game scoring two runs in the first inning off a two-run home run off the bat of Francisco Lindor. Lindor homered once again in the top of the seventh.
Carlos Beltran delivered an RBI single in the third, while Carlos Correa drove in another run off a sac fly.
Yadier Molina then tacked on another run in the ninth inning, giving Puerto Rico a much need insurance run. Javier Baez broke the game open, crushing a three-run home run over the left field fence.
Jorge Lopez gave Puerto Rico a tremendous outing on the mound, going four and one-third innings, striking out five batters while allowing one run on two hits. Hector Santiago came into pitch in relief for Lopez. Santiago pitched two and two-thirds innings, allowing three runs on four hits, striking out three.
The bullpen was in a rhythm, until Edwin Diaz came out to the found in ninth. Diaz hit the first batter he faced, walking the very next batter. Diaz settled down, striking out Xorge Carrillo, then got Manny Rodriguez to line out into the game ending double play.
Mexico struggles to find identity
Mexico’s pitching staff hasn’t shown the promise that came with their solid reputation, as many thought it was going to be a strength. Starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez surrendered four runs in four innings on the mound, while Joakim Soria gave up three runs in the two-thirds innings he pitched. In the two games, Mexico has allowed 19 runs on 25 hits.
The Mexican offense has been equally bad. Adrian Gonzalez is hitless in this year’s classic, as are a couple of other Mexican players on the team. In two games, Mexico has scored 13 runs on 20 hits, leaving 10 runners on the base paths.
What hurt Mexico the most was the error that occurred when Xorge Carrillo dropped a foul ball on the third base side. Had that not occurred, Molina would not have kept the inning going. Soria might not have surrendered the big three run home run that followed.
Pool play finale
Puerto Rico has a chance to clinch their spot in the next round after winning back-to-back games. With the top two teams from Pool D moving on, a victory against Italy Sunday would secure a spot into the next round. A loss against Italy would force a tiebreaker game on Monday.
Mexico looks to play spoiler Sunday evening when they take on Venezuela. Regardless of the results of the game, things could get interesting in Pool D.