MIAMI — The trajectory of a team that General Manager Nelson Cruz came to describe as a “dream team” and whose manager Rodney Linares said anything short of winning the World Baseball Classic will end Wednesday night.
With a rotation led by Sandy Alcantara and Christian Javier, an enviable player and batting total of 19 silverware, the Dominican Republic was unanimously considered one of the favorites to win the tournament. The lead in Group D, even with Puerto Rico and Venezuela, looked like a formality when the match got underway in Miami on Saturday.
Four days later, at packed LoanDepot Park with 36,025 people, Linares and Sons had to prematurely say goodbye after losing 5-2 against Puerto Rico.
“Yes, for my part, yes,” Linares replied in the post-match press conference when asked if he considered the first-round elimination a failure. “I take responsibility for the game and our loss.”
Juan Soto, the Dominican team’s best hitter in the entire tournament, didn’t want to use the word failure, saying, “At the end of the day, someone has to win and someone has to lose. We came here with the mentality, but it wasn’t what we expected. “They played good ball. Puerto Rico, Venezuela. They played tremendous ball and sometimes you have to take your hat off and see what they did.”
“It was a moving moment,” Soto continued about the elimination and what happened at the clubhouse, as he was rocked by an injury to Puerto Rican closer Edwin Diaz seconds after the challenge ended. “Nobody expected that in the first round we would end up like this. But that’s what God wanted. Several words were said, everyone spoke.
The loss to Puerto Rico was, in many ways, the same as the first game against Venezuela on Saturday, which they stumbled 5-1. In that opener, the quisqueyanos’ powerful offense left 13 runners on base and went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position. On Wednesday against Rubio’s team, they had 2 for 8 at-bats with people in scoring position and seven left firmly on the bases. Aside from meetings against Israel and Nicaragua, the Dominicans made three rounds.
Although Linares repeatedly stated that he took the blame for what happened – “Whoever wants to blame me, let them blame me” – he never stopped regretting those opportunities he didn’t take advantage of for his attack.
In particular, he noted the fifth inning, when his coaches loaded the bases against Alexis Diaz, with the lineup turned over to watch and duel 5-1 in favor of Puerto Rico. But Manny Machado hit a double play, pitching a run, and Rafael Devers moved to third. What seemed like an episode for so long ended in a very short time.
“We had chances to win the match,” Linares noted. “We had bases loaded with no outs, in the middle of the lineup, and we just couldn’t.”
What happened in that episode, offensively, was an X-ray of RD’s bullshit adding what happened against two great opponents in the Caribbean, between Machado and Devers, Julio Rodriguez and Eloy Jimenez (started against PR) and Teoscar Hernandez (started against Venezuela) they went 3 for 32 with no RBIs.
What happened? Linares said after the challenge against Venezuela that he had noticed that his team was “restless” and that it was important for them not to be dominated by the stage.
“I think we didn’t have any worries, we were always struggling,” Soto interjected on Wednesday, flanked by several reporters outside the club. But then he admitted that the Dominicans were “a very small team, and sometimes things accelerated a little bit.”
Soto did not want to refer to Linares either: “The captain does his job. The thing is that I play the ball.”
Linares, according to his analysis, found no reasons to question himself or things he would have done differently.
Bring up a Devers popup? Rodriguez bottom order? Transfer lineup?
“These are the players we have, the players I would play with. I’m a numbers-and-data-based person,” the pilot replied, and the data told me those are the players that I have to play with.” “I go back and repeat: I trusted, or trust the players. They were the best for me at the time. I know we lost the series and no one is more disappointed than me.”
Using a pinch hitter for Francisco Mejia in the bottom of the sixth with two outs and two outs on the turn that mask ended up missing with a fly to right?
“With only one player (on the bench, Gary Sanchez), sometimes you handcuff a lot,” explained Linares. “Late in the game, he can turn on Sugar (Edwin Diaz). We were thinking of saving Jean (Segura) or Teoskar’s bat for this situation.”
He saved them, in fact, to face Diaz in the ninth. With no people on base and after starting the inning from Ketel Mart, the Mets retired Segura and Hernandez rookies with two hits to turn out the GDR lights and send Puerto Rico to the quarterfinals.
It was definitely not the end Linares had imagined. Neither the game nor the classic world.
“Bacon ninja. Travel advocate. Writer. Incurable pop culture expert. Evil zombie geek. Lifelong coffee scholar. Alcohol specialist.”
Official: The United States vs Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League Final Four
Canada defeated Honduras 4-1 in the sixth round of the CONCACAF Nations League international football
The two teams that denounced Barcelona before FIFA in the Marcos Alonso case: They demand a clear investigation