Brewers pitching prospect Jorge Lopez and Team Puerto Rico advanced to the Finals of the 2017 WBC with a 4-3 win over the Netherlands in an entertainingly sloppy, excitingly long game.
If you're a fan of Playing The Game The Right Way or the St. Louis Cardinals, you probably hated this game. There were monster dingers, even bigger bat flips, celebrations after singles, and constant trash talk. It was FUN, and not in the "Fun the Cardinals" kind of way.
The irony here is that Yadier Molina has been one of the stars of the tournament for Puerto Rico. Molina went 1-for-4 in the semifinal game, but has been handling a young pitching staff the entire tournament and made his usual heads-up defensive plays -- including catching Jurickson Profar snoozing off of first base after a single.
Jurickson Profar picked off first base on a single pic.twitter.com/qsENwO3XwM— That Dude (@cjzer0) March 21, 2017
The game ended up going 11 innings, meaning both teams got a chance to take advantage of the "two runners on base to start the inning" rule. As has happened every time the situation has come up this tournament, both teams bunted their runners over to 2nd and 3rd, then the next batter was intentionally walked to load the bases. This tournament has done an excellent job of showing why this rule change would not work at the Major League level, because every single manager would do the same exact thing -- they'd be better off just starting the inning with the bases loaded.
Regardless, the difference in the game ended up being the fact that the Netherlands hit into a double play in the top of the 11th, while Puerto Rico walked off on a sac fly by Eddie Rosario in the bottom half of the inning. That's a lame way to end what was a fun game of baseball, but those are the rules in this tournament.
Still, this was a fun game if you were able to stay up late. Lopez made his final start of the tournament and struggled a bit, throwing 2.2 innings and allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks. He also missed up in the zone quite a bit, including this pitch, which Wladimir Balentein used to begin the most epic bat flip we've seen on American soil.
Puerto Rico would answer with a two-run bomb by Carlos Correa in the bottom half:
Puerto Rico will face the winner of tonight's matchup between the United States and Japan, which starts at 8 p.m. CDT on the MLB Network.