The Dominican Republic Beat the United States 3-1 Thursday to move on to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic. The Dominicans scored twice in the ninth inning off Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel to seal the victory.
Nelson Cruz doubled to start the ninth inning and advanced to third on a groundout. Erick Aybar then stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter for the Dominican Republic and delivered. Aybar singled in Cruz to take a 2-1 lead.
After taking the lead, Aybar stole second and was driven in by Jose Reyes with two outs to give the Dominicans a cushion going into the bottom half of the ninth. Fernando Rodney came in and shut down the Americans for his fourth save of the WBC. Rodney has yet to give up a hit in the tournament.
The United States has been led by David Wright’s big performances until Thursday when he was scratched with a sore back. Willie Bloomquist filled in for Wright, going 0-for-2 at the plate.
Team USA starter R.A. Dickey pitched five solid innings, giving up one run off a Hanley Ramirez solo home run in the second. The United States only run came in the first when Eric Hosmer walked with the bases loaded to bring in Brandon Phillips.
Minnesota Twins prospect Samuel Deduno got the start for the Dominicans and pitched well, giving up the one run in the first and striking out seven. Deduno was followed by Kelvin Herrerra and Octavio Dotel, who combined to pitch three hitless innings.
Pedro Strop came to the mound in the eighth inning and gave up a single to Joe Mauer, but nothing more as the Americans bats stayed quiet all night. Strop got the win for the Dominicans who move on to San Francisco for the final round.
The loss against the Dominican Republic for the United States forces them to play again Friday in another match-up with Puerto Rico. The Americans handled Puerto Rico in a 7-1 win Tuesday.
Team USA manager Joe Torre gave the Dominicans credit for beating one of the best closers in the game in Craig Kimbrel.
“They beat our closer, there’s not much you can say,” Torre explained in a press conference after the loss. ” They beat a great one. This kid (Kimbrel), he is something special now. He’s gonna only get better.”
The United States will have to beat Puerto Rico Friday if they hope to get another chance at the Dominican Republic. The Dominicans are undefeated in the WBC and have one of the most talented lineups featuring Robinson Cano, Hanley Ramirez, and Jose Reyes.
Japan and the Netherlands were the first two teams to advance to the semifinals, and the Dominicans will now join them as they wait for the final spot to be filled. The Dominican Republic beat the United States to keep the Americans from making an early trip to San Francisco, and Team USA must win Friday if they have any plans of making the trip at all.