If you weren’t able to stay up late last night for the Netherlands-Puerto Rico World Baseball Classic semifinal, you missed a wild affair that featured two baserunning gaffes in the span of the first inning, a pair of two-run first inning homers, one former Oriole relieving another, and, eventually, the wild WBC-only extra inning rules leading to Puerto Rico’s victory.
The bad news for Orioles fans is that if you were rooting for the team with the O’s player on it - Jonathan Schoop is on the Netherlands - you’ve lost that rooting interest. The good news is that now Schoop can get back to O’s camp and not risk injury in one of these games. His Netherlands teammate, Didi Gregorius, leaves the WBC banged up.
The World Baseball Classic remains strange but fun. Where else can you get crucial innings pitched by Rick van den Hurk and clutch hitting produced by Wladimier Balentien? Or two shutout innings by a pitcher named Tom Stuifbergen, or a 7’1” pitcher named Loek van Mil getting into the game?
It was great, but like all good things, it had to come to an end eventually. That end was accelerated by the WBC eleventh inning-and-on rules, where runners start on first and second base with no one out every half inning. In practice, this turns into, the first batter tries to bunt and if successful, the second batter is intentionally walked in order to set up the double play, or at least a force at home plate.
That’s how it worked out for both the Netherlands in the top half of the inning and for Puerto Rico in the bottom half. The big difference is that the Netherlands promptly grounded into an inning-ending double play, whereas for Puerto Rico, after the bases were loaded, Eddie Rosario hit a walkoff sacrifice fly.
It was one of those fly balls that probably shouldn’t have been deep enough to score the run. The Dutch center fielder was Rangers position roamer Jurickson Profar, who has never played a professional inning at that position. He threw the ball like someone who had never played center field before. The run scored. Puerto Rico moves on to Wednesday’s final.
One semifinal game remains. It’s the USA vs. Japan at 9pm. Japan is the home team since they won their pool, where the USA was runner-up to that PR team.
You can watch on MLB Network, or online if you’re an MLB.tv subscriber, or if you want to hear it in Spanish, you can see it on ESPN Deportes.