CAROLINA, P.R.–In case there was any doubt, the Dominican Republic proved which team was the best in the Caribbean Series on Sunday, trouncing Puerto Rico, 12-0.
"We're rolling right now," righthander Jose Lima said. "Really rolling. We just need to keep this up, stay intense. We have all the energy we need."
And the confidence has permeated through the whole team, as those statements came from a guy who spent the night as a cheerleader off the bench. The only way Lima might have gotten tired was from running out to congratulate his teammates as they crossed the plate.
That happened early and often, as the Dominicans rolled out to a 4-0 lead against righthander Jonathan Albaladejo (Pirates). Albaladejo, who spent last season at Double-A Altoona, hadn't pitched since Gigantes clinched the Puerto Rico title two weeks ago and the rust was more than evident.
He gave up a pair of singles to start the game, then walked Miguel Tejada to load the bases. After a pair of RBI groundouts, Jose Fernandez tripled in the Tejada, then Alex Fernandez singled in Jose Fernandez for the fourth run.
The Dominican added another pair of runs in the second against Albaladejo, who struggled with his command and often left his fastball up in the zone, before he was lifted.
The rout continued, and Dominican fans were lined up and ready to pounce on the third base side when the final out was recorded. After that, which was well after 1 a.m. Eastern, the Dominicans stormed the field and celebrated for 30 minutes, jumping up and down while chanting "We want Venezuela! We want Venezuela!"
They'll get their chance Monday, as the Dominicans face their arch rivals in the early game, while Puerto Rico will take on Mexico in the late game.
As for Puerto Rico, who came into this game with so much hope and promise to bring home their first Caribbean Series title since 2000, will have to wait for another shot at the DR. That won't come until Wednesday–the final day of the series–and the Dominicans could have it wrapped up by then.
"This is still a long road," Dominican manager Felix Fermin said. "We need to stay focused, but I am extremely pleased with the dedication all our players have shown and our goal is to win this championship."
• VENEZUELA 13, MEXICO 3: After two losses, Venezuela's offense finally got rolling in a 13-3 win over Mexico. With their first win in the Series, Aragua now faces a crucial game against the Dominican Republic on Monday.
"We've been fighting this whole series and we haven't had much to show for it," Venezuela manager Buddy Bailey said. "Maybe this finally got us in a position where we have the offensive confidence and can build on that."