See also: Caribbean Series Day One
CAROLINA, P.R.–If the Dominican Republic didn’™t already have momentum coming off a dramatic, come-for-behind 18-inning win against Venezuela on Friday, it certainly has it now.
The Dominicans’™ bats sprung to life and perhaps more importantly, the DR got a huge outing from righthander Jose Acevedo (Rockies) to save the bullpen after the marathon opener and shut down Mexico, 9-0.
Acevedo was brilliant, scattering five hits over eight shutout innings before giving way to righthander Jose Capellan (Brewers), who mopped things up with a no-hit, two strikeout inning of work.
And then there were the bats. The DR pounded out 14 hits, led by third baseman Tony Batista’™s two-home run, four-RBI performance. Things got started with two outs in the third, as Miguel Tejada singled in Bernie Castro from third for a 1-0 lead.
Batista then came up and launched a two-run homer to left and was followed by a Nelson Cruz solo shot that landed just to the right of the 404-feet mark in dead center.
Cruz’™s homer came on the first pitch he saw, and it gave the DR a 4-0 lead. And still–after those two mistakes–Mexico manager Lorenzo Bundy stuck with righthander Pablo Ortega.
That proved to be a mistake in the fifth, as Anderson Hernandez (Mets) doubled to lead off the inning, then Luis Polonia singled, giving the Dominican Republic runners on the corners, no outs, and Tejada striding to the plate.
Ortega worked a 1-2 count to the Orioles star before uncorking a wild pitch which allowed Hernandez to score from third. Tejada then grounded out to the right side of the infield, moving Polonia to third.
That’™s when Batista came through again with a line drive into the left field corner. Mexico left fielder Derek White had trouble digging out the ball–which appeared to be wedged between the turf and the wall–and Batista came trucking home with an inside-the-park home run and a 7-0 lead.
The DR added another pair in the sixth off reliever Luther Hackman, but those runs were just padding–Acevedo was cruising. The 29-year-old righthander struck out six and walked two over his eight innings, and located extremely well with his fastball.
“Early in the game I battled staying sharp because of the heat,” Acevedo said. “I was just trying to command my fastball and mix in sliders and two-seamers to keep hitters off-balance.”
Most impressive, Acevedo went into attack mode with the lead, feeding Mexican hitters a steady diet of four-seam fastballs and ultimately pumping up this Dominican team even more.
“We definitely have a lot of energy on this team and that starts with guys like (Anderson) Hernandez and veteran guys like (Luis) Polonia and (Jose) Lima,” Acevedo said. “So far things have been going well and I hope they continue that way so we can win a championship for our country.”
• PUERTO RICO 6, VENEZUELA 3
Speaking of momentum, hometown Carolina also is riding the wave after downing Venezuela, 6-3 in the night game on Saturday.
With the score tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh inning, Puerto Rico erupted for three runs, and righthanded reliever Bubbie Buzachero (Indians) shut down the Venezuela offense in the bottom half of the inning to take the wind out of Aragua’™s attack.
With one run in, Puerto Rico manager brought in Buzachero, who sent down the final two batters in the inning to preserve a 5-3 lead.
Buzachero sent Venezuela down in order in the eighth, and after his offense provided one more run in the ninth, he got out of a two-men on, no out jam to finish off Venezuela.
The big showdown happens Sunday, as the Dominican Republic (2-0) hosts Puerto Rico (2-0) in the late game, while Mexico (0-2) and Venezuela (0-2) fight during the afternoon to see which one enters the win column.