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Puerto Rico ousts two-time champ Japan from the World Baseball Classic, heads to Championship Game

Mar 18, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

World Baseball Classic - Semifinals - Puerto Rico v Japan Getty Images

There will be a new World Baseball Classic champ this year, as Puerto Rico eliminated Japan last night, winning 3-1 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Alex Rios led the charge, singling in a run in the first inning and hitting a two-run homer in the seventh. Puerto Rico starter Mario Santiago shut down the Japanese on two hits over five innings before leaving with forearm stiffness. Japanese starter Kenta Maeda pitched five innings of four-hit ball, one of those being Rios’ RBI. The homer came off reliever Atsushi Nohmi. Japan’s lone run came when Takashi Toritani was singled in after hitting a one-out triple in the eighth, but they then ran themselves out of the inning.

Puerto Rico clearly had the advantage in talent, with guys like Rios, Mike Aviles, Angel Pagan, Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina facing a Japanese lineup with no current major leaguers. Still, in the context of international competition it’s an upset.  And if they’re going to win it all, another upset may very well be required: they face the winner of tonight’s Netherlands-Dominican Republic matchup in tomorrow night’s Championship Game.

  1. mrfloydpink - Mar 18, 2013 at 8:11 AM

    A victory by Puerto Rico may be as close as the U.S. ever gets to winning this thing…

    • heyblueyoustink - Mar 18, 2013 at 8:38 AM

      I don’t know. In between the first couple of dream teams and the last version of the US FIBA team, there was a stretch where the US fielded an inferior squad against the rest of the Basketball playing world/

      I think they need someone at the top who will both inspire the best talents the US has to offer, as well as squash the grumbling of Major league owners and managers and get the proper talent into undertsanding that the WBC *does* matter. Baseball’s version of Jerry Coangelo and a manager, for instance like a Tony LaRussa, who is a proven commodity.

      Put that together and now we’re cooking.

  2. orelmiraculous - Mar 18, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    “Puerto Rico clearly had the advantage in talent, with guys like Rios, Mike Aviles, Angel Pagan, Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina facing a Japanese lineup with no current major leaguers.”

    This statement is just flat-out ignorant. The economic realities of international baseball will almost always dictate that more Puerto Ricans will be in the majors than Japanese players for one simple reason: the economy of Japan is able to support an elite professional league for their own players, the economy of Puerto Rico is not.

    To say that Puerto Rico “clearly had the advantage in talent” because they had more major leaguers is a huge failure of reasoning.

    • spudchukar - Mar 18, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      Point well taken, but give me that Puerto Rican squad, and their competitive experience over the Japanese 9 anytime.

  3. 13arod - Mar 18, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    rios is starting to cath fire

  4. seattlenative57 - Mar 18, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    yawn

  5. jimeejohnson - Mar 19, 2013 at 9:22 PM

    Japan was the home team in San Francisco. Puerto Rico played very well to win this one.

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