This Venezuela looks up for something big. After several discreet performances despite having strong selections, this version of 2023 is announced to fight like never before and has at least put the rest of the participants in the World Baseball Classic on notice. La Vinotinto did not believe in Team Rubio and beat Puerto Rico 9-6 on Sunday night supported by an offense that never ceases to generate fire and a Pablo López who knew the mound at loanDepot Park as if it were his second home .
Between López’s dominance, the presence of a Miguel Cabrera who became the only player with a presence in the five classics and an irrepressible Salvador Pérez with the wood, Venezuela won its second victory in Group D and practically secured the ticket to the quarterfinals. finals in front of 35,615 fans.
Now the other powers in the key of Miami, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic wake up this Monday with a defeat and therefore the clash between the two squads on Wednesday to close the qualifying phase acquires capital importance. In the same first inning, Venezuela overwhelmed Puerto Rico with tremendous force, as if they did not want to leave anything to the possible reaction of a powerful team, with a powerful four-run offense against starter José Berrios.
The South Americans lit up their first run with a hit from catcher Salvador Pérez and then took command of the game with a three-run homer for Anthony Santander, who already has two in this tournament. For the second episode, Berrios was taken off the mound, because it was evident that he lacked his best weapons to contain the Venezuelans, but his replacement Fernando Cruz would not do well either, because Pérez would sound the wood again, although in a more resounding way. .
The masked man, a true leader in every sense of the word and who knows the meaning of the word win, fired a round stick with two men in circulation that raised the fans of his land from their seats, but that froze the Puerto Rican blood. Puerto Rico, however, did not leave without at least putting something on the board and in the lower part of the inning Eddie Rosario took a ball from the park from López, but without major consequences due to the bulk of the markings, when the game was still very young.
Venezuela would not stop in seven and for the fourth inning another score would arrive with a single inside David Peralta’s infield that would open the doors of home plate for Pérez, who had reached base with a double between center and right.
Without losing their pulse, the red wine squad added a ninth run in the fifth inning with a double by Pérez -at that point with a pair of biangulars, a single and a home run- that brought Ronald Acuna from the starting lineup and heralded a knockout for the boricuas Shortly after, López masterfully closed his job of 4.2 innings of work under a standing ovation that he will remember as long as he lives, since Venezuelans and Puerto Ricans alike rose to applaud him in the same stadium where he made himself known.
One of the main pieces of the Marlins’ rotation in past seasons, López closed his performance with just one to his own, two hits, six strikeouts and zero walks, numbers that say only part of his greatness on this day. The knockout would not come because in the sixth Kike Hernández would hit an RBI hit in the second for Puerto Rico and then Emmanuel Rivera would create space for his club’s third with a solid line before a connection by Javy Báez through the box meant the fourth and Rosario bring in the fifth with a sacrifice fly.
Puerto Rico did not stop there and drove in its sixth of the game with a double by MJ Meléndez in the eighth, but what promised to be a rebellion along the entire line came to nothing when reliever Silvino Bracho forced Rosario to connect into a double play with men on first and third. Beyond any consideration, about winner and loser, this game can be remembered as a classic within the Classic.