Dominican Republic vs. USA: Score, Grades, Analysis for World Baseball Classic
With a berth in the World Baseball Classic semifinals on the line, the Dominican Republic went to battle with Team USA in Miami. As fate would have it, we saw a fierce battle until the bitter end.
So who emerged victorious with their dreams of a WBC championship on the line?
Team USA struck early, loading the bases in the first inning behind singles from Brandon Phillips, Joe Mauer and Giancarlo Stanton. With Samuel Deduno rattled, first baseman Eric Hosmer took a responsible at-bat and walked in the first run of the game.
Half of an inning later, Hanley Ramirez tied it all up with a blast to left field.
Samuel Deduno, Dominican Republic
Overall Grade: B+
Stat Line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 7 SO, 2 BB
It didn't start pretty, but Samuel Deduno got the job done for the Dominican Republic after what appeared to be a rough start in the making.
Deduno retired two of the first three batters he faced. With a 1-2 advantage over Joe Mauer, however, Deduno allowed the Minnesota Twin to single to left field.
From there, Deduno let Giancarlo Stanton load the bases with an infield single. With Eric Hosmer at the plate, things got worse, as Deduno walked in the first run of the game.
After the first inning, however, Deduno recovered. He struck out seven batters and recovered from an Adam Jones stolen base to get out of the inning with three straight outs.
It started rough, but the 29-year-old recovered in a nice way.
R.A. Dickey, United States
Overall Grade: A-
Stat Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 4 SO, 1 BB
Outside of a second-inning home run by Hanley Ramirez, R.A. Dickey was absolutely remarkable for Team USA. Allowing just five hits and no runs other than the homer proves such.
Dickey retired the first four batters he faced. Despite allowing the Dominican Republic to get runners on base, he stepped up and kept them away from home plate.
It was this clutch pitching that kept the U.S. tied at 1-1 when Dickey left the mound. A pleasant bounce-back from his opening performance.
Hanley Ramirez, Dominican Republic
Overall Grade: A
Stat Line:1/4, R, HR, RBI, 2 SO
With the Dominican Republic in an early 1-0 hole, Hanley Ramirez stepped up to the plate against former divisional foe R.A. Dickey. The knuckleballer had thrown a perfect first inning and struck out the first batter he faced in the second.
None of that seemed to matter once Ramirez blasted a 451-foot monster to left field. 1-1.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, that was one of the longest home runs in the short history of Marlins Park. You know, the stadium Ramirez used to call home.
One last kiss goodbye.
The Hanley Ramirez HR had a "true distance" of 451 feet-- the 4th-longest HR hit in Marlins Park since it opened last season.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 15, 2013
A deep bomb for Ramirez and a game-changer for the Dominican Republic.
Eric Hosmer, United States
Overall Grade: B+
Stat Line: 0/3, RBI, BB, SO
During a game in which runs were tough to come by, Eric Hosmer put the Americans on the board early. Although he failed to put a bat on the ball, the Kansas City Royals first baseman put on a marvelous first-inning at-bat.
With Samuel Deduno rattled, Hosmer took his time and walked in the first run of the game.
During the sixth inning, Hosmer's effort and dedication were on full display. He beat out an errant throw by shortstop Jose Reyes and reached base on the error.
Without a full sprint up the first base line, however, Hosmer may not have experienced that reward.
Nelson Cruz, Dominican Republic
Overall Grade: A+
Stat Line: 2/4, R, 2 2B
Nelson Cruz couldn't have played much better than he did against Team USA.
During the top of the fourth inning, Cruz attempted to break up R.A. Dickey's brilliance with a double to deep center field. Although the big man failed to score, he provided the power in the middle of the lineup that the D.R. expects from him.
In the ninth inning, he proved to be clutch as well.
Matched up against reigning Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Craig Kimbrel, Cruz launched another one. This time, the ball landed in right center and Cruz huffed and puffed his way to second.
Erick Aybar rewarded Cruz's efforts with an RBI single. In turn, Cruz scored the game-deciding run with a berth in the semifinals on the line.
An incredible performance by a player whose clutch hitting nearly trumped his power.
Craig Kimbrel, United States
Overall Grade: F
Stat Line: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 SO
Craig Kimbrel is one of the best pitchers in the world today. He's the reigning Rolaids Relief Man of the Year and has displayed incredible poise under pressure throughout his career.
Against the Dominican Republic, however, Kimbrel fell short.
The first pitch Kimbrel threw went flying into right center, allowing Nelson Cruz to pick up an inning-starting double. After getting Carlos Santana to ground out, Kimbrel had to watch as Cruz moved to third.
With a 1-2 advantage on Erick Aybar, Kimbrel slipped up and allowed the Los Angeles Angel to send it into right field for the go-ahead RBI.
After allowing Aybar to steal second, Kimbrel then lost focus against Jose Reyes and allowed yet another run. This put the U.S. in a 3-1 hole and ended Kimbrel's evening.
An excellent player with a poor outing.
Erick Aybar, Dominican Republic
Overall Grade: A+
Stat Line:1/1, R, RBI, SB
For eight innings, Erick Aybar sat on the bench as Miguel Tejada stepped into the starting lineup. In one inning, Aybar managed to win the game for the Dominican Republic.
Pinch hitting and base running at its finest.
With Nelson Cruz on second and one out in the ninth inning, Aybar stepped up to the plate against revered closer Craig Kimbrel. After falling into a 1-2 hole, Aybar took a deep breath, stepped into the box and cracked an RBI single to right field to put the Dominican Republic up 2-1 in the top of the ninth.
Moments later, Aybar took off and stole second base. That's right: an RBI and a stolen base in his only inning of action.
And then he scored on a Jose Reyes single to give the Dominican Republic a 3-1 lead. Our Player of the Game played one inning.
A phenomenal spot appearance by Aybar.