The Dominican Republic baseball team won all eight games they played across 13 days en route to their World Baseball Classic championship. Stellar pitching, strong management and an All Star caliber lineup that was able to produce each and every night aided them, but three players with a Canadian connection shined bright.
There were three Toronto Blue Jays that played a prominent role on the 2013 edition of the Dominican Republic team that claimed the World Baseball Classic title on Tuesday night. Shortstop Jose Reyes, first baseman Edwin Encarnacion and Moises Sierra are all employed by the Toronto Blue Jays, but hail from the Dominican Republic and proudly represented their country during the tournament.
Throughout their undefeated tournament, there were a number of players who emerged as leaders and potential MVP candidates. The eventual MVP, Robinson Cano, posted a .469 average including 25 total bases over eight games. He was the undeniable offensive leader of the championship team, but the Blue Jays contingent of players made their mark as well.
Jose Reyes finished the tournament with a .314 average while hitting out of the leadoff spot for the Dominican Republic. Edwin Encarnacion was unable to find his home run swing in the tournament but did finish with a .250 average and 6 RBI.
The third leg to the Blue Jays tripod was Moises Sierra, who spent the early part of the tournament fighting for a starting role on the team. It was in the championship rounds, when the stakes were greatest, that he and his Blue Jays teammates shined brightest.
Sierra was not guaranteed any playing time heading into the semi-final game against the Netherlands, but he found himself starting in left field. He made an early impact by diving into the crowd to make a highlight reel catch for the final out of the first inning, and the Dominican Republic rolled from there.
They went on to win that game 4-1 and advance to the finals against Puerto Rico. Three of the four runs were credited to hitters via RBI—one to each of Reyes, Encarnacion and Sierra.
The World Baseball Classic final was on a rainy evening in San Francisco, but nothing could slow down these passionate Dominicans.
On the first at-bat of the game, Jose Reyes hit a double. Three batters later his Blue Jays teammate, Edwin Encarnacion, hit another double that brought Reyes and Cano home. It was 2-0 Dominican Republic, thanks in large part to Blue Jays, at the end of the first inning.
When it mattered most, the Blue Jays came through for the Dominican Republic, and their performance was not lost on their MLB teammates. Throughout the tournament Jose Bautista took to twitter to share his Blue Jays and Dominican pride with the world.
The fact that these players were able to contribute to their team’s success on such a large stage is excellent news for excited Blue Jays fans.
Reyes, Sierra and Encarnacion will now return to Blue Jays spring training camp to get ready for Opening Day on April 2nd. Although Sierra will most likely start the season in the minors, he already has MLB experience and a WBC championship. Not bad for a 24 year old.
Imagine the damage this team could have done if a fourth Blue Jay, Jose Bautista, was on the roster as well.
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