A nightmarish start didn’t stop Mexico, and they are now heading to the World Baseball Classic semifinals for the first time after Friday’s 5-4 win over Puerto Rico.
The game started with four runs for Puerto Rico in the top of the first inning, including back-to-back homers from Javier Baez and Eddie Rosario. Puerto Rico, who reached the game in excruciating fashion, was Mexico’s best pitcher anywhere Julio Urias, the Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander who won the ERA National League title last season.
Mexico fell apart from there. Urias, Javier Assad, JoJo Romero, Jake Sanchez and Giovany Gallegos did not allow a run after the first inning, with Sanchez getting an assist from WBC star Randy Arozarena on an extra hit in the eighth inning.
In case you were wondering how much these players care about the WBC, Arozarena says Fox’s Ken Rosenthal that he puts this strike above any home run he hit in MLB, including the three he hit in the 2020 World Series:
“It was better than any home run I’ve ever hit in the big leagues,” he said. “It was better than the home run I hit in the World Series. That hold was the best.
The offense came in spurts in this quarterfinal, with Mexican third baseman Isaac Paredes, who plays for the Tampa Bay Rays, putting his country on the board in the second inning with a solo home run. Alex Verdugo provided Mexico’s second inning with a base-loaded single in the fifth inning, and that was followed by the true damage in the seventh.
Paredes, who reached base four times, scored a single with the bases loaded and two outs to tie the game. Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Luis Urias followed with a single to give Mexico the lead:
Mexico, who reached the quarter-finals with a top spot in Pool C, will now face mighty Japan on Monday in Miami on Fox Sports 1. With a win in that game, they would get either the United States, Venezuela or Cuba. in the WBC 2023. final.