Dominicans exit after hard-fought battle
Jimenez dominant, but DR's Achilles' heel serves loss in extras
By Will Gonzalez / Special to MLB.com
A fielding error by first baseman Willy Aybar allowed the Netherlands to come from behind in the bottom of the 11th inning in a game marked by great pitching by both sides, but marred by errors at the end.
Aybar was unable to field a sharply hit ground ball by Yurrendell de Caster, allowing Eugene Kingsale to score from third base. Kingsale reached third when Carlos Marmol threw away an attempted pickoff while Kingsale was at first base after reaching on a single, which had scored pinch-hitter Sidney de Jong to tie the game at 1.
In the top of the 11th, a fielding error by Kingsale allowed Jose Reyes to score for the Dominican squad from first base, breaking a scoreless tie. Jose Bautista hit the ball to Kingsale, who dove to try to catch it, but the ball slid past him all the way to the warning track.
Before the game went to extras, the Netherlands' pitching staff continued to surprise the baseball world by the way that it had handled the Dominicans' powerful lineup of Major League stars. Dutch starter Tom Stuifbergen allowed five hits in four innings of scoreless work. Alexander Smit, Rob Cordemas, Dennis Neuman, Diegomar Markwell and Leon Boyd combined to pitch seven innings of relief, allowing only two hits and no earned runs. The quintet of Dutch relievers scattered five walks.
"We didn't hit," said Dominican manager Felipe Alou after the defeat. "We had a couple of plays in the last innings -- two plays that were not big league quality. But [the Netherlands] played baseball that was practically perfect against us. I want to congratulate them and their coaches and their manager."
Dominican starter Ubaldo Jimenez was even more impressive than the Dutch. He established a new World Baseball Classic strikeout record, striking out 10 of the 13 batters he faced in his four innings. The former record of eight strikeouts in a Classic game was set by Japanese starter Koji Uehara in the 2006 Classic. Jimenez allowed two hits, but he did not walk a batter.
"When I came to tonight's game I was focused on getting ahead of the batters to get them out quickly," said Jimenez. "No one before a game thinks about striking out nine or 10 batters. You never think that. You only think about attacking each batter and trying to play a good game."
Pedro Martinez also pitched well for the Dominican squad. He relieved Jimenez in the fifth inning. He did not allow a hit, a walk or a run, but he did hit a batsman in three innings of work.
"I am leaving with my head held high," said Martinez. "I am going to frame my jersey, because I want to keep it for my family, my children and my country, because I got to represent my country at least once."
Martinez's participation in this Classic was the only time in his baseball career that he represented his country in an international event.
Tony Peña, Rafael Perez and Damaso Marte followed Martinez before Alou gave the ball to Marmol in the bottom of the 11th inning. Peña, Perez and Marte combined for three innings of relief in which they did not allow a walk. Marte was the only one of the trio to allow a hit.
Marmol was tagged with a blown save and the loss.
Will Gonzalez is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.