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Caribbean Series: Mexico Comes Back To Top D.R. 5-4

 Leif Skodnick  |    Feb 2nd, 2023 10:54pm EST

By Julian Guilarte
World Baseball Network

Mexico opened the 2023 Caribbean Series with an improbable 5-4 win against the Dominican Republic in the first game at the new Estadio La Rinconada in Caracas, Venezuela Thursday.

Cañeros de Los Mochis is representing Mexico in the Caribbean Series after winning the Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacifico championship, while powerhouse Tigres Del Licey is the Dominican Republic’s entry after winning the LIDOM final series.

The Dominican Republic got off to a great start, getting three runs against Mexico starter Braulio Torres-Perez in the first five innings. Kelvin Gutierrez got the D.R. on the board with an RBI groundout in the top of the second, and Webster Rivas followed with an RBI double for a 2-0 lead. Robinson Cano grounded into a double play that scored a run in the top of the third, giving the Dominican Republic a 3-0 lead.

Torres-Perez allowed six hits and only struck out one batter. Mexico got one run in the fourth after Justin Dean hit an RBI double. Down 3-1, Mexico had an uphill battle to fight once Torres-Perez was pulled from the game, but the bullpen was lights out, giving up just one unearned run in the sixth on a Mel Rojas Jr. sacrifice bunt. 

Mexico got one run off Dominican starter Raul Valdes in the seventh to make it a 4-2 game on Reynaldo Rodriguez’ solo shot. Rodriguez hit an epic blast over the left field wall for the first home run in La Rinconada. Rodriguez had four home runs and 25 RBI in the LAMP this season.

Valdes had a stellar outing, pitching seven innings, allowing just two runs, five hits and striking out two batters before being lifted in favor of reliever Fernando Abad.

Abad got into trouble when Robinson Cano made a critical mistake at second base that won’t show up in the box score. Cano missed a pop-up that fell in behind him, and center fielder Emilio Bonifacio also couldn’t make the play. Cano has had a rough winter that has seen him go homerless in over 80 at-bats. This play gave Mexico extra outs and opened up the floodgates in the eighth. 

Rodriguez continued his big afternoon with an RBI double to make it 4-3. Mexico sent up pinch hitter Irving López. López delivered a huge go-ahead RBI double to give Mexico a 5-3 lead in the eighth. López had two home runs and 20 RBI in the Mexican League.  Mexico was able to close it out with an improbable 5-4 win. Samuel Zaueta and Jake Sanchez combined to get the last six outs for Mexico. Shortstop Roberto Valenzuela made a nice play with first baseman Reynaldo Rodríguez scooping it to get the second out in the ninth against third baseman Kelvin Gutierréz.

The Dominican Republic will play Cuba tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. at Estadio Forum La Guaira. Mexico will play Curaçao tomorrow at 6 p.m. at La Rinconada. Every game of the 2023 Caribbean Series is available via ESPN Deportes and ESPN+. 

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Leif Skodnick