By Julian Guilarte
World Baseball Network
Sometimes, you just need a little more.
Down 2-0 in the fifth inning, Curacao had the bases loaded with one out, but only mustered one run and never got any more, falling to Puerto Rico 3-1 at the Caribbean Series Monday.
Puerto Rico had gone back to the bullpen after relief pitcher Fernando Cabrera struggled, giving up a single and two walks early in the fifth. Then Curacao outfielder Sharlon Schoop stepped up and hit an RBI single to make it cut the deficit to 2-1, but Darren Seferina inexplicably got caught up between second base and third base when the second run didn’t score. Caught in no man’s land, Puerto Rico catcher Ruben Castro threw it to second baseman Jesmuel Valentine for the easy out. This left runners on first and third for shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who flew out to end the inning.
Simmons is an 11-year Major Leaguer who played for the Chicago Cubs last season. Simmons is 33, a free agent, and his strongest attribute is defense, having won four Gold Gloves. Curacao has more big-league ties with Detroit Tigers infielder Jonathan Schoop who didn’t play today. His brother Sharlon is 35 years old and has never made the major leagues. Sharlon has played 13 years in the minors with various minor league clubs.
Puerto Rico got their first two runs in the first inning off of Curacao starting pitcher Jordan Lucas. Puerto Rico third baseman Emmanuel Rivers stayed hot with a double. Lucas also gave up a single and intentionally walked a batter to load the bases. Lucas then hit Puerto Rico’s Edwin Díaz and gave up a sacrifice fly to outfielder Daniel Ortiz. Lucas was done after that inning and the Puerto Rico bats were held in check by Curacao’s bullpen until the seventh inning. Catcher Ruben Castro got his second hit and an insurance run to make it 3-1 Puerto Rico.
The Puerto Rico pitching controlled the day, with starter Héctor Hernández setting the tone with four scoreless innings. His final line was four innings pitched, two hits and five strikeouts. Hernández, a 31-year-old lefty, was drafted by the St.Louis Cardinals in 2009. He never made it to the Majors, but got to Triple-A with the Columbus Clippers in 2019. He’s pitched 45 innings in the winter league with an ERA of 2.01 and 37 strikeouts. Puerto Rico reliever Ricardo Gómez got his first save of the tournament, pitching a scoreless ninth and striking out two batters.
Puerto Rico got a much-needed 3-1 win, pushing their record to 2-3. The loss drops Curacao to the same record. Puerto Rico will play Cuba tomorrow at noon ET at La Rinconada, and Curacao will look to rebound against Venezuela at 6:30 ET at Estadio Forum in La Guaira. All games of the 2023 Caribbean Series are available via ESPN Deportes and ESPN+.