Desperately Needing a Win, Mexico Tops D.R. 9-1 to Stay Alive at Caribbean Series

Aaron Altherr of Mexico’s Naranjeros celebrates at the dogout in the eighth inning, during a game between Mexico and Dominican Republic at loanDepot park Serie del Caribe 2024 on February 4, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Luis Gutierrez/ Norte Photo/Getty Images)

By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

MIAMI- The Naranjeros de Hermosillo of Mexico defeated the Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Republic 9-1 Sunday night on the fourth day of the 2024 Caribbean Series at loanDepot Park in Miami.

The Dominican Republic wasted no time getting on the board in the bottom of the first inning. Robinson Cano drove in the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly to right field to put the D.R. ahead 1-0. Emilio Bonifacio, who reached first on a bunt single, scored on the play.

One batter later, D.R. baserunner Gustavo Nunez was tagged out by Mexico’s third baseman, Augustin Murillo, who faked a throw to first and caught Nunez retreating back to third.

With the bases loaded in the top of the third for Mexico, Aaron Altherr launched a fly ball to left center field that hit the top of the wall for a double, clearing the bases and giving Mexico a 3-1 lead.

Bobby Bradley followed Altherr with a bloop single over shortstop Gustavo Nunez’s head, extending Mexico’s lead to three.

Neither team could muster a run in the fifth inning, but a spectacular leaping grab from 41-year-old second baseman Robinson Cano kept the crowd engaged. Cano is the undisputed unofficial captain of the Dominican Republic and was named the 2013 World Baseball Classic MVP for the DR.

Mexico’s lead jumped to 5-1 in the top of the sixth on a solo home run over the left field fence from Agustin Murillo, his first of the tournament.

Mexico left-handed starter Jeff Kinley ended his night with a nifty pickoff move to catch Dawel Lugo attempting to steal second base. Kinley kept the D.R. lineup in check, allowing just one earned run on six hits in six innings.

Dominican Republic starting pitcher Andy Otero was inefficient, allowing four earned runs in 2.2 innings, including the bases-clearing double to Altherr.

A sacrifice fly by Murillo and a crucial fielding error from D.R. shortstop Gustavo Nunez put Mexico ahead 7-1 in the top of the seventh. Nunez booted a ground ball hit directly at him, allowing Aaron Altherr to score from third.

Mexico added two more in the top of the ninth on a two-run double from Julian Ornelas, and D.R. reliever Pedro Payano’s night was over after walking Altherr one batter later. Mexico took the 9-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth.

Five pitches was all it took for Mexico reliever Luis Marquez to record the final three outs and secure the win for Mexico. The Dominican Republic’s offense looked stagnant for most of the game, and the ninth inning was no different.

It was an impressive win for Mexico, who lost their first three games of the 2024 Caribbean Series, including a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Panama on Saturday.

Mexico (1-3) will face Venezuela (2-1) at 3:30 p.m. EST on Monday, Feb. 5. The Dominican Republic (2-2) does not play Monday and will face Curacao (1-2) at 3:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Every game of the 2024 Caribbean Series is held at loanDepotPark in Miami, Florida, and all games are telecast live on ESPN Deportes and ESPN+.

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