By Matthew Tallarini
Chief Correspondent, World Baseball Network
Dec. 7, 2022
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Puerto Rico rode a strong pitching performance from starter Jose Burgos to grab their first victory of the 2022 Caribbean Cup Tuesday night.
Burgos threw just 80 pitches over 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball, allowing just one hit, striking out four and walking four in Puerto Rico’s 6-0 win over Cuba.
“I was always on top of hitters and my defense always helped me out throughout the game,” Burgos said after the game, with teammate Miguel Egea translating. “Since I started warming up, my plan was to stay on top of hitters, and everything worked out.”
With a strong contingent of Puerto Rican fans in the stands at Andre Rodgers Baseball Stadium, Burgos and Puerto Rico had steeled themselves for a higher level of play at the Caribbean Cup, and delivered against Cuba.
“I just knew the game was coming up to a little bit more of a [higher level],” Burgos said. “We’re doing this for the Puerto Rican fans.”
Jose Ortiz led off the top of the fourth with a double down the left field line, scoring from third three batters later when Cuban catcher Yunior Ibarra threw the ball away trying to catch Pedro Nazario stealing second.
Puerto Rico pressed harder in the top of the fifth, when Luis Navarro drove a single to right center, scoring Jeffrey Dominguez to take a 2-0 lead. A few batters later, Ruben Castro singled to center, and Navarro came around to score, making it a 3-0 Puerto Rico.
Cuba manager Armando Johnson would go to the bullpen early, lifting Rodriguez in the game during the fifth inning. Rodriguez pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing five hits, two earned runs, walking three batters, and striking out three.
Relivers Oscar Rivera and Josue Montanez combined to shut down Cuba the rest of the way, not allowing a runner to reach base after Burgos was lifted in the seventh.
Puerto Rico will play the United States Virgin Islands on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Cuba will look to bounce back against the Bahamas on Wednesday at 7 p.m.