Veteran starter Raul Valdes threw five shutout innings for the Dominican Republic, striking out seven Curacao batters and walking none on Tuesday. (Photo Courtesy of the CBPC)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
MIAMI – It was a matchup of David versus Goliath, but this time, Goliath won.
The Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Republic, one of Latin American baseball’s titans, took down an up-and-coming Caribbean Series underdog, defeating Curacao 2-0 on Tuesday afternoon.
Five D.R. pitchers combined to hold Curacao to just two hits – the only two baserunners the tiny island in the southern Caribbean would get.
Veteran starter Raul Valdes threw five scoreless innings, allowing two hits, striking out seven and walking none, and Fernando Abad, Neftali Feliz, Jean Carlos Mejia, and Jairo Asencio combined to throw four scoreless innings out of the pen, allowing just one hit, a one-out single by Roger Bernadina in the top of the ninth.
Valdes got through five innings throwing just 71 pitches – 43 for strikes – before being lifted from the game by Dominican Republic manager Gilbert Gomez. His seven strikeouts left the 46-year-old Cuban hurler one short of the career Caribbean Series strikeout record held by Juan Pizarro, who struck out 62 Caribbean Series batters in his career.
With the win, the Dominican Republic improved to 3-2 at the Caribbean Series, and can secure a berth in the semifinals with a win against Panama.
Should they lose to Panama, the D.R. would be 3-3 and would likely need to prevail in a tiebreaker to advance to the semifinals. The Caribbean Series uses the Total Quality Balance formula to break ties, a calculation that utilizes run differential and innings played on both offense and defense.
When he came out of the game, Valdes was one strikeout short of the single-game strikeout record
With runners on first and second in the bottom of the fourth, Dawel Lugo ripped a one-out single to left to score Gustavo Nunez and give the Dominican Republic a 1-0 lead.
The one run was all the Dominican Republic would needIn the bottom of the eighth, Robinson Cano hit a sacrifice fly to center that scored Emilio Bonifacio to give the D.R. a 2-0 lead.
Curacao must win their final game, a 10:30 a.m. matchup with Puerto Rico (3-2) to have a chance to advance. They would also need to win a tiebreaker, and the more runs by which they beat Puerto Rico would likely dictate whether or not they advance.
The Caribbean Series is telecast on ESPN Deportes and ESPN+.