By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
An aging star contributed the go-ahead RBI and solid pitching paced the Dominican Republic to a 3-1 victory over Cuba on the second day of the 2023 Caribbean Series.
Five pitchers combined to spread seven hits across nine innings for the Dominican Republic, allowing just one run and one walk while striking out two, and Robinson Cano drove in the winning run with a single in the top of the third inning in the win at Estadio Forum La Guaira. Both teams are now 1-1 in the 2023 Caribbean Series.
Luis Barrera walked to lead off the top of the third for the Dominican Republic, then advanced to third on Gustavo Nunez’ single to center. When Cuban catcher Yosvani Alarcon attempted a snap throw to second that went through to the outfield, Barrera scampered home for a 1-0 lead. After Emilio Bonifacio walked, the Major League veteran Cano ripped an RBI single to left, scoring Nunez and advancing Bonifacio to third.
It was a sign of life from Cano, probably the biggest name in this Caribbean Series for American fans, who’s winter season has been less than stellar. The former New York Yankees and Mets star was homerless in 82 at bats with Estrellas Orientales in the LIDOM this winter, batting .256 with six RBI in 21 games and joined Tigres del Licey for the Caribbean Series as a reinforcement.
Cano, 40, is a Major League free agent carrying the baggage of two previous performance enhancing drug suspensions, and a terrible showing in 2022, when he batted .150/.183/.190 with one homer run and four RBI in 33 games with the Mets, San Diego Padres, and Atlanta Braves. A good Caribbean Series might be able to get Cano a Spring Training invitation from a Major League team that needs a middle infielder and thinks Cano has something left in the tank.
The RBI single by Cano brought an end to Cuban starter Jonathan Carbo’s day after just 2.1 innings pitched with two runs, two hits, and two walks given up.
Kelbis Rodriguez entered the game with one out and runners at the corners, quickly getting Ramon Hernandez to ground out to short, scoring Bonifacio.
Cuba cut the deficit in the bottom of the fifth when Guillermo Aviles singled to left and then was driven home by Andres de la Cruz’ RBI double to left field, making it 3-1.
After singles from Webster Rivas and Emilio Bonifacio put runners at first and second for the Dominican Republic in the top of the seventh, Cuba manager Armando Johnson lifted Rodriguez after he threw 4.1 innings of shutout ball, allowing six hits and striking out three, opting to bring in left hander Miguel Paradelo to face the left-handed batting Cano. Paradelo got Cano to ground out to second on a first-pitch fastball to end the inning.
Dominican starter Domingo Robles went five innings, allowing five hits and a run, earning the win. Former New York Met Yennsy Diaz, Keury Mella, Jonathan Aro, and Jairo Asencio combined to throw four innings of two-hit shutout baseball in relief of Robles.
The Dominican Republic will face Puerto Rico at 1 p.m. ET tomorrow at Estadio Forum La Guaira, while Cuba faces Venezuela at 7:30 p.m. at La Rinconada. Every game of the 2023 Caribbean Series is available via ESPN Deportes and streamed on ESPN+.