Stage set for Dominican-Dutch rematch
DR looks to avenge early loss; Netherlands hopes it has one last upset
By Will Gonzalez / Special to MLB.com
The loser of the game is eliminated from the tournament. The winner earns the right to go to Miami and play in Round 2 of the Classic.
The Dominican team is energized after its 9-0 win over Panama on Sunday. Prior to that game, it was in a collective funk, having scored only four runs in 27 innings (including exhibition games against Major League clubs).
There is still more lumber waiting to be fired up in the Dominican lineup, however. Unlikely heroes Miguel Olivo (two home runs and five RBIs) and Nelson Cruz (a home run) powered the Dominican attack against Panama, but other bats in the lineup have yet to wake up.
"Anybody can win a game for the team," said Olivo after the victory. "Today, it was me and Cruz. But it could have been [David Ortiz] or [Miguel] Tejada."
Despite its 3-2 loss to the Dutch in Game 1, the Dominican pitching has been strong in its first two games in the Classic. The three runs that the Netherlands scored against it were unearned. The relief corps have not ceded a run of any kind, yielding only four hits.
Dominican manager Felipe Alou is delighted to have right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez start for his team.
"He has a repertoire that is incredibly powerful," said Alou of Jimenez. "He is a young pitcher, who, last season, was one of the best pitchers in the National League in the second half of the season."
The Netherlands team will go to the game in high spirits, despite a narrow 3-1 loss to Puerto Rico on Monday night. The Dutch were just five outs away from upsetting the host team before its 1-0 lead vanished in the eighth.
Dutch manager Rod Delmonico is confident that his team can measure up with the Dominican squad, especially after the way the Netherlands played against Puerto Rico.
"I think that we are going to do the same thing as we have done in the last two games," Delmonico said. "We are going to play the hardest we can. It all starts with pitching. We feel that we have a great pitcher [Tommy Stuifbergen] starting tomorrow for us. We are not going to change anything. We will come out and play the way we played in the last two games."
Right-handed reliever Juan Carlos Sulbaran, who struck out Ivan Rodriguez with three pitches when Puerto Rico had runners on first and third with two outs in the sixth inning and retired Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded in the seventh, is not eligible to pitch for the Netherlands in the game against the Dominican Republic. Sulbaran, 19, threw 30 pitches on Monday, and the rules of the Classic preclude a pitcher to throw on consecutive days after he throws 30 pitches or more.