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Puerto Rico victory soured by Edwin Diaz injury

  • Manuel Gómez - East Coast Contributor & Podcast Director Manuel Gómez, East Coast Contributor & Podcast Director
  • March 16, 2023

Favored Dominican Republic ousted in tough Pool D

Some in the Dominican Republic community described the Dominican’s loss to Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic as a national tragedy.

In reality, the injury to Puerto Rico closer Edwin Diaz should put everything in perspective for everybody.

The closest thing to a tragedy Wednesday night at loanDepot Stadium was the right knee injury Diaz suffered while he and his teammates celebrated their 5-2 victory over the Dominican.

With a roster full of superstars like Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Sandy Alcantara and Rafael Devers, the Dominican was listed as one of the favorites to win the WBC.

Unfortunately for the Dominican and their fans, they couldn’t make it out of the first round.

Calling the failure to advance a national tragedy ignores how impressive the teams in Pool D truly were. It’s insulting to bemoan a loss to teams like Venezuela and Puerto Rico in this way. 

These are teams that feature All-Stars, Silver Sluggers, and Gold Glove winners just like team Dominicana. Venezuela’s roster includes at least two future Hall of Famers, former American League MVPs Jose Altuve and Miguel Cabrera.

What ended the Dominican Republic’s run was an inability to come up with timely hits. Dominican batters went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position against Puerto Rico.

Ultimately, Dominican manager Rodney Linares took full responsibility for his team’s performance.

“As the manager of the team, I take all the blame for the loss,” he said. “The guys left everything out on the field. I don’t know what else to tell you.”

Edwin Diaz slams the door

Diaz, the Mets’ All-Star closer, encouraged his team’s dugout and Puerto Rico fans at Miami’s loanDepot Park to get up after he struck out Jean Segura for the second out of the ninth inning. He still had one out to collect, but it felt like a foregone conclusion.

With Puerto Rico leading the Dominican Republic 5-2, All-Star Teoscar Hernandez came up to bat. After throwing nine pitches to Hernandez, Diaz delivered the final blow, a slider that nicked the inside corner for a called third strike.

It was a postseason atmosphere inside of loanDepot park. From the first pitch, the energy never relented in the win-or-go-home game between the Caribbean rivals.

Puerto Rico advanced to face Pool C winners Mexico.

Manager Yadier Molina spoke about what It took to eliminate the Dominican.

“The effort, the preparation, the mind, and the heart,” he said in Spanish. “We worked hard and it all came together for us tonight.”

A heart-wrenching end

It was a bittersweet victory for Puerto Rico. The Boricuas’ postgame on-field celebration ended almost as quickly as it began. After dominating Dominican hitters in the bottom of the ninth, Diaz suffered an injury to his right knee while celebrating with his teammates.

With his brother Alexis in tears, Diaz had to be escorted off the field in a wheelchair while his brother and teammates looked on helplessly in tears.

When asked what the atmosphere inside Puerto Rico’s locker room was like after the win, Kiké Hernandez described it as “quiet.”

Though he could not provide an update on Diaz’s injury, Molina echoed a sentiment echoed throughout the baseball world.

“It sucks,” he said. “When you see a guy who works so hard like Edwin – when you see him on the ground like that, it’s sad.”

The New York Mets confirmed that Diaz suffered an injury to his right knee. According to the team, he will undergo imaging later today.

Ultimately, Diaz’s injury was the real tragedy of the night for both teams and baseball fans.

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