When is a perfect game not a perfect game? When it only lasts eight innings.
That’s what happened in Miami Monday night when Puerto Rico blanked Israel 10-0 in a game shortened to eight innings due to the World Baseball Classic’s mercy rule. Four Puerto Rico pitchers combined to retire all 24 batters they faced.
In MLB, this would not officially count as a perfect game since all nine innings were not completed. But this wasn’t an MLB game, so to heck with those rules. For World Baseball Classic purposes, anyway, it was both perfect and historic. However imperfect by a strict definition of the term, it was the first perfect game in the Classic’s history.
World Baseball Classic: Four Puerto Rico pitchers make history
Twins hopeful Jose DeLeon enhanced his reputation greatly, starting and retiring all 17 batters he faced, 10 of them on strikes. Yacksel Rios, Edwin Diaz and Duane Underwood picked up where DeLeon left off.
Coming off a 9-6 Sunday defeat to Venezuela, Puerto Rico put this game away early. Javier Baez doubled two runners home in the bottom of the first, Eddie Rosario followed by doubling Baez in, and Puerto Rico led 3-0.
One inning later, Enrique Hernandez doubled two runs home, then walked home on Emmanuel Rivera’s triple to the right-center field gap. That made it 6-0.
Francisco Lindor singled, tripled and drove in three runs.
The victory moves Puerto Rico to 2-1 in Group D, a half-game behind Venezuela and a half-game ahead of the Dominican Republic. Israel is also 1-1, but must still play the Dominican Republic Tuesday and Venezuela Wednesday.
Assuming that Venezuela can handle either Nicaragua Tuesday or Israel Wednesday, then the battle for the second ticket out of this group would come down to the concluding game Wednesday between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Sounds like a perfect ending for the group.