World Baseball Classic 2023

Israel handed second straight mercy-rule loss at World Baseball Classic

The Dominican Republic mashes and bashes its way to a 10-0 victory.

First baseman Matt Mervis of Team Israel bats against Nicaragua at the World Baseball Classic in Miami, March 12, 2023. Credit: Courtesy of Major League Baseball.
First baseman Matt Mervis of Team Israel bats against Nicaragua at the World Baseball Classic in Miami, March 12, 2023. Credit: Courtesy of Major League Baseball.

It’s a good thing Team Israel manager Ian Kinsler has a sense of humor. Even after a nearly identical loss to Puerto Rico on Monday, Kinsler could still manage a chuckle after being beaten by the Dominican Republic 10-0 in seven innings in Miami on Tuesday.

According to the World Baseball Classic’s “mercy rule,” which is in effect for pool play only, a game is called when a team has a 15-run lead after five innings or a 10-run lead after seven innings.

When asked by a reporter at the post-game press conference why he took starter Jake Steinmetz out of the game in the second inning despite his striking out three Major League Baseball All-Stars, Kinsler noted that Steinmetz had a high pitch count.

“He’s a young pitcher and the [Arizona] Diamondbacks just invested some money in him,” he said.

When asked by another reporter about the plan for Wednesday’s game against Venezuela, Kinsler replied, “We’re starting Robert Stock [from the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization]—that’s part of the plan. The other plan would be to get runners on base.

“The last two games we’ve struggled offensively and didn’t get anything going so that’s something we need to do if we are going to win tomorrow,” he said.

Kinsler sure knows his team.

They had only one hit in 15 innings over two games. On Tuesday, no runner advanced past second base. In fairness, Team Israel is composed of some major leaguers and many minor leaguers, while the Dominican team has many MLB All-Stars.

Kinsler acknowledged the quality of the Dominican team in the post-game press conference. When asked by a Dominican reporter what he thought of the Dominican players, he replied, “I played against some of those players in the past, and with some of them, and this tournament is special for the WBC when these guys get together. It seems like they go to another level. They played a great game tonight and they are a tough team to beat.”

The Dominican Republic got on the board early as outfielder Eloy Jimenez (Chicago White Sox) singled to score outfielder Juan Soto (San Diego Padres) in the first inning. Israel, three up, three down in the first two innings, held the opposition scoreless in the second. Left-hander Evan Kravetz (from the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts) replaced starting pitcher Steinmetz with two out in the second.

Dominican shortstop Manny Machado (San Diego Padres) hit a solo shot with one out in the third. Right-handed pitcher Andrew Gross came in for Kravetz with one out. The DR picked up an additional run in the third as second baseman Ketel Marte (Arizona Diamondbacks) batted in third baseman Rafael Devers (Boston Red Sox). Gross loaded the bases but managed to get out of the inning without giving up additional runs.

A long line of Team Israel pitchers

Left-handed pitcher Rob Kaminsky (free agent), the next in a long line of Team Israel pitchers, kicked off the fourth.  Kyle Molnar (free agent) replaced Kaminsky in the fifth. These two quiet innings were followed by a DR slugfest.

The DR blew the game out of reach with no outs in the sixth inning. Third baseman Jelmer Candelario (Washington Nationals)’s leadoff double was followed by catcher Gary Sanchez (free agent)’s walk. Soto reached on a fielder’s choice. A throwing error by Israel’s first baseman Matt Mervis (Triple-A) advanced Candelario to third and Sanchez to second. Outfielder Julio Rodriguez (Seattle Mariners) drove in two runs with a double to left, which was deflected by shortstop Ty Kelly (free agent). A sharp Machado line drive to right field off new right-handed pitcher Bubby Rossman (free agent) scored Soto and Rodriguez to bring the score to 7-0.

Rossman retired the next three batters in order.

Israel again went three up three down in the seventh. DR remained relentless in the bottom of the seventh as left-handed pitcher Alex Katz (free agent) replaced Rossman. A single by second baseman Robinson Cano (free agent) following shortstop Jeremy Peña (Houston Astros)’s double scored Peña to bring the score to 8-0. Beloved 42-year-old WBC team general manager and designated hitter Nelson Cruz (San Diego Padres), who earlier in the day shared the field in a local park with his friend Kinsler as part of a joint Dominican Republic/Israel friendship event, lined a single to left following Sanchez’s strikeout. Following a Rodriguez strikeout and a passed ball, shortstop and second baseman Jean Segura (Miami Marlins) hit a ground-rule double scoring Cano and Cruz, bringing the score to 10-0 and the game to an abrupt end.

The silver lining for Team Israel is that, regarding the outcome of their game tomorrow against Venezuela, they will enter the 2026 tournament automatically without having to qualify.

“We will be in the next tournament and that is big for the organization because the MLB doesn’t put you in nice hotels and get all the buses [during qualification games]. They cost the associations lots of money and to be able to skip that and qualify is big for us.”

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