Dominicans still believe they're the best

Originally Published: March 18, 2006
By Enrique Rojas | ESPNdeportes.com

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Soon after being eliminated from the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic, Dominican ballplayers admitted that their mighty bats fell silent. However, in solace they were satisfied with the effort during the tournament.

"I'm sad, but not frustrated," said outfielder Moises Alou. "The effort was there, but not the desired result."

Cuba defeated the Dominican Republic 3-1 to advance to the final of the WBC.

"Obviously, we fell short. We wanted to make our country proud, but I feel that we have to be happy with the players in these last two weeks," said Dominican manager Manny Acta.

On Saturday, Dominican Republic's powerful lineup could do nothing against the pitching of Cuban right-handers Yadiel Martí and Pedro Lazo, managing just one run and seven hits in nine innings.

"We didn't bat, and they scored three runs. When you don't score, these things happen," said shortstop Miguel Tejada, who batted .292 with three RBI in the tournament.

The Dominicans averaged .262 in seven games, but couldn't muster any offense in the last two games, scoring three runs in 18 innings.

Normally potent sluggers struggled mightily. David Ortiz had only three hits in the tournament -- all home runs -- and finished with a .150 average and five RBI. Alfonso Soriano was even worse, going hitless (0-for-12) for the WBC.

"We knew things wouldn't come easy, but we never imagined that we would have this type of game with the roster we had," said third baseman Adrian Beltre, who batted .300 with four homers and nine RBI. "We always thought the games would be with a lot of runs."

While hitting was lacking, Dominican pitching shined with a 2.57 ERA and allowed opponents an anemic .239 average.

Bartolo Colon, Saturday's starting pitcher against Cuba, struck out seven batters and allowed only one run in three starts (14 innings) while Daniel Cabrera was 1-0 with an ERA of 1.23. Relievers Fernando Rodney and Duaner Sanchez didn't allow a run.

"A lot of people focused on our batting, and it was our pitching that dominated in this tournament," said pitcher Miguel Batista. "We couldn't get the runners on base home. We couldn't get the hit when we needed it most."

Albert Pujols, who batted .286 in the WBC, walked seven times, but left a number of runners stranded.

"There's nothing much to talk about. There are no excuses," said Pujols. "Cuba played better baseball and that's why we lost."

Despite the defeat, the Dominicans were keeping their heads up.

"This is the best team I've played with in my life," said Pujols.

Pitcher Odalis Perez agreed: "If we played this same game 10 times, we would have won nine times. Even though we lost, we're still the best baseball players in the world."

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.

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