Happy St. Patty's day to everyone! Now let's watch some baseball.
Top 1st: So begins our first entry in tonight's live blog from the World Baseball Classic elimination game between the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Starting the game for the US is Ted Lilly. Mike Aviles flies out to Shane Victorino.
Lilly walks Pudge Rodriguez. At least he didn't give up a hit. If I'm not mistaken, Jose Oquendo has shaken up his lineup, batting Pudge second. I guess you can only go so long batting .600 and staying in the seven hole.
Very late arriving crowd here at Dolphins Stadium. I would guess no more than 3,000 fans for this elimination game right now.
Lilly retires the side catching Aviles in a run-down between first and second. Nice pick-off move, but Aviles had an absurd lead.
Cultural differences are a funny thing. I covered the first round of these games in San Juan and now find myself in the Latin media pressbox above home plate at Dolphins Stadium. In the Latin press, it is not at all taboo to root for one's home country. Or if it is, these guys don't seem to mind. Takes some getting used to hearing cheering in a press box.
Bottom 1st: Our first look at Jonathan Sanchez and he induces an out by the fresh-and-hot Brian Roberts, just called up to the National team the other day to replace an injured Dustin Pedroia. As I type that Derek Jeter flies out. Two outs.
At bat is Sunday's star for the U.S., Jimmy Rollins. Sanchez walks him in five pitches.
As Sanchez plays catch with Carlos Delgado at first, its worth noting that this Puerto Rican team has yet to record an error or allow a passed ball in this tournament. As I say that Rollins stea;s second.
Kevin Youkilis strands Rollins and we head to the second inning of what I think will be a low-run producing affair. No mercy rules tonight. Remember I said that.
Top 2nd: Mark Derosa simply robs Carlos Delgado on a diving stab in shallow left. Pretty.
Se fue! Alex Rios takes Lilly out of the park to left center. PR leads 1-0, and I shift uncomfortably while standing by my earlier prediction.
Giovanny Soto, who is catching today for PR, flies out harmlessly.
Lilly seems to have his location, but a lot of these PR batters have seen a lot of him before, so he's no mystery.
Andy Gonzalez grounds out to short.
Bottom 2nd: Lineup resets, shoulda done this to start: for PR: Aviles ss, Pudge dh, Beltran cf, Delgado 1b, Rios rf, Soto c, Gonzalez 3b, Bocachica lf, Felipe Lopez 2b. Americans at bat with a chance to gain some ground. David "The Dutch-Hater" Wright singles up the middle. I hope that he hits a home run in this game if only so Carlos Delgado can get out of the dugout and scream at him to hurry up and round the bases.
Americans' lineup: Roberts 2b, Jeter (back at short, more on that later), Rollins dh, Youkilis 1b, Wright 3b, Adam "the human error" Dunn rf, Derosa lf, McCann c, Victorino cf.
Wright goes on Soto, gets to second on a late throw. Can't help but think if Pudge hadn't inked a deal with Houston yesterday he might be tonight's backstop and, probably, would have made that throw.
Runners on the corner as Derosa pulls one to right field. Meeting of the minds is in progress on the mound, Oquendo and Soto are trying to calm the young lefty.
American rally: Sanchez is melting down at the bottom of the US order. Brian McCann plates Wright, and Victorino brings McCann home on the next pitch. Roberts flies out to end the inning. Wright really laid out for his run, Carlos Beltran almost gunned him out at home (because that's just what Carlos Beltrans do).
My internet connection here at Dolphins Stadium is going the way of Jonathan Sanchez' pitching: Started out strong but starting to show signs of problems. Heading to the top of the third, US up 2-1.
Top 3rd: Hiram Bocachica is induced quickly by Lilly.
Lopez walks, but is caught stealing on strike three for Aviles, double-play, inning over. That was quick.
Oh yeah, we have cheerleaders with baseball here in Miami. I forgot about that.
Bottom 3rd: Sanchez is still in, he's at 40 pitches right now, as is Lilly, but they have divergent trends of success right now.
Reminder that the pitch-count limit tonight is 85-per pitcher.
Derek Jeter cares! He beats out an infield grounder to earn a single. Guess he wants to prove that he should always be in the lineup after getting pulled in favor of Rollins on Sunday. And guess who's at bat...
Rollins hits into a double play, bases empty, two outs for the Americans.
Kevin Youkilis breaks out of his WBC slump with a huge shot to left. If Jeter and Rollins had been on base that would have been a big hole for the Puerto Ricans to climb out of, as it is the score is 3-1.
Kevin Youkilis looks like a mini-Mark McGwire.
Wright and Dunn are on first and second. Sanchez gets the hook for RHP Nelson Figueroa.
Derosa comes thisclose to hitting a ground rule double and scoring two more runs, but comes up just foul.
Soto records the first passed ball of the WBC for Team PR, and Pudge and Yadier Molina collectively sigh in the dugout.
Figueroa escapes by striking out the suddenly dangerous Derosa, ending the inning.
Top 4th: Lilly stays in for the states.
Hey, I'm sitting next to Pedro Gomez! He always gets a workout whenever ESPN devotes a lot of coverage to events that require Spanish-speaking reporters, and I've been seeing his mug everywhere since the WBC kicked off. Go get 'em, Pedro...
Lilly walks Pudge and next up is Beltran, who is batting .800 (!!!) for this WBC. And as I type this he goes down looking.
Anybody out there? I prefer a little interaction with my live blogs. Don't be shy, go ahead and comment or email me at email@example.com.
Carlos Delgado just went all Roberto Clemente on Lilly, crushing one to dead center and scoring Pudge to tie the game, 3-3. (I've been waiting the whole tournament to drop that Clemente line, Delgado is the first Puerto Rican to rock the number 21 since Clemente).
Ted Lilly is headed to find Jonathan Sanchez and share a pint of green beer at John Martins. Joel Hanrahan, who apparently is on the U.S. roster, comes in in relief. He will face Soto, who has something to prove.
Soto walks and Hanrahan looks shaky.Hanrahan escapes without incurring any more damages, but Puerto Rico has tied the score 3-3 and Figueroa heads to the mound.
Bottom 4th: Figueroa is all over the place. McCann looks like he doesn't know what to expect. First one almost hit him, second one was too far out to even reach.
Carlos Beltran just flashed some nasty leather at the wall, robbing McCann of a sure home run.
Haha, on the WBC website's live boxscore they don't have a mugshot for Brian Roberts because he was just called up. Really? Three up and three down for the Americans, PR sends Hiram Bocachica to bat to start the fifth. Speaking of starting a fifth, when is this game over, anyway? It's St. Patty's day, what am I doing blogging?!
Top 5th: Leftie Matt Thornton sends Hanrahan to the showers. He starts the inning by mowing down Bocachica.
Lopez flies out to bring us back to the top of the order. He is 0-1 with a walk.
Aviles chops one back to Thornton, toss to first, three up, three down.
Bot 5th: Jeter is up, and he ain't happy! I'm just kidding, I'm sure he's happy. He's Derek Jeter. What else do you want? Goes down swinging on a full count fastball, Figueroa is dealing.
Rollins walks, brings up Youkilis, who does not have the distance and flies out to center.
When Nelson Figueroa strikes someone out they should play that derisive "HA ha" that Neslon from The Simpsons does. I wonder if they do that at Shea. Actually I don't care what they do at Shea.
Figueroa gets out of a mini-jam and induces a David Wright pop-up. Heading to the sixth, knotted at 3 apiece.
Top 6: Time to start thinking about what I'll do for the stretch. Regale my (mostly imaginary) readers with quips and anecdotes about the past week covering this tournament, or go buy some horrible overpriced food here at Dolphins Stadium? Maybe I should set up a poll, Greg Cote style? Yeah, but people read Cote's blog.
Pudge walks for the third time tonight. I really don't remember him swinging the bat. Back to the meat of the Order, Heath Bell will face Beltran, Delgado and Rios with Pudge representing the go-ahead run. Who is Heath Bell, and what does he do?
Beltran bunts over Pudge, one out, Pudge on second. Bell int. walks Carlos Delgado to get to Alex Rios.
Bad strategy, Rios brings home Pudge with a single. Soto comes up with runners on 1st and 2nd. PR leads 4-3, one out.
Soto goes down swinging like a man. An angry man with no discipline at the plate, but a man nonetheless.
We have a Bernie Williams sighting! Hide the Puerto Rican entertainment show hosts!
Bernie is 0 for nada for this WBC, and he is way past his prime, but for a skinny beanpole he still cuts an imposing figure at the plate. As I type this he grounds out to first. Inning over, PR 4-3.
Bottom 6: Javier Lopez (LHP) for Figueroa, who threw an economic 41 pitches for 25 strikes. He sits Dunn down.
Slow one-hopper fielded by Aviles sends Derosa back to the dugout. Can Brian McCann be a can-do man for the American plan?
No. He flies out.
Adam Dunn is gigantic. He just ran past Jeter and I thought he was going to eat him.
Top 7: Bocachica is having an awful night at the plate, going 0-3 with a strike out. Flies out on the first pitch here. Scot Shields is in for the US and retires Bocachica and Lopez on two pitches. Ouch. Not much bottom-of-the-order help for Puerto Rico today. Four pitches, three outs, and some kind of record for fastest half-inning.
Bottom 7: Victorino gets on base with a grounder, Roberts bunts him over, and Jeter is at the bat.
Pedro Feliciano is in for Puerto Rico. He's got a full count against Jeter.
Take your base Derek. Feliciano misses badly outside. Puerto Rico is being threatened. Chants of USA louder than any Marlins game you're likely to hear coming from the lower bowl.
Rollins flies out, but Rios' throw to second hits Victorino in the leg at second and allows him to advance to third. Or does it...
Umps rule Victorino safe at third. Saul Rivera replaces Feliciano.
Puerto Rico needs this out. I think the Netherlands left one player behind, because it feels like a Dutch boy is holding his finger in an about-to-explode dike. Runners at the corners for the U.S. Youkilis at bat.
Puerto Rico escapes with Youkilis grounding out to short. His struggles continue despite his monster dong earlier in the game.
Top 8: Pudge leads off and JJ Putz will face the heart of the PR order. Pudge grounds to second, almost beats the throw.
Beltran goes down a-swinging...
Carlos Delgado's bat looks reeeeeal slow. He strikes out and if Puerto Rico is going to get any insurance against Putz it won't be easy.
Bot 8: Six more outs for the U.S. to come back. Rivera is on the mound.
USA 6-24; PR 3-24.
David Wright reaches base again, singles past Aviles at short.
Adam Dunn cools off the whole lower level with a huge whiff. Mike Aviles forces Wright out at second but can't give Delgado a good throw at first, so Dunn is safe. Curtis Granderson comes in to pinch run for Dunn.
Is Mark De-friggin-Rosa the one to win this for Team USA?
Rivera gets cute with Granderson on first, two throws to Delgado and then brushes back DeRosa.
Rivera is getting downright petulant. Throws to first again and brushes back DeRosa again. DeRosa sacrifices Granderson over to second. A meeting on the mound ensues.
This is crunch time folks, you can tell because they are playing only the most annoying pop music. Buckle up.
(@Fin Heaven: I have no clue when Armando starts his blog. Can't you just pretend to be interested in this awesome baseball game?)
JC Romero comes in and just annihilates McCann to end the inning.
Top 9: Hey FinHeaven, here ya go...
Hope that helps. I think Mando does his QnA tomorrow at 1 p.m.
Back here at Dolphins Stadium, Alex Rios is trying to play the hero with a full count. He walks to lead off the ninth.
The US pulled Putz, they are pitching Broxton BTW.
Rios takes second on a bad throw-out by McCann. Insurance, anyone? Insurance?
Soto (0-3) grounds out to third, Rios (2-3, 2 RBI, 1 run) is on second with one out.
Replacement Ramon Vasquez gets his first at-bat. Falls behind 0-2 quick. Doesn't look good after him, Bocachica and Lopez are a combined 0-5.
Vasquez trickles in a single that scores Rios. PR 5, USA 3.
(@Finsheaven re: Delgado: I didn't notice but I bet he did for both cuz Miami is the wrong place to pull that stuff. Mess around and end up on the front page labeled a commie.)
Puerto Rico gets its first hit from the 8-9 spots with a single by Lopez, bringing up Mike Aviles.
Why does every batter in the WBC swing at every 3-1 pitch? They don't want to get on base?
Aviles sends a 3-2 pitch almost to the warning track, safely caught in right field and retired. Three outs for the US of A. Due up: Victorino, Roberts, Jeter.
Bottom 9: Romero stays in for Puerto Rico after putting out the eighth inning fire.
Victorino starts a rally, singling to to right.
Brian Roberts was a monster on Sunday night. Can he get back to that place and send Team USA to the semifinals in L.A.? He is the tying run.
NL East rivals Delgado and Victorino get tangled up at first on a check-throw, hilarity ensues.
Uh oh, Roberts singles and we have runners at first and third with no outs.
Jeter flies out to right but moves Victorino to third, runners on the corners with Jimmy Rollins coming up to bat.
Oooohh, the tension...
Roberts goes! He (just) makes it under the tag, Rollins is ahead in the count, runners in scoring position, one out.
Rollins stays alive in this seven-pitch at-bat.
Romero walks the bases loaded with Youkilis coming up to bat. Youk is 1-4 with a solo home run. The biggest at-bat in his career? Probably not. Important nonetheless? Sure.
Romero goes out for Fernando Cabrera, who throws Youk a ball.
Youk is ahead 3-1, looks like he may walk in a run, and he does. PR 5, USA 4. 1 out.
Cabrera is melting down. He can't find the plate. The he does, behind 2-1 to Wright.
WRIGHT WITH A BASE HIT TO RIGHT FIELD! The USA has come back to win this game and advance to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic! What a game! Against a team that mercy-ruled them 48 hours ago, the United States has stormed back in the ninth inning and punched their ticket to Dodger Stadium.
Well, that's all folks. Keep an eye on MiamiHerald.com for our full coverage of the game tonight. I'm heading down to the press conference to find out exactly how the heck this happened. See ya.