Dominican Republic beats USA after Andrew Miller gives up homers

George Kottaras and Ryan Dempster

The same Ryan Dempster who last pitched in the major leagues in 2013 with the Boston Red Sox, is 39 years old and works as a studio analyst for the MLB Network and a special assistant to Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.

For all the complaints about Major League Baseball's All-Star Game, the arguments about whether or not it should matter, the inability to play it as a true game (and end up with ties because both teams ran out of players), the World Baseball Classic is the flawless alternative.

In other games, Puerto Rico advanced to the second round with a 9-3 victory over Italy in a Pool D game in Guadalajara, Mexico, while Mexico eliminated Venezuela with an 11-9 decision.

Colombia manager Luis Urueta, of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, sent Quintana out to pitch inning after inning, letting him stay in the game right up until Crawford's single on his 63rd pitch - two shy of the 65-pitch limit.

USA starter Danny Duffy finished his four scoreless innings of work with just two hits surrendered. Overall, they're now 3-8 in WBC play. Team USA found out the hard way with its bullpen collapse, and now it needs to quickly erase its memory to avoid going home early. United States of America starter Marcus Stroman kept the Dominicans in check for 4.2 innings before he was lifted as he neared the WBC's pitch count limit.

These homers came wrapped in the trappings of the World Baseball Classic, far from the Arizona desert where the Indians are now conducting spring training exercises.

"That was such an emotional game", Hosmer, the Kansas City Royals' first baseman, said of losing to the Dominicans.

The two images tell the story of a game, a game that means nothing, a game that means everything.

However, the Americans showed no hangover Sunday by jumping on Dempster, who retired only one of the six batters he faced before getting the hook. A loss to Canada would throw the tiebreaker scenarios into a frenzy between Canada, Colombia and the United States. "We got a two-run lead and had Andrew Miller coming in".

The Rawlings advisory staff will be led by 2016 All-Stars, Francisco Lindor (Puerto Rico), Manny Machado (Dominican Republic), Nolan Arenado (USA) and Xander Bogaerts (Kingdom of the Netherlands). It was the first homer for the Americans in the tournament. The United States added two more runs, including a Buster Posey solo homer in the seventh, but couldn't deliver a knockout blow.

Aside from all that, I'm just happy the game lived up to the hype. After only two innings of play, the U.S. already had seven runs.

The WBC remains plagued by a disconnect between the passion and drama produced on the field and the indifference that greets the tournament domestically, and Team USA is the biggest victim of that gap.

"'We know that the lineup the Dominican has is unbelievable, " Leyland says, "but hey, this is the big boys' game". While the top two teams in each pool advance and the third-place team earns an automatic qualification for the next WBC, the last place team in each pool is dismissed entirely, and has to earn their way into the next main tournament through a qualifying round played the year before.

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