WBC: Netherlands 3, Dominican Republic 2

I’m not sure if I can believe what I just saw. The Netherlands beat the Dominican Republic 3-2. This is something for the ages – is it the biggest upset in the history of the World Baseball Classic? Of course it is. Is this as big as the Miracle on Ice?

Well, maybe not that big. But what we have seen tonight is huge, and speaks to the level of international talent that is playing baseball right now. In my last post, I said that missing Alex Rodriguez would hurt the DR – but I didn’t think it would mean that the DR would lose against the Dutch.

I have to give it to the Netherlands. Tonight they showed that solid pitching and fundamentals in the field will always trump flashiness and risk-taking. Kenley Jansen, the 21 year old catcher for the Netherlands, showed what ice water in the veins really means when he threw out a baserunner at second in the bottom of the ninth. Dennis Neuman, a 19 year old AA pitching prospect in the Red Sox organization, came in and made the DR hitters look like kids. Leon Boyd wrapped things up in the ninth by making the top of the Dominican order look like they had no idea what to swing at.

Let’s not kid ourselves. The Dutch had three hits in the game, and none of those hits left the infield – overall the Dutch hitting was anemic, and they scored two runs on a Hanley Ramriez error. Pedro Martinez threw three perfect innings against the men in orange, making his case that he still has what it takes to pitch in the bigs (I’d love to see Pedro pitch for the Red Sox, but hey, you can’t have everything).

No one is betting on the Netherlands to win the WBC, and they clearly don’t have the hitting to do so, but this is a team that has guts, solid management and knows the fundamentals. Things aren’t going to get much easier for the Dutch – they still have to play Panama and/or Puerto Rico, plus maybe the DR again. Still, this is a huge upset- I would say akin to beating the Soviets at ice hockey in 1982 or so.