The World Baseball Classic continued Thursday night, and some big name Mets players were featured prominently in a couple of really great games.
The early evening contest between Canada and the Dominican Republic gave us a glimpse as to why the defending champions are a favorite to repeat in this year’s tournament.
Mets infielder Jose Reyes played shortstop and batted in the leadoff spot for the Dominican. Reyes is playing in his third World Baseball Classic, and it showed how comfortable he was representing his native land. At the dish, Reyes was hot. He went 3 for 4 with a double, two runs scored, and a steal.
The defensive side was another story for Reyes, who struggled playing short and made a throwing error in the game that led to Canada’s first run.
Hansel Robles would pitch in relief for the Dominican Republic and allowed two hits and a run. The double off Robles should have probably been caught in the outfield, but unfortunately that’s how baseball is sometimes. He did hit high 90s with his pitches, so overall it wasn’t a terrible outing.
Mets closer Jeurys Familia got his first action in the game as well. He came in to record the final out of the ballgame to seal the win for the defending champion Dominican Republic.
He lit up the radar gun hitting 99 and 100 mph with his fastball, so suffice to say he’s excited to not only play competitive baseball again, but to also to represent his country in the tournament.
The later game between Mexico and Italy featured three more Mets players but on opposing sides this time. It’s an understatement to say it would end in pretty great fashion.
For Italy, youngsters Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini started. Nimmo led off for the Italians and went 1 for 5 with a clutch RBI (More on that below). Cecchini struck the ball well too. He hit a bomb off Mets reliever Fernando Salas in the 5th that looked to be out of the ballpark to dead center but it somehow stayed in for a double.
Italy would complete what could only be described as an epic comeback. They trailed 9-5 in the 9th. Mexico would bring in former Met Oliver Perez to close the game, and Perez failed to get a single out as Italy would ultimately score five times in the final frame.
One of those clutch hits came from Nimmo. He hit a 1-2 pitch from the lefty into right field to keep the Italian rally going with an RBI single.
The next batter, John Andreoli, would win the game on a two RBI single that snuck through the Mexican second baseman.
All in all, it was a fantastic day for the World Baseball Classic, and for the most part for Mets players that were featured in the contests. While Cecchini suffered a minor injury in his game (twisted ankle), he’s not expected to miss any time as of now, so hopefully it stays that way for the rest of the tournament.
Friday night’s action will see the USA face off against Colombia starting at 6pm EST in Miami, Florida. Puerto Rico clashes with Venezuela later on in the evening in Jalisco, Mexico.