Puerto Rico beats Venezuela in walk-off, mercy rule fashion.
If I were to tell you that Seth Lugo would be the most impressive Mets starter to pitch this week, you’d probably look at me like I’m crazy. After all, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom have both been on top of their games early on.
But it’s true, Seth Lugo was pretty amazing too. His start this week came in the World Baseball Classic so the stakes were a little higher. He pitched for Puerto Rico against one of the heavy hitters of Latin America, Venezuela, and had pretty success to show for it.
Lugo threw the allowed 65 pitches over 5 and 1/3 innings and allowed just one hit overall against a team that’s stacked with All-Stars like Miguel Cabrera, and Jose Altuve. He was commanding his pitches early on, and simply kept the Venezuelans completely off their game. It looks Venezuela could have used a little Asdrubal Cabrera in their lineup.
“Seth was the key, he was very efficient and he took us into the fifth inning and that gave us a chance to be more aggressive with the bullpen,” Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez said after the game.
Seth didn’t blow anyone away with his fastball like we’ve come to expect from some of our other starters, but he had great location and made his pitches count when he needed to, including that famous curveball that he’s becoming known for.
After the game, Lugo gave credit to his battery mate, Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals for keeping him in the game and helping execute a good plan throughout his outing.
“A couple of times, he worked on my mechanics and fixed up on that while I was out there, said we’ve got to slow down, not make it too nasty, just trust it and throw where my target is,” Lugo explained. “It just gives you a big boost of confidence.”
On the offensive side, Mets infielder T.J. Rivera got the start at first base, and hit 8th in a lineup that came ready to mash.
The Puerto Ricans needed just seven innings to put away Venezuela before the World Baseball Classic’s mercy rule kicked in (10 run advantage after 7 innings).
The “walk-off” hit that put the nail in the coffin came from the bat of T.J. Rivera though, who with a runner on base, tattooed a ball over the left field wall to put Puerto Rico up for good 11-0.
If there’s one thing you should never forget about Rivera is that the dude can hit. So far in Spring Training he’s showed last year wasn’t a fluke. Rivera has an OPS of .845 with the Mets early on, with a similar line as last season when he hit .333/.345/.476 while he was up with the big club.
With injuries to David Wright, and the uncertainty that an older infield can bring along, Rivera is looking to make himself as indispensable as possible for the roster this year.
Puerto Rico will be back in action on Saturday as they take on Mexico in the second game of their pool.