Puerto Rico shocked the world by advancing to the World Baseball Classic finals (set for Tuesday night at 8pm ET on MLB Network).
Then on Sunday night in San Francisco (after playing in Miami on Saturday), they upset two-time WBC champ Japan, 3-1.
Former KC Royals were a huge reason why.
Mario Santiago, who pitched in the Royals farm system until 2011, started and was brilliant until being taken out as a precaution with elbow soreness. He didn’t allow a hit until the fourth. He only allowed two hits over 4.1 scoreless innings.
Mike Aviles drove in the first run in the first inning on a single to centerfield. That scored current Royal minor leaguer Irving Falu, who walked. Falu has been playing GREAT defense at second base.
Aviles picked up another hit in the 7th inning and scored on Alex Rios’ two-run home run that put Puerto Rico up 3-0. Carlos Beltran walked in the first and singled in the sixth.
In the second WBC semifinal, it was current Royals who had big parts to the victory for the Dominican Republic.
Miguel Tejada singled and scored the Dominican Republic’s fourth run in the 5th inning.
In the sixth, Kelvin Herrera entered in relief of starter Edinson Volquez after the Dominican Republic had just taken a 4-1 lead. Herrera allowed a two out double, but struck out Andruw Jones to end the inning. In the seventh, he struck out the first batter he faced on three pitches. With two outs, Herrera walked a batter before striking out the next to end the inning (and end his chance of pitching in the finals).
The DR enacted revenge against the Netherlands in 2013, the team who beat them twice in 2009. Can the DR beat Puerto Rico for the third time? Or can Puerto Rico steal a victory and win the whole thing?
Whoever wins, at least one current Royal will take home the WBC trophy.