Looks like Team Netherlands will be finishing 4th place again in the Final Round of the World Baseball Classic. Monday night the Dutch Team faced off against the undefeated Puerto Rico Team. Sadly for Team Netherlands it was to little to late in this game, falling to Puerto Rico in extras.
The game took place at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Both teams had previously made it the final round in the 2013 WBC. The Game was hard fought but ultimately Netherlands fell to Puerto Rico by a score of 4-3. The Kingdom of the Netherlands had some key missteps that determined the game as well as some strong areas that should be noted.
Key Low Points
For a Team that had consistently performed strong offensively throughout the tournament it was not on display Monday night. The team had 11 hits over the course of the game but that’s about it. They collected 3 runs while leaving 10 on base and were 3-6 with runners in scoring position. Netherlands couldn’t even score in the 11th when runners were put on 1st and second. The offensive power seemed to draw up in the face of Puerto Rico’s pitching.
Right out of the gate the Dutch team made some critical base running mistakes. With 1 out in the top of the 1st Jurickson Profar hit a single in to right. The hit advanced a runner to third with the ball being thrown to Yadier Molina cover home plate so the run didn’t score. With two runners on Profar began to celebrate with the Netherlands dugout. Molina seeing Profar unaware, he throws to 1st to get pick off Profar. With his celebration it cost them a base runner and an out in the inning. Wladmir Balentin was the next batter up and crushed a two run homer. With Profar still on it would’ve been 3-0 in the 1st. This costly mistake gave the Dutch one less run in a crucial 1 run game. Who knows how it would’ve ended if they knocked in 3 instead of 2. Profar sure wonders.
Key High Points
Balentin was the key player in this game for the Netherlands. Balentien acquired 16 hits in the WBC, the most of any player in the tournament. His average for the stat line for the whole WBC has been fantastic. .667 OBP, 1.115 slugging percentage, a .615 batting average and an OPS of 1.793. In the game against Puerto Rico, Balentin had 3 hits in four at bats with a double and 2 run home run and a walk. He knocked in two of the Netherlands 3 runs. Balentin was absolutely the teams difference maker. sadly no one else back up his offensive showcase.
The Dutch Bullpen
The Dutch bullpen pitched a majority of the game after Rick van den Hurk gave up 3 runs in 2 innings, both on home runs. The bullpen had to try and come in and take on a strong Puerto Rico offense. Team Netherlands pitching had been a big question mark throughout the tournament. many times it seemed inconsistent. Nights they’d shut down a team and others they let up a slew of runs. Monday nights game was the latter. Luckily the bullpen came in and pitch 7 innings of zero run ball into extra innings. With this rounds addition of big time closer Kanley Jansen, the bullpen pitching problem finally looked stable. Loek Van Mil gave up the winning run but it was hard not to when starting the 11th with runners already on 1st and 2nd base.
Yes the Kingdom of the Netherlands finished the WBC in fourth place again. However its not all doom and gloom for the team. Netherlands team has progressively been better and better every year since the tournaments inception. Its no surprise that they made it this deep with the team they put together.
For the next World Baseball Classic Team Netherlands will again be a strong contender to make it far. Under the strong selection of players coming out of the Netherlands, Curacao and Aruba. Manager Bam Bam Meulens has continued to prove that this little niche in the baseball world is a strong one and wont go quietly.
Look for Team Netherlands in the 2021 World Baseball Classic to finally be able to take home that crown of Champs of the the Baseball World.