Monday, February 09, 2004

Soriano, Dominicans Win Caribbean Series 

Rafael Soriano survived a shaky start to get the win as the Dominican Republic defeated Puerto Rico 4-3 and took the crown of the 2004 Caribbean Series. Soriano got two starts in the series and in both gave up 2-3 runs by the 5th inning. In yesterday's start though, he stayed in after giving up three runs through four innings and shut down Puerto Rico through the fifth, sixth, and seventh.

That he did not dominate his starts gives fuel to the argument that Soriano should stay in the bullpen. But the fact that he became more dominant as the game progressed shows that fears about hitters catching up to him because he doesn't have a great third pitch may be unfounded. Obviously a small sample, but a high-pressure one, and a shutout might have gotten him into our rotation quicker. Like all M's fans, I want to see more of this kid!

The following text is taken from the MLB.com article on the game.

Knowing the game meant everything to the country, Acta started Seattle Mariners pitcher Rafael Soriano, who dominated the Dominican league this winter with an ERA of 0.21.

Soriano gave up three big hits through the first five innings, each of them accounting for Ponce's runs.

In the first inning, Carlos Baerga tripled to the wall in left center field, and when Abraham Nuñez's throw sailed wide of Dominican third baseman Rafael Furcal, Baerga jogged home with Puerto Rico's first run. Puerto Rico made it 2-0 in the top of the second on Luis Lopez's homer, but the Dominican Republic cut that lead in half in the bottom of that frame courtesy of a Mendy Lopez RBI single to center.

Soriano gave up his second homer of the night in the top of the fourth inning when right-handed hitter Val Pascucci went the opposite field with an impressive solo blast over the wall in right field, giving Ponce a 3-1 advantage.

"I knew I was throwing the ball well, so I just told myself that it wasn't a big deal," Soriano said. "I didn't want to give up."
The Dominicans probably would not have won it if Soriano hadn't calmed down after his rough beginning. The right-hander tossed scoreless ball in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings while keeping his pitch count to a minimum.

But Acta took him out before the eighth, trusting Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Guillermo Mota. The move paid off with another scoreless frame, Mota getting the crowd into a frenzy with two strikeouts to get Ponce down to its last three outs.

"Raffy could have stayed in for the whole game, but with our bullpen, we didn't want to take any chances," Acta said. "They've been lights-out and they were again tonight."

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