Kalian Sams’ ninth-inning sacrifice fly scored Andruw Jones with the winning run, capping a comeback from a two-run, eighth-inning deficit and lifting the Netherlands past Cuba 7-6 Monday in Tokyo, and into the World Baseball Classic semifinals.
The Netherlands, the first European team to reach the final four, advanced along with two-time defending champion Japan.
“This game will go down as the biggest game in Dutch history,” Netherlands manager Hensley Muelens said. “To come back like that after being down in the eighth is amazing.”
The Dutch had beaten Cuba 6-2 in the opening game of the second round.
Cuba went ahead 6-4 in the eighth when Shairon Martis walked Frederich Cepeda, Yasmany Tomas had a one-out RBI single off Leon Boyd and Eriel Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly.
Sams walked on four pitches from Norberto Gonzalez leading off the bottom half of the inning and, after a pair of strikeouts, Andrelton Simmons homered to left on a 2-1 pitch.
“I felt like I had to step up,” Simmons said. “He gave me a pitch to hit, and I was really happy I could tie the game for us.”
Jones reached on a fielding error by third baseman Yulieski Gourriel with one out in the ninth, Curt Smith singled him to second and Raciel Iglesias relieved loser Yander Guevara.
Xander Bogaerts’ single loaded the bases, Diosdany Castillo came in to pitch, and Sams flied to deep center as Jones came home.
Loek Van Mil, the fourth Dutch pitcher, got the win with a two-hit ninth.
Jones’ bases-loaded sacrifice fly and Smith’s RBI single put the Dutch ahead in the third, but Jose Fernandez’s RBI single and Jose Abreu’s homer off Netherlands starter Orlando Yntema tied the score in the fourth.
The Dutch took a 4-2 lead in the bottom half when Simmons hit a sacrifice fly, and Randolph Oduber stole third and scored on catcher Frank Morejon’s throwing error.
Gourriel retied it with a two-run double in the fifth.
Greinke has inflamed elbow, gets injection
Zack Greinke was scratched from his spring training start for the Dodgers, went to Los Angeles and was diagnosed with inflammation in the back of his right elbow.
The Dodgers said the 2009 A.L. Cy Young Award winner was examined by Dr. Neal ElAttrache and that an MRI exam in Arizona last week “showed there was no structural damage to the ligaments or tendons of the elbow.”
Greinke received an injection of platelet-rich plasma and anti-inflammatory medication, according to the team. The Dodgers said the right-hander will rest for 2-to-3 days and then go on a progressive throwing program.
Cardinals manager has back surgery
St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has had surgery to repair a ruptured disk in his lower back.
Matheny had the procedure on Monday in St. Louis. Before leaving the team on Sunday, Matheny said he expected to be back at spring training Thursday.
Normally division championships are celebrated with champagne showers in the locker room. The Spokane Indians settled for cheering and high fives on a crowded bus.
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