The Dutch have had a habit of coming out of the dugout to greet players who score runs during the World Baseball Classic.
With the way they were swinging their bats against Israel, it was hard for anyone to get too comfortable on the bench.
Didi Gregorius drove in five runs, three on a home run in the fourth inning, red-hot Wladimir Balentien finished with three RBIs, and the Dutch ran over Israel 12-2 on Monday night at Tokyo Dome to keep their hopes of a second-straight berth in the WBC semifinals alive.
“We got a great start from JJ (Jair Jurrjens) today, went six innings, 74 pitches,” Netherlands manager Hensley Meulens said. “That’s what kept us in the game.
“And the offense came alive. We put the ball in play, which we couldn’t do yesterday with guys on base.”
The Netherlands team was smiling and loose during batting practice on Monday afternoon. Infielder Jonathan Schoop said the team had already thrown away the memory of an 8-6 loss to Japan in an 11-inning thriller on Sunday.
“The guys refocused on another team, on another day, new challenge and it worked out for us today,” Meulens said.
The Dutch connected on 15 hits against Israel. Gregorius finished 2-for-3 with an RBI double in the third, his three-run home run in the fourth and a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
“It was a tough loss last night,” Balentien said. “We were still hurt, but we had to come tonight and focus. We started with JJ giving us six strong innings, and I have to give the whole team credit because those guys got on base and it gave me an opportunity to drive them in, and Didi too, so I think we did a great job.”
Balentien drove in two runs with a single in the third and another with a single in the fourth. He finished 3-for-4 and is now 10-for-18 with a home run and five RBIs in the Netherlands’ five games.
“I think the key for me is the guys hitting in front of me,” said Balentien, who will be entering his seventh season with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows this year. “We have a great lineup. Those guys get on base, those guys show you that they wanna play. They’re ready to hit. When I see those guys keeping it going, I don’t want to stay back, I want to join them.”
Yurendell de Caster finished with three hits and two RBIs, and Shawn Zarraga also drove a pair of runs. Zarraga’s run-scoring single in the eighth put the Netherlands ahead by 10 runs, and the game ended after Israel failed to score in the bottom half under the WBC’s early-termination rules.
Jurrjens pitched six innings of one-run ball. He allowed five hits and struck out five.
The two teams met in the first round in Seoul, with Israel winning 4-2. Both had already qualified for the second round, and Israel sent nine pitchers to the mound, a strategy that may have come back to bite it.
“They showed us most of their staff that night,” Meulens said. “That helped us out tonight. Because everybody that they brought in, except one or two guys, I think we saw in that game in Korea. Sometimes you get a report on a pitcher, but if you don’t see it, it’s not the same. They got to see the guys throwing against them. Now facing them the second time around, it was a little easier to have a plan.”
Israel’s surprising four-game winning streak to start its first WBC came to a grinding halt.
Starting pitcher Corey Baker allowed four runs on three hits in two-plus innings and was charged with the loss. Israel sent eight pitchers to the mound, with four giving up at least two runs.
“Behind in too many counts and too many non-competitive pitches with hitters ahead in the count,” said Israel manager Jerry Weinstein. “It wasn’t for lack of effort or anything. Just bad execution tonight and also they punished mistakes tonight, let’s give them some credit. They did an outstanding job with the bat.”
Nate Freiman got Israel on the board in the fourth, making the score 10-1 with a solo home run. Blake Gailen drove in another run with an RBI single in the seventh.
Both teams now have a loss in the second round. They each get Tuesday off and return to action Wednesday.
The Dutch will face Cuba, while Israel takes on Japan.
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