As it pretty much looked when the two teams met on Saturday, the 2006 Caribbean World Series will come down to Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, playing head-to-head, in Maracay, Venezuela.
The Venezuelan squad is unbeaten, courting defeat on Saturday against Licey and on Sunday, when they went to extra innings with winless defending champion Mexico. Monday's 5-1 victory over Puerto Rico was close through six innings, tied at one, until the host team broke through against the Boricua relievers. Earlier in the day, the Dominicans had won a pitching duel against Mexico, 3-1, to keep their dreams of a championship alive.
With one loss, the Dominicans have to beat Venezuela on the final day of the tournament in order to stay alive, and then win a playoff on Wednesday if they want to take the title. The Venezuelans, on the only hand, only need to win one of two games, with the home crowd firmly behind them.
I highly encourage you to tune in, on YES or by MLB.tv, to see how this turns out.
A detail from tonight's game, that I'm sure will get past all the fellas who are fainting at the prospect of major league pitchers throwing full-force in March. Danny Bautista, a 24 year-old starter with the Orioles, threw 86 pitches in five innings of work on Tuesday for Licey. In February.
I don't quite know what to make of this. Should O's fans be up in arms about this, declaring jihad upon Rafael Landestoy if Cabrera feels a twinge in his elbow or shoulder this summer? Or will they understand that for years, players have been giving it their all to represent their country in winter ball? Has anyone actually studied whether folks who pitch in winter ball do better or worse than their counterparts over the course of a season?