MIAMI — Israel found itself on the wrong side of World Baseball Classic history Monday night as Puerto Rico pitched a combined perfect game, a first in the five editions of the international tournament.
The box score says it all. Israel: 0 runs, 0 hits, 2 errors. Puerto Rico: 10 runs, 11 hits. A perfect game.
For Puerto Rico, the hits came early and they came often. Led by New York Mets star Francisco Lindor, Puerto Rico ambushed Israel’s starting pitcher, Houston Astros prospect Colton Gordon, and knocked him out of the game before there were any outs in the second inning.
Puerto Rico scored three runs each in the first, second and fifth innings, and one final run in the bottom of the eighth that served as a “walk-off” of sorts. The 10-run lead triggered the WBC’s mercy rule, and the game ended.
And Israel? Crickets.
Puerto Rico’s starting pitcher, José De León, an experienced big leaguer now in the Minnesota Twins organization, was as sharp as could be — striking out 10 Israeli batters and exiting after five and two-thirds innings with a perfect game. The Puerto Rican bullpen kept Israel’s bats silent for the remainder of the contest.
Israel manager Ian Kinsler said he has a simple message for his team: move on, and fast.
“It’s got to go down the drain quickly,” Kinsler said after the game. “This tournament comes at you quick. We’ve got another game tomorrow that’s really important, so the faster we can forget about this one, the better.”
Despite a thrilling late-game comeback against Nicaragua on Sunday, Israel’s loss to Puerto Rico could be a harbinger of what’s to come over the next two days, with the vaunted Dominican Republic and Venezuelan teams up next. Orthodox prospect Jacob Steinmetz, the first Orthodox player drafted into the MLB, will start for Israel.