Right-hander Miguel Romero homered off left-hander Raul Valdes in a thrilling pitching duel between Cuba and Venezuela as the Dominican Republic beat the Dominican Republic 3-1 in the third game on the opening day of the Miami 2024 Caribbean Series.
Before 27,338 fans who almost completely packed Londepo Park, Venezuelan champion Tiburones de la Guerra ambushed Valdés in the third inning and with three hits he allowed by the veteran left-hander. The only run scored, in his ninth Caribbean series.
Overall, Valdes worked four and a third innings, allowing one earned, five hits and three strikeouts.
In the sixth, the Sharks added a walk to two Rockets against reliever Pedro Payano to make the score 2–0.
In the opposite trench, Romero held the Dominican Republic’s Monarchs Tigres del Lice at bay for five innings, whom he limited to just two hits, one of them on a bunt.
In the bottom of the sixth, with one out and a runner on first, manager Ozzie Guillén asked Cuban for the ball with only 60 pitches left, and it almost cost him.
Reliever Thiago Silva allowed two runs and with the bases loaded, Robinson Cano drove in one with a sacrifice fly, though then Venezuelan third pitcher Jorge Cavanero resolved the situation and threw out the third.
“The problem is (Romero) didn’t pitch for about a month because he hurt his arm. In fact, he was not going to start today, so it was a conscious decision, because I prefer to take care of the health of my players rather than winning trophies,” manager Ozzie Guillen said after the game.
In the beginning of the eighth, Cuba’s Yasiel Puig lofted the ball to Dominican reliever Jesse Mejía and sent the ball 416 feet into the left field stands to put the final number on the board.
For Puig, it was his first home run in a Major League stadium in 1,630 days since August 2019.
Puerto Rico achieves historic 200th win
In the opening match of the day, the Puerto Rican team defeated debutant Nicaragua 5-2.
The win was the 200th win for Puerto Rican teams in the Caribbean Series, the most for any nation.
Puerto Rico is one of the founding countries of the so-called Latin American World Series since its first edition 75 years ago in 1949 in Havana, Cuba.
Curacao did not come to visit Miami
Although as a guest, the Curaçao team had already shown that it came with the intention of winning the tournament and in its first appearance it won a close duel 6–5 against Mexico, one of the big favorites of the tournament.
The Curaçao team, with a lineup filled with former Major League players, hit three solo home runs against Aztec pitching, while former New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius hit a bases-loaded triple that gave his team the other three runs.
The Naranjeros de Hermosillo, the Mexican Pacific League monarchs, were on the verge of turning the game around in the final minutes when, with the game tied 6–3, Julian Ornelas homered with one out on the board in the bottom of the ninth, with the last out falling. First, his second home run of the game.