Puerto Rico’s De Leon, bullpen play perfect game in WBC mercy-rule win

MIAMI – Four pitchers for Team Puerto Rico combined on a perfect game against Israel in the pool-play round of the World Baseball Classic on Monday night, retiring all 24 hitters in a mercy-rule-shortened 10-0 victory.

After 5.2 scoreless innings by starting José de León, reliever Yaxel Rios recorded a strikeout and manager Yadier Molina homered to closer Edwin Diaz to close the top of the seventh inning with the score 9–0. When Puerto Rico did not score in the bottom of the seventh, Duane Underwood Jr. needed only 10 pitches to retire Israel in the top of the eight.

Puerto Rico then scored a run in the bottom of the eight with a walk, hit-by-pitch and Enrique Hernandez single in the strangest kind of walk-off win. WBC rules end the game when teams are down by 15 after five innings or down by 10 runs in the seventh inning or later.

Officially, the game was declared a no-hitter, as a complete game is defined as a game without a baserunner for the full nine innings. It was the WBC’s first hitless game since 18-year-old Sharon Martis threw seven no-hit innings for the Netherlands against Panama in 2006, the tournament’s first year.

The teams had diametrically opposite fortunes on the previous day. Israel, composed mostly of players in affiliated baseball of Jewish descent, had a dramatic come-from-behind win against Nicaragua that almost ensured it would not be eliminated from the next Classic. Puerto Rico, meanwhile, lost 9-6 to Venezuela, a defeat that won their game Wednesday against a powerful Dominican Republic team, winning to advance to the quarterfinals from the tournament’s death group, Pool D. It is necessary.

De León struck out 10 batters and was supported by Francisco Lindor (2 for 3, 3 RBI), Hernandez (2 for 4, 2 RBI) and Javier Báez (2 for 3, 2 RBI). Puerto Rico’s top five hitters were 9 for 17.

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