PUERTO RICO ENDS ITALY CLASSIC
MIAMI-Anthony Rizzo took one Xavier Cedeno 88-mph fastball for a strike. He didn’t make the same mistake twice.Cedeno followed with the same pitch and Rizzo, a Fort Lauderdale native and Douglas High School star, laced it into right-center for a three-run, fifth-inning double.
That hit nearly was enough for Team Italy to stun Puerto Rico in Wednesday’s World Baseball Classic elimination game at Marlins Park. Instead, the Italian’s shoddy defense did them in. Two Team Italy shortstops combined for three errors, one of which came during a three-run Puerto Rico eighth that decided it.
The 4-3 win puts Puerto Rico in another elimination game Friday against the loser of Thursday’s Team USA-Dominican Republic matchup.
Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez summoned the left-handed Cedeno to face the left-handed hitting Rizzo, and for good reason. So far in his young major league career, Rizzo is a .200 hitter (26-for-140) with a .604 on-base plus slugging percentage off lefties.
Left-handers allowed just seven of Rizzo’s 30 extra-base hits in 87 games with the Cubs last season. Rizzo also walked as part of his 1-for-3 evening and is now 4-for-17 (.235) with six RBI in five WBC games.