Puerto Rico Throws Perfect Game, Makes WBC History
By: JAEQWON SUAREZ / STAFF REPORTER
On March 13th 2023, team Puerto Rico faced off against Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic (WBC). For the second time ever in the WBC, a no hitter was thrown by Puerto Rico, with the score being 10-0. However, this was especially historic as it was the first ever perfect game in WBC history, with no hitters reaching base for Team Israel.
It was all thanks to their pitchers, the first one being the starting pitcher, Jose De Leon, who struck out 10 of the 17 batters in only 64 pitches.
The other 3, Yacksel Rios, Edwin Diaz, Duane Underwood Jr., finished the rest of the game, retiring 7 batters all together.
A video can be seen of the team rushing out onto the field to celebrate and later on reporters asked the manager of the Puerto Rico team, Cardinal’s legend, Yadier Molina to give a few words of what he thought of that night game.
“We are very happy, I’m very happy with the guys.” he told reporters as quoted from the New York times article Puerto Rico Combines for First Perfect Game in W.B.C. History
What is interesting about the game was that it was not technically a perfect game. However, this is not the only time that the WBC has witnessed a no hitter before.
To go back briefly in the history of the WBC tournaments, the audience saw this happen back in 2006, with Netherlands going against Panama and winning with the mercy rule in just 7 innings.
The pitcher, Shairon Martis, who was at the time 18, threw up to his pitch limit in 7 innings and won the game 10-0.
However, in both the Netherlands versus Panama and Puerto Rico versus Israel games, neither have hit 9 innings, which is what counts as a perfect game in Major League Baseball (MLB). However, the tournament has many rules that differ from MLB
One that was roughly mentioned was the pitching limits, which are different for each round. For example, a pitcher can throw up to 65 pitches in a game during Pool Play, 80 pitches in the quarterfinals, and then it increases to 95 when teams enter the semifinals.
This was implemented to ensure that pitchers preserve their arms for the actual season when baseball starts.
Although the pitching limit is something that every team has to deal with, to strategically plan who will be their pitchers, the one rule that will be focused on specifically the Puerto Rico versus Israel game is the mercy rule.
The mercy rule states that any game with a team that is leading 15 runs after 5 innings or by 10 runs by 7 innings, will be declared over. This rule is only applied to the WBC to help keep games at a reasonable length if there is a huge run lead between the teams before the ninth inning. This, of course, is a huge deviation from the rulebook of the MLB, in which there is no mercy rule.
This has sparked a little debate, because the game between Puerto Rico and Israel was only eight innings, which was just 1 short of being considered to be a perfect game among the MLB rules.
Although it will not be officially recognized by MLB rules as an official game, it still made WBC history that night, and it was celebrated as such by Puerto Rico.
This has pushed the team ahead and one step closer to reaching the semi finals to the WBC’s trophy.