SEOUL, South Korea -- The Yankees are hoping Didi Gregorius saves some of his thunder for the upcoming season after he helped propel the Netherlands to the second round of the World Baseball Classic in Japan.After it seemed that a Netherlands rally would go by the wayside when Jonathan Schoop
SEOUL, South Korea -- The Yankees are hoping Didi Gregorius saves some of his thunder for the upcoming season after he helped propel the Netherlands to the second round of the World Baseball Classic in Japan.
After it seemed that a Netherlands rally would go by the wayside when Jonathan Schoop was called out at first base (though he looked safe on TV replays) on the back end of a double play in the eighth inning, Gregorius turned an upset Dutch bench into a jubilant bunch in their 6-5 win over Chinese Taipei at the Gocheok Sky Dome on Wednesday.
With the left-handed-hitting Gregorius coming up, Chinese Taipei manager Tai-Yuan Kuo called for southpaw Fu-Te Ni to replace righty Shao-Ching Chiang, an Indians farmhand who had been superb in relief of Chia-Hao Sung.
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
Looking for a fastball, Gregorius went to the opposite-field corner with his third double of the night to plate the game-tying run, scoring Xander Bogaerts from third. A half-inning later, the Netherlands walked off on Jurickson Profar's bases-loaded free pass.
"We managed to fight back, because we always want to battle, never give up," Gregorius said. "And we have a great team. Everyone's pushing each other, to help each other."
In a back-and-forth affair, Gregorius put the Dutch back on top in the fourth inning, slicing a two-run double to the left-center-field gap after Chinese Taipei had gone ahead in the third.
On his first double, Gregorius pulled a high-and-tight pitch in his first at-bat deep into the right-field corner, a hit that likely would have left the yard at Yankee Stadium. Gregorius came around to score the Netherlands' first run of the game on a Dashenko Ricardo single to center two batters later.
Manager Hensley Meulens considered starting Gregorius at short instead of Andrelton Simmons so that Gregorius could get some work in the field, but the Yankees' shortstop stayed mentally and physically ready to serve as the designated hitter while getting his cuts in the cage.
"It's a lot to be said about Didi," Meulens said. "He's a trouper. He's a pro. He's not playing defense. He didn't care. He's contributing at the DH slot."
And Gregorius is playing a big role on a Dutch team that will face Israel on Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET (noon local time on Thursday) to decide the seeding for Pool E in Tokyo, which begins Saturday at 10 p.m. ET (noon local time Sunday). You can watch all World Baseball Classic games on MLB Network and MLB.TV.
But on the way to Wednesday's Netherlands-Israel game, a crazy sequence of events transpired in the ninth, when the Dutch bench bolted out of the dugout a bit too early when it appeared Simmons' single up the middle would plate the game-winning run. Instead, it wound up loading the bases.
"I was thinking the game was over," Gregorius said. "We thought it was going to be the game-winning hit, but we got the bases loaded, and you don't want to make [an] out at home.
"We celebrated a little too early, but we waited … we got it when it matters."
Now, the unselfish Gregorius and his Dutch teammates will move on to Japan to further their Classic dreams.
"Every little thing in the game counts," Gregorius said. "It's not just about me. It's a team. Everybody did their best, so I think everyone will say the same thing -- that's what we did."
The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Chris Han is an editorial producer for MLB.com.