Jair Jurrjens hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since 2014, but the former Braves All-Star was on top of his game in the Netherlands' 12-2 win over Israel on Monday in his second start at the World Baseball Classic.
The 31-year-old right-hander kept an Israeli lineup full of MLB-affiliated players off-balance for six sharp innings in the second-round contest at the Tokyo Dome. Jurrjens held Israel to one run on five hits, striking out five without walking a batter.
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
"We got a great start from J.J. today," Netherlands manager Hensley Meulens said. "That's what kept us in the game [while] the offense came alive."
It was a marked improvement from Jurrjens' first outing at WBC '17, when he allowed two runs in three innings against Chinese Taipei in the first round, while issuing three walks.
"I'm happy that I was able to help my team out, and that's the only thing that's important right now," Jurrjens said.
Jurrjens exited the game with the Netherlands leading Israel, 10-1, a key effort with the Dutch needing a win after dropping their first game of the round to host Japan on Sunday. Monday's victory puts the Netherlands in a good position to advance to the championship round of the Classic if it can beat Cuba in its final second-round game on Tuesday at 11 p.m. ET (noon Wednesday local time).
The length Jurrjens provided was also important, because the Netherlands' game against Japan the day before went 11 innings.
"[I wanted to] just go out there and try to give my team as many innings as possible," Jurrjens said. "I know my team wanted me to go deep. The offense helped me out, made it easy on me."
Jurrjens was able to get through six innings on an efficient 74 pitches, 53 of which went for strikes. (The World Baseball Classic pitch limit for second-round games is 80.) His lone blemish on the day was a solo home run allowed to Nate Freiman.
"Jair did a good job, outstanding," Israel manager Jerry Weinstein said. "He pounded the strike zone and located the ball and pitched up, and obviously it was not a competitive night for us."
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 the Tokyo Dome, 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.