Puerto Rico got help from an unexpected source on Sunday night, as Dodgers minor league pitcher Mario Santiago pitched scoreless ball into the fifth inning, helping Puerto Rico to a 3-1 upset win over Japan to advance to the final of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
The Dodgers signed the 28-year-old Santiago in January, after he spent seven years in the Royals system and one season in the Korean Baseball Organization, though he was on a different team than Hyun-jin Ryu.
Santiago was brilliant on the mound for Puerto Rico. He retired the first 10 batters of the game and only allowed two hits in his 4⅓ innings, with a walk and two strikeouts. But Santiago left in the fifth inning after just 61 pitches, with forearm tightness.
The big stage was better for Santiago Sunday night than it was for him in 2012, when he lost two games for SK Wyverns in the Korean Series. Santiago lost his only other WBC start, on Tuesday to Team USA, when he allowed three runs in 4⅓ innings in the second round.
Santiago suited up from the minor league side for the Dodgers once this spring, on Feb. 26, and he pitched a scoreless inning against the Giants at Camelback Ranch, with one walk and two strikeouts.
Hanley Ramirez, Angel Castro and the Dominican Republic battle Kenley Jansen, Dashenko Ricardo and The Netherlands on Monday night at 6 p.m. PT, for the right to face Puerto Rico on Tuesday night at 5 p.m. PT.