MIAMI -- Erick Aybar delivered for the Dominican Republic on Thursday, despite a two-strike count. And the second called strike was deemed questionable by Aybar and his team.
Aybar was clearly upset when home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez called a strike on a 1-1 pitch that appeared well outside. Aybar hopped out of box and jawed with the umpire as many fans in the crowd of 34,366 hooted and hollered in anger.
But Aybar quickly pulled himself together and lined a 97 mph Craig Kimbrel fastball to right field for the go-ahead single in a 3-1 victory over Team USA.
"As you can imagine, you have to have to focus on the pitch that comes after that one," Aybar said. "That first pitch, I had to forget about that. I just calmed myself down."
"The only thing he could do is concentrate and put the ball in play," Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena added. "He just forgot about that pitch and put the focus where it should be."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less