The final game of the second round was a thriller, with the United States beating the Dominican Republic, 6-3 on Saturday night at Petco Park in San Diego to advance to the semifinals of the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
The win gave the United States a 2-1 record in Pool F, earning them runner-up status in the four-team round robin, and ensuring a matchup against Pool E winner Japan on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
The Dominican Republic, the defending World Baseball Classic, was eliminated with the loss.
Down 2-0 after one inning, the United States stormed back to tie with two runs in the third inning, then took the lead with two more in the fourth, the latter coming on a rocket home run by Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton off of Dominican starter Ervin Santana.
After a pedestrian first four NFL seasons, Claiborne stepped up his game in year five; the young veteran tallied 24 tackles, five pass defenses and an interception in just seven games. He did so after making the position switch from the right side to the left side of the defense, where he lined up against opponents’ top wideouts on a more frequent basis. More importantly, the 27-year-old emerged as a capable starting cornerback, limiting opponents’ top receivers and oftentimes rendering them useless for long stretches of games.
Unfortunately, Claiborne suffered an injury and missed the final nine games of 2016. He’s yet to play a full 16-game season, which could present a major concern. Nonetheless, he is a good player when healthy and can immediately upgrade the Jets’ defensive backs corp.