SAN FRANCISCO — As jubilant as the celebration was at AT&T Park, with Dominican players carrying flags large and small as they raced across the outfield grass, Giants reliever Santiago Casilla knew there was an even bigger party raging back home.
"I think right now it's crazy,'' Casilla said. "Everything in the Dominican is baseball, baseball, baseball."
The dominant Dominican Republic planted its flag firmly into this World Baseball Classic, beating Puerto Rico 3-0 in the championship game Tuesday night before a crowd of 35,703.
A light but persistent rain did little to dampen the mood for the players wearing Dominicana stitched across their chest. Thanks to one last sterling effort from their bullpen, which finished the tournament with 25 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, the Dominican Republic went 8-0 and became the first team to go undefeated over the course of a WBC.
"I'll tell you one thing: Tonight we're going to celebrate. Tomorrow we're going to celebrate,'' said Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, who hit .469 during the tournament to earn MVP honors. "And Thursday we will go back to spring training."
The three games at AT&T Park drew a total of 96,913 fans, extending the overall WBC attendance record to 885,212. Chilly supporters on Tuesday night waved flags, tooted horns, pounded drums and shook noisemakers throughout the low-scoring contest.
When it was over, Casilla stood under blasts of confetti and proudly showed off his new hardware. Nodding across the field toward his Giants teammate, Angel Pagan, who was being interviewed by the Puerto Rican press, Casilla held up his medal and said: "Pagan is a great guy, but when I see him I'm going to say: 'I'm sorry, but we got it.' "
Casilla walked Pagan leading off the eighth but promptly retired the next three batters, providing one of four more scoreless innings for the untouchable Dominican bullpen. Tampa Bay Rays closer Fernando Rodney finished up to earn his seventh save of this WBC.
"Wow. It has to be the best bullpen I've ever seen,'' said former Giants outfielder Moises Alou, the general manager for the Dominican Republic. "And we have the best closer in baseball."
Dominican starter Samuel Deduno (Minnesota Twins) delivered five scoreless innings. The right-hander could breathe a little easier after his team scored twice in the first off Puerto Rico starter Giancarlo Alvarado. Edwin Encarnacion delivered the big hit, a two-run double to center field for a 2-0 lead.
Encarnacion's teammate with the Toronto Blue Jays, shortstop Jose Reyes, ignited the rally by leading off with a double off the brick wall in right.
"The first thing to come through my mind when I hit that double was that I was going to pull not just my team but the whole Dominican Republic,'' said Reyes, one of six players on his roster to have made a Major League All-Star team. "That was huge."
Puerto Rico went 5-4 in the tournament. Pagan hit .364 (12 for 33) and set a record for most hits by a Puerto Rican player during the WBC.
But in this tournament, the baseball world belonged to the Dominican Republic.
"This moment, today, this is always going to be with us,'' Manager Tony Pena said.