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March 13, 2017

Hensley Meulens

Wladimir Balentien

Jair Jurrjens

Tokyo, Japan

NETHERLANDS 12, Israel 2

Q. You beat Team Israel by 12-2. How do you feel about it right now?
HENSLEY MEULENS: We feel great. After a tough loss last night, we went back to the hotel, got some rest. We met this afternoon and went over the game planning with the players for Israel because we lost to them in the first round.

So we wanted to make sure that there was no mistakes we make in the lineup in the game today with the offense, baserunning and defense. We got a great start from JJ today, went six innings, 75 pitches, and that's what kept us in the game and the offense came alive. We put the ball in play, which we couldn't do yesterday with guys on base, and that's why we scored big today.

Q. You mentioned yesterday, the game time was almost five hours, and the game time, end time, was almost midnight. Do you feel your players got a little bit tired?
HENSLEY MEULENS: Well, yes, you know, any time you stay on the field longer than you have to, you start thinking, you know, when is it going to be over and guys start getting tired. You have to remember, you're playing an Astroturf. It's hard on the body, and you know, it's still early in the season for a lot of guys. They haven't played nine innings or what-have-you.

But you know, but still, it's a game of concentration and focus, and we kept that for most of the game. But at the end, we still got beaten.

But today, the guys refocused, another team, another day, new challenges and it worked out for us today.

Q. When you played against Team Israel in the first round, your lineup had only like five base hits, but today you have 15 base hits and 12 runs. What's the difference between the first round and the second round?
HENSLEY MEULENS: It's a different game. No, I think we were so elated after winning that second game against Chinese Taipei in Seoul, and then we had a really short night. The game finished late. I think we got back to the hotel around 11:00 and our bus was at 9:00, which I pushed back from 8:20. And we didn't have batting practice, the guys were really tired that day because it was such a short night and we were still kind of emotional about advancing to the second round.

This time, we're going to do it a little different. I gave them all off tomorrow. We've been going at it for two weeks with no days off and then we'll play Wednesday again, the noon game, so we'll practice, which we didn't do last time, to see if I can wake them up. But that was the main difference for us, short night.

Q. This is a big win for second-round clinching. What's in your mind for day after tomorrow, the game?
HENSLEY MEULENS: Rest is as important as working hard. Sometimes you can overwork. And I know right now the guys need some rest after a long game yesterday, tough game today with no days off, and we have a day game on Wednesday. So it's called for. But we're not going to relax. We've got to come out and play hard against the Cubans. They are always tough. They play, you know, all kinds of different games with you. So we've got to be at our A Game on Wednesday so we can beat them and advance to the finals.

Q. That was a tough loss against Team Japan. How big is today's game for you and for Team Netherlands?
WLADIMIR BALENTIEN: Yeah, it was a tough loss last night. It still hurt but we had to come tonight and focus and started in the first inning, we started with JJ giving us six strong innings.

And I have to give the whole team credit, because those guys got on base and gave us an opportunity to drive it in and Didi, too. So I think we did a great job.

Q. Today, your lineup got 15 base hits, and you are such a great clean-up hitter. Do you have any specific comment for your players before the game starts to pump them up?
WLADIMIR BALENTIEN: No, I mean, we had a meeting early, like Bam-Bam say, we was focused. This was a really needed game. So everybody came in focused in the first inning, and we are a great-hitting team. We believe in ourselves, and what's that you guys saw tonight: 15 hits.

Q. In the stands, some of the fans are cheering for you. Can you hear it in your at-bat?
WLADIMIR BALENTIEN: Yes, I can hear. (Laughter) of course. Of course I hear them and that gave me more confidence. I feel like I'm playing at home even though I'm not playing with my Japanese team. I still feel like I'm playing at home and that gave me for confidence to go up there and give the fans what they want to see.

Q. You have a day off, and on Wednesday, you have an important game against Team Cuba. What is on your mind, playing against Cuba?
WLADIMIR BALENTIEN: Well, we're going to relax tomorrow and we're going to come in the day after tomorrow watt same game plan like we did tonight. It's an important game, so we're going to come concentrated in the first inning and we'll try to get it done early so we take a little pressure off our pitcher. I think that's what we've got to do, come in and be ready the first pitch of the game.

Q. This was a do-or-die situation game. What was in your mind what you go to the mound tonight?
JAIR JURRJENS: Just go out there, try to give my team as more inning as possible, especially playing extra innings yesterday. I know my team wanted me to go deep.

Just the offense helped me out, made it easy on me. They put five early and made it easy for our pitching to go in and just throw strikes and make the defense work.

Q. How do you feel about Team Israel's lineup? What's the most important thing you were trying to mention when you pitch?
JAIR JURRJENS: Just get ahead. Just get ahead. Try to get speed off the base. Make the top of the guys (order) swing early. I don't want them to be up front, like three or four of the big guys in the lineup, and just pitch for contact. I wasn't trying to do too much. Just throw strikes and let my defense work.

Q. How do you evaluate yourself? What's the most good thing for your pitching tonight?
JAIR JURRJENS: We don't like to do that. It's about team. Just I'm happy that I was able to help my team out and that's the only thing that's important right now.

Q. You had a really good series and a really good games in Korea and you've come here and still swinging the bat well. I think you have ten hits in five games. What's been the key for you in the way that you've been swinging the bat lately?
WLADIMIR BALENTIEN: Well, I think the key for me is the guys hitting in front of me. I mean, we have a great lineup. Those guys get on base. Those guys show you that they want to play and they are ready to hit. When I see those guys can get going, I don't want to stay back. I just want to join them.

So I think that I have to thank those guys. They've been hitting -- like you've seen, they get on base every time. And so I want to be that time that want to help the team, too, so I have to thank them.

Q. With all the shortstops, you had to tell Didi that he was going to be DH for most of the games. He's not only taken to that, but he's hit the ball real well for you. What can you say about what that means that he's accepted that and succeeded in that, even though he's never done it in the major leagues?
HENSLEY MEULENS: Well, you know, been talking to the guys -- (laughter) I've been talking to the guys since August of last year about, first, participating, because we had to come out with a provisional roster. And then I started talking to them, where they wanted to play, and Didi was the one that he didn't care where he had to play. Because he knew, if you guys didn't know, growing up, he played with Simmons on the same team. They are the same age, and he never played shortstop, he had to play second base because Simmons was the shortstop. Simmons has only played shortstop and pitched a little bit, and that's why that that call was made by them.

And Xander called me and said, hey, I know I'm one of the better shortstops in the American League but when it comes to playing for the Dutch, I'm your third baseman, and that made it easier with Profar also playing in the outfield a lot for Texas this spring and probably during the season. That made our call easier for me.

So Didi said, I'll move around, I'll DH, and I have no problem with it. You know, he looked like he's been doing it for ten years. He's essentially like pinch-hitting four or five times a game, but he stays ready. He keeps stretching and he keeps his legs loose. He's so athletic, he's such a great hitter, and he's proven it the last couple years playing for the Yankees. He's in the heart of the lineup now protecting Coco and getting some huge hits. I don't know, he's got ten RBIs already or something. He's done really well these five games, and that's being very, very unselfish.

Q. Today's lineup, you switched the second and third hitters from yesterday and then you got some players into the lineup. What was the reason why, if you can mention.
HENSLEY MEULENS: Well, first of all, I took X out of the 3-hole just to give him a breather and to relax. I was thinking about making him swing the bat so I could hit around him in the second hole instead of having him be the producer in the third hole. So I took some pressure off him just by moving him up and put Profar at third, who has been one of the hottest hitters for us with Coco and Didi. So I put them all together today, three, four, five, to see if we can score runs that way, and it worked out that way.

With the catcher, the catcher had a very long game last night. His legs were heavy today. He was sore. And we have a great backup in Zarraga, and he's proven it. He got a couple of hits, big hits. He's a switch-hitter. I also wanted to have another left-handed bat in there. So I made that decision there. That was an easy one to make for me, because Dashenko probably needed a day and I gave it to him.

First base, you know, Curt has been putting a lot of pressure on himself. He's a much better hitter than he's proven so far. You can check his records; this guy always hits in international games for us. He's been pressing this series and this round. And we have a very capable backup in DeCaster, and he's proven it today with three hits and a couple of big RBIs that started the scoring.

Sometimes you have do-or-die games, and you have to use your gut and sometimes make some switches to ease some guys in the lineup and also get some other guys going. It worked out for us today.

Q. You faced Israel once already, and there's a chance depending how things play out that you could face them again. How much do you take from that first game, even on short rest, that helped you here, and is there such a thing as being too familiar with an opponent?
WLADIMIR BALENTIEN: Well, we lost that game in Korea against them, and the thing why we lost that game was because they was bringing one pitcher every single inning, and it was tough for us as a hitter to get something going when they get different pitchers going and different balls, different pitches.

Tonight, they just keep the pitchers longer in there and our guys, you know, we know that was an important game today. So those guys just go up there, like I said before, play like it was a Game 7 of the World Series; we have to win it. Like I say, those guys, they did a great job.

HENSLEY MEULENS: You know, for me, we lost that game but we learned something from it. They got three quick runs in the first innings. We were kind of flat and then we got back into the game. Actually we pitched pretty good that game. They only scored one more run the rest of the game and we had chances to get back in it but we didn't get a big hit that game, either.

What he said, that they showed us most of their staff that night, and that helped us out tonight because everybody they brought in except one or two guys, I think we seen in that game in Korea. Sometimes you get a report from a pitcher, but until you see it, it's not the same. So they got to see the guys throwing against them. Now facing them a second time around was a little easier to have a plan and know how the ball moves, is always different from the report to life.

So for me, that was very valuable that they did that against us, even though they beat us, for us to have a better game plan and it worked out in our favor today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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