Archive for the 'World Baseball Classic' Category

Mexico Tie Breaker Error Explained

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

The WBC made a calculation error prior to Mexico playing Venezuela saying that Mexico needed to only win by two to be one of the two teams playing for the second spot to advance to the second round playoff spot. They beat Venezuela by two and were quite upset when they were informed they did not advance. The tie breaker rule is defensive runs per inning and it appeared a miscalculation was made when they first put the numbers together.

The pitching staff for Mexico was supposed to be their strong suit. It failed them in the WBC, especially the bullpen in the game against Italy. When the initial calculations were made for that game Mexico got credit for that ninth inning when Italy scored five runs and the Mexican bullpen failed to get an out. Since an out was not recorded in that ninth inning Mexico could only get credit for eight innings, not the nine innings they were given credit for before the game was played. Mexico lost the tie breaker to Venezuela 1.12 to 1.11.

Adrian Gonzalez was not happy. He says he will not play in another WBC game. That may be a moot point since he will be 38 years old when the next WBC tournament is scheduled. The bottom line is that if the pitching staff for Mexico, especially the vaunted bullpen, had done their job they would have advanced to the second round. Losing a four run lead in the bottom of the ninth without retiring a hitter eliminated them from the WBC. Those facts can not be changed. Giving them an inning when they did not get an out to deserve that inning can be changed. It is just too bad the error had to occur.

Japan/Netherlands Advance to Final Four; Puerto Rico Upsets Dominican

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

The Netherlands left no doubt who had the superior team in their game against Cuba. They were up 12-0 after four and only needed seven innings to embarrass a once proud Cuban team 14-1 to advance to the final four. Twenty years ago those were scores the Cubans were putting up on the Netherlands in their games.

Wladimir Balentien hit two homeruns early, a three run shot in the first and a solo shot in the third to put a hurting on the Cuban pitchers. Yurendell DeCaster also homered in the third, a two run shot and contributed four RBIs in the game. He also lined a two run single in the five run fifth to put a dagger in the Cuban spirits to compete in this game. Kalian Sams finished off the scoring with a solo shot in the seventh and final inning.

The Cuban bats could not mount much of an offense against Diegomar Markwell, scoring just once against him in his six innings of work. That one score occurred after they were down 13-0. It didn’t matter who the Cubans trotted out to the mound. The Netherlands treated them all as if they were batting practice pitchers. Lazaro Blanco got the start and did not last two innings, giving up four runs. Vladimir Garcia could not last two inning before giving up five runs. Leandro Martinez, a 38 year old who would not have made a Cuban national team in the past, threw the best with three innings of mopup, allowing just two runs.

The crowd was listed at 40,680.

Japan 8 Israel 3

Japan ended a nice run by Israel with their 8-3 win, eliminating them from the final four. It was a pitcher’s duel for the first five innings with closer Josh Zeid getting the start and shutting out the Japanese bats for four innings. Israel just does not have enough depth in its pitching staff to keep the Samurai bats down for a full game. In the sixth Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh woke the bats up by leading off the inning with a homerun. Before the inning was complete four more runs had scored.

Dylan Axelrod replaced Josh Zeid and retired the side in order in the fifth. In the sixth he was not so fortunate, giving up two hits and a walk for three runs. His replacements were also ineffective and when the sixth inning was done you could put a fork in the game. Japan had a 5-0 lead.

The Israeli bats had trouble hitting Kodai Senga, producing a leadoff single from Sam Fuld in the first. After the leadoff single the Israelis could muster no more hits when Senga finished his outing after the fifth inning.

Japan put the game away in the eighth with three runs, Seiichi Uchikawa roping a two run double and Nobuhiro Matsuda tacking on one more run with a single.

Israel finally strung an offense together in the ninth with a walk and two singles off Kazuhisa Makita to score their first run, an Ike Davis single driving in the run. Ryan Lavarnway hit a two run double to pull Israel to 8-3, but that was as far as they were going to get. The good news for Israel is they get an automatic bid to play in the next WBC, not having to qualify as they did this year.

There were 43,179 who attended this game, much of the crowd already purchasing tickets for the Netherlands/Cuba game which counted against this attendance.

Puerto Rico 3 Dominican Republic 1

The Puerto Ricans proved the Dominicans could be beaten. Now the Dominicans have to sweep the United States and Venezuela to get to the final four. The bullpen of Hector Santiago, Joe Jimenez, Joseph Colon and Edwin Diaz quieted the Dominican bats to three hits in the last 6.2 innings. The momentum shifter may have been when right fielder Eddie Rosario threw out Jean Segura at home in the first to end a potential Dominican rally with zero runs. In the bottom of the first Puerto Rico used a couple walks and a Yadier Molina single to give them a 1-0 lead.

The Dominicans did not have the same fans in San Diego that they had in Miami. It was less of a home game for them. Nelson Cruz hit a leadoff homer in the second, but the crowd roar for the homer was not as loud as it was for his three run shot against the United States. The Dominicans play on emotion and the emotion was absent.

In the fourth Puerto Rico took the lead taking advantage of a throwing error by Adrian Beltre to allow Javier Baez to reach second. Eddie Rosario bounced a ball over the right field fence to give Puerto Rico a 2-1 lead.

The Dominicans never really threatened after the solo homer from Cruz in the second. They got runners to second but that was the extent of their threats. Yadier Molina led off the sixth with a solo shot to give Puerto Rico a little cushion that they did a much better job of protecting that the United States bullpen.

Of course the crowd was much quieter than in Miami. Tony Pena tried to motivate his team by getting tossed in the eighth. Nelson Cruz walked and with Adrian Beltre at the plate Cruz broke for second against Yadier Molina. He was thrown out to end the inning. Edwin Diaz mowed through the Dominican lineup in the ninth to pick up the save.

Only 16,637 attended the game at Petco Park in San Diego, a far cry from the 30,000 plus who showed up in Miami to support the Dominicans there.

Venezuela Rally Advances them to Second Round; Japan Downs Cuba

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

In the seventh inning John Andreoli hit his third homerun of the WBC to give Italy a 2-1 lead over Venezuela. Italy turned to Mike Demark in the ninth to pick up the save. The first batter he had to face was Miguel Cabrera. Miguel took his second pitch deep for his first homerun of the WBC to tie the game 2-2.

Venezuela would rally for two more runs in the ninth. Victor Martinez followed the Miggy homerun with a walk. Yangervis Solarte pinch ran for Victor. Rougned Odor hit a ball to deep center that Venezuela claimed was a homerun. The umpires looked at the replay and confirmed the original call that the ball did not travel over the fence. Solarte scored the go ahead run but Odor stopped at first.

Italy went with Frailyn Floran after DeMark failed to retire a batter. Carlos Gonzalez ripped a single to left to advance Odor to third. Gonzalez was thrown out at second trying to stretch the hit into a double. Alcides Escobar laid down a squeeze bunt to score Odor to up the score to 4-2.

Francisco Rodriguez came on to pitch for Venezuela. He gave up a leadoff homerun to Alex Liddi to pull Italy to within one. Rodriguez was able to retire the last three batters to secure the victory.

Anthony Morris had a stellar start for Italy, no hitting the powerful Venezuelan bats in his five innings of work. He walked one and struck out five. There were only 1,783 at a game that was not part of the original schedule, with Mexico not part of the game.

A controversy erupted when Mexico was informed they would advance to a playoff round if they beat Venezuela by two. That notice was quickly removed. Mexico was upset when they won by two and were informed they were eliminated and Venezuela would play Italy in the play in game.

Japan 8 Cuba 5

Tetsuto Yamada crushed two homeruns from the leadoff spot, driving in three and scoring four to lead Japan to an 8-5 win over Cuba. For Cuba it is their second loss in the second round. To stand a chance at advancing they must beat Netherlands and hope Japan beats Israel to put second place in a three way tie.

Yamada led off the game for Japan with a homerun. Cuba bounced back in the second by scoring two on a Yurisbel Gracial homerun. Yosvani Alarcon would double and advance to third in the inning but Victor Mesa struck out.

Yamada got the third inning started with a double. He scored on a clutch two out single from another young Japanese superstar Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh, who finished the game 3 for 3 with two RBIs.

In the fourth Alfredo Despaigne got the inning started with a single. William Saavedra and Alarcon hit one out back to back singles to load the bases. After Jefferson Delgado struck out Victor Mesa came through with a clutch two out single to score two runs. Alarcon was thrown out at third trying to advance after the throw home.

In the fifth Japan ties the game. Seiji Kobayashi started the inning with a single followed by a walk to Yamada. Cuba replaced Bladimir Banos with Yoennis Yera. A bunt moved the runners over and a ground out by Norichika Aoki pulled Japan to within one. With a runner on third and two outs Tsutsugoh got another clutch hit, a ground ball single into centerfield to tie the game.

In the sixth Cuba recaptured the lead. Yurisbel Gracial doubled, advanced to third on a fly ball and scored when Yosvani Alarcon singled. Japan again tied it in the bottom frame. Nobuhiro Matsuda appeared to strike out for the second out of the inning but the ball skipped past the catcher. Another wild pitch by Yera advanced Matsuda to second. Shogo Akiyama walked bringing on Cuba’s closer Miguel Lahera early in the game. A single by Seiji Kobayashi tied the game. Yamada struck out and Akiyama was thrown out trying to steal third to end the inning.

Japan took control of the game in the eighth after William Saavedra dropped a throw from shortstop Alexander Ayala to get the inning started. A Shogo Akiyama single advanced Matsuda to third. He scored when pinch hitter Seiichi Uchikawa hit a ball deep enough to right field to score Matsuda. Yamada put the icing on the cake with a line drive homerun into centerfield to give Japan an 8-5 lead.

Kazuhisa Makita retired the Cubans in order in the ninth. If Cuba hopes to advance past the second round they need to beat a tough Netherlands team. Japan has already clinched a fourth date for the final four with a game against Israel pending. They are the only country to play in all four final fours. If Israel can win and Cuba beats the Netherlands, Israel can advance to the final four. That could happen with Japan having nothing to play for but the seeding. It appears that even a Japan loss and a Netherlands win would have Israel and Netherlands play a play off game to determine who advances to the final four.

There were 32,717 in attendance to see the second match between Japan and Cuba. That was less than the 44,308 who showed up for the first round match between these two teams.

WBC Drawing Big Crowds

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

It appears the WBC is more popular if you judge it by the fan attendance. Major League baseball announced attendance through the first round was up 34 percent. There were 621,851 fans who attended 2017 first round games while in 2013 attendance sat at 463,017. The Tokyo Dome has averaged 44,123 but one ticket gets you into both games. The actual attendance for the non-Japanese games is pretty sparse. The first round games in Miami are more accurate with 163,878 showing up to watch the games. That is the highest first round total for a pool played in the United States and unlike Japan you had to buy a ticket for each game.

Netherlands Pounds Israel in WBC; Venezuela and Italy to Meet in Playoffs

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Israel can’t pitch Jason Marquis every night. Yesterday they went with Corey Baker and he failed to get an out in the third, giving up four runs on three hits and two walks in his outing. Netherlands went with Jair Jurrgens. A Nate Freiman homerun in the fourth was the only run he gave up in his six innings of work. For Freiman it was his second homerun of the WBC. The Netherlands scored the first 10 runs in four innings and went on to win 12-2 in a game shortened to eight innings by the ten run rule.

Didi Gregorius blasted a three run homerun in the fourth inning off Danny Burawa. He finished the game with five RBIs and three runs scored. Andrelton Simmons, Wladimir Balentien and Yurendell DeCaster each lashed out three hits. Balentein scored three times to tie with Didi for the most runs scored in the game. Nate Freiman leads all players in runs scored with 7 while Didi and Wladimir are tied for second with many other players at 5.

The Netherlands needs to beat Cuba to advance to the final four. Israel must still face Japan needing a win to have any hopes of advancing to the final four.

Mexico 11 Venezuela 9

Mexico won the ball game but it did not help them advance to the tie breaker, giving up too many runs in the later innings. The tiebreaker to advance to the second round will be a game between Venezuela and Italy. Mexico jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, Esteban Quiroz slugging a three run homer to end the scoring. Brandon Laird also hit a three run homer in the fifth inning to up the Mexican lead to 8-1. If the Mexicans would have held the Venezuelans scoreless they would have advanced to the tie breaker. They did not.

Venezuela battled back for eight runs in three innings to pull to within two. A walk to Ender Inciarte in the ninth put the tying run on first for Venezuela and led to the ejection of Mexican manager Edgar Gonzalez. Robinson Chirinos struck out and Jose Altuve flied out but Venezuela got the playoff date based on a better runs allowed per defensive inning. If Mexico had held Venezuela to a couple less runs they may have advanced to the playoff game.

The last time Italy and Venezuela met Venezuela won in 10 11-10.

Extra Innings Galore in WBC; United States Advances

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Japan and the Netherlands were the first team to play past the tenth inning to initiate the extra inning rule. Japan pulled off a successful bunt followed by a two run single from Sho Nakata to give Japan an 8-6 lead. The Netherlands chose to have Jurickson Profar swing away and he popped to first. With no runners in scoring position Xander Boegerts grounded out and Kalian Sams popped out to end the game.

The two battled it out like punch drunk boxers with both teams scoring a run in the second and four runs in the third. Jonathan Schoop hit a solo homerun in the second and Wladimir Balentien hit a two run homerun in the third to spice up the Netherlands offense. Sho Nakata continued to stay hot with a three run homerun in the third. He finished the game 3 for 6 with 5 RBIs.

The Netherlands took the game into extra innings on a Jonathan Schoop RBI single in the ninth inning. With runners on second and third and two out and a chance to win the game Curt Smith struck out.

Japan threatened in the tenth, loading the bases with one out. Norichika Aoki grounded into a double play, with many thinking Curt Smith was off the base when he caught the relay throw from Andrelton Simmons.

While the starting pitching was disappointing for both teams the relief pitching was stellar. The Japanese bullpen allowed only the one run in the ninth inning. The Netherlands also limited Japan to one run until the eleventh inning. There were over 44,000 who attended the game.

Dominican Republic 10 Colombia 3

Colombia battled Dominican Republic to a 3-3 tie after 10 innings. The Dominican Republic exploded for seven runs in the eleventh inning with Jean Segura providing the big hit with a bases clearing three run double.

Colombia had an opportunity to win the game in the ninth. After Jorge Alfaro hit a solo shot in the eighth to tie the game at 3-3 Colombia put their first two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth. Donavan Solano grounded out to put runners on first and third with one out. Reynaldo Rodriguez lined a shot to Jose Bautista in left field. Pinch runner Oscar Mercado tagged from third but Bautista threw a strike home to cut off the winning run. Myworld would have liked to have been there to hear the roar from the Dominicans after that play.

Close to 37,000 watched the Dominican Republic advance to the second round. Colombian fans can take satisfaction that their win over Canada automatically qualifies them for the 2021 WBC, or whenever the next WBC is played.

United States 8 Canada 0

The United States advanced to the second round with another opportunity to play the Dominican Republic in their future with their win over Canada. Canada will have to qualify to play in the next WBC after their last place finish. The United States put the game away with seven runs in the first two innings. Nolan Arenado hit a three run homer in the second. Eric Hosmer hit the first of his two doubles in the first to drive in two runs.

Danny Dufy got the start for the United States throwing four shutout innings, allowing just two hits. Ryan Dempster had his second poor start of the WBC failing to get out of the first inning before allowing three walks and two hits in the three run first. Only 22,000 showed up to watch the game between the two North American teams, evidence the WBC is being financed by the party atmosphere of the Dominican Republic.

Puerto Rico 9 Italy 3

Puerto Rico scored all their runs in the first five innings to romp over Italy and advance to the second round undefeated. Italy will have to wait until the results of the Mexico/Venezuela game to determine their fate. Puerto Rico will also get another opportunity to play the Dominican Republic after losing to them in the finals of the 2013 WBC.

Carlos Correa hit a three run homer in the fourth to fuel the offense. Jose Berrios worked five innings to get the win. The only two hits he allowed were solo shots from Drew Butera and John Andreoli. The bullpen of Hiram Burgos and Miguel Mejia shutout the Italians on one hit the remaining four innings.

Israel Rolls Past Cuba; Venezuela Wins Wild Game

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Israel proved they are a team to contend with after their 4-1 win over Cuba, keeping them undefeated in WBC play. Jason Marquis went 5.2 innings, allowing just one run in taming the Cuban bats with his assortment of breaking pitches. Cuba scored their only run off him when Alfredo Despaigne lined one of his pitches over the centerfield wall in the second inning to give Cuba an early 1-0 lead.

Israel tied the game in the fourth when Ryan Lavarnway doubled into left field. Despaigne took long enough getting to the ball to allow Ike Davis to score from first. Noelvis Entenza would retire the next hitter, but the Lavarnway double was the first hit he had given up in the game. He left after the fourth inning with three walks, the third one costing him a run.

Israel scored two more in the sixth. Walks again hurt the Cubans. A Ty Kelly single and Nate Freiman walk set the stage for Zach Borenstein, who broke the tie with a single to right field, scoring Kelly. Blake Gailen doubled to increase the score to 3-1. The Israelis managed to load the bases but Livan Moinelo got Scott Burcham to fly out to end the inning.

A lead off walk in the eighth led to the fourth Israeli run. Zach Borenstein advanced to third on a Ryan Lavarnway single. Blake Gailen laid down a bunt to score Borenstein.

Cuba did not really mount much of an offensive threat until the eighth inning. They loaded the bases on a single and two walks, Despaigne walking to load the bases. Josh Zeid came on to pitch and retired William Saavedra on a ground out to end the threat. The Cubans were retired in order in the ninth, Josh Zeid picking up the save.

Venezuela 11 Italy 10

It took 10 innings but Venezuela made up for their disaster of a game against the Puerto Ricans. Jose Altuve stroked a one out single in the tenth and Martin Prado drove him in with a double. For Prado it was his fifth hit of the game. Jose Castillo retired the Italians in order in the tenth to cap the win.

It was not easy. The Venezuelans thought they had the game won after scoring two in the ninth to take a 10-8 lead. Salvador Perez hit a two run homer for what appeared to be a victory.

The pesky Italians who scored five runs in the ninth the previous night to beat Mexico again proved formidable. Rob Segedin reached second on a throwing error by Alcides Escobar. He scored after two ground outs but still Venezuela had a one run lead. An Alex Liddi single and walk to Drew Butera put two runners on. Gavin Cecchini singled to score pinch runner Drew Maggi. Butera was not pinch run for and he tried to score on the hit but was thrown out at home. Myworld wonders where the pinch runner was for Butera. The game went to extra innings.

Italy had taken an early 5-0 lead after four innings. Daniel Descalso had driven in three runs with his two hits. Alex Liddo and Brandon Nimmo blasted solo homeruns in the fourth.

Venezuela stormed back, led by the 5 for 5 night from Martin Prado. He drove in three runs. The Venezuelans tacked on eight runs in the fifth through seventh innings. Italy scored one in the seventh and two in the eighth to send it into the ninth tied 8-8. There were 12,187 in attendance enjoying the slugfest.

Colombia 4 Canada 1

Julio Teheran pitched five innings of two hit ball to lead the Colombians to an upset win over the Canadians. Now all they have to do is beat the Dominicans for an opportunity to advance to the second round, or a Canadian win over the United States team. Canada has shown you can’t use the success of a 2011 roster to fill your 2017 roster if those players have taken off a couple years from playing.

The game did not start out well for Teheran. In the first inning a walk and two singles, the last by Freddie Freeman gave the Canadians an early run. Freedie Freeman was then caught stealing second as Tyler O’Neil struck out on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning. Teheran settled down after that, allowing just one hit over the next four innings.

Colombia scored their first run in the third when Donavan Solano drove in his brother Jhonatan with a single. Donavan was thrown out at second trying to advance a base on the throw home. For the Colombians it was the Solano show on offense.

Colombia added another run in the fifth to take the lead. Tito Polo slapped a two out single to center, stole second and scored on another Donavan Solano single. The Solano brothers struck again in the sixth with Jhonatan taking a walk with the bases loaded to drive in the third run. Jhonatan ended his day in the ninth with a leadoff double. Oscar Mercado pinch ran for him and scored on a Tito Polo bunt single after Scott Mathieson threw the ball away.

Canada could not mount any kind of offense against the under rated Colombian pitching staff. Yohan Pino came in to replace Teheran and tossed three innings of one hit shutout relief. Dayan Diaz gave up two back to back singles after striking out the first two hitters, but ended the inning and the game with a strikeout to secure the victory.

Puerto Rico 9 Mexico 4

In two games Mexico has now given up 9 runs in the ninth inning. Puerto Rico scored four in the top of the ninth to turn a close 5-4 game into a 9-4 rout. Javier Baez had the big hit with a three run homer. Francisco Lindor hit two homeruns for Puerto Rico, a two run homer in the first and a solo shot in the seventh that gave Puerto Rico a 5-1 lead. Mexico bounced back scoring three runs in the bottom half to make the game close.

Jorge Lopez got the start and the win for Puerto Rico allowing just one run on two hits in his 4.1 innings of work. A crowd of over 15,000 showed up to watch Mexico get almost eliminated from any shot of advancing to the second round. They have to beat Venezuela and hope Puerto Rico is fired up enough to beat the Italians to create a three way tie for second. Puerto Rico guaranteed themselves an opportunity to advance, but they must still beat Italy to advance as the first seed.

Dominican Rally Stuns United States Team

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Myworld has not been to a World Series game but we have attended a number of playoff games in San Diego, D.C. and Baltimore and it gets no louder than the noise at Marlins stadium last night. Especially after Nelson Cruz sealed the comeback by the Dominicans with his three run homerun to lead the Dominicans over the United States 7-5.

It was not so easy this time for the Dominicans. They had trouble making solid contact off United States starter Marcus Stroman. He allowed just two hits in his four plus innings of work. A two out single by Starling Marte in the fifth put Stroman at his pitch count and Tanner Roark came on to get the last out. The bullpen could not hold the 5-0 lead.

Meanwhile the United States team peppered Dominican starter Edinson Volquez. The Dominican’s defensive deficiencies also led to a couple runs. In the third Carlos Santana was unable to scoop a one hop throw from Robinson Cano to allow Ian Kinsler to reach. Adam Jones lined a ball into right center field. Nelson Cruz and Starling Marte both went for the ball and as they both reached for the ball their arms collided sending the ball into the right field warning track. Kinsler scored and Adam Jones stopped at third on the three base error. Christian Yelich blooped a single into left field to score Jones, advancing to second when Jose Bautista over ran the ball. Nolan Arenado lined to third to end the inning.

The United States tacked on another run off Volquez in the fourth. Paul Goldschmidt singled with a wild pitch advancing him to second. Giancarlo Stanton walked. Jonathan Lucroy lined a ball to right center. Nelson Cruz yielded to Marte who made the catch for the second out. Brandon Crawford lined a single to center to score Goldschmidt.

The United States tacked on two more runs off Jumbo Diaz to take a commanding 5-0 lead. Paul Goldschmidt again got the inning started with a single and scored when Giancarlo Stanton muscled a drive to left center for a double. Fernando Abad came on to face the lefty Brandon Crawford. Brandon scored Giancarlo with a double to right field to make it 5-0.

Tanner Roark opened the Tiger’s den for the Dominicans, putting their fans back in the game when he gave up a monster homerun to Manny Machado in the bottom of the sixth. The ball cleared the left field bleachers and bounced on the pavilion. Tanner appeared flustered after that, with the crowd momentum shifting to the Dominican side. His breaking pitches bounced in the dirt and his fastballs drifted off the plate. Robinson Cano and Jose Bautista walked. Carlos Santana singled up the middle to score a second run. Roark still struggled to throw strikes but got Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre to fly out to end the inning.

Myworld was surprised to see Roark start the seventh. He didn’t last long, giving up a leadoff double to Wellington Castillo. Daniel Robertson came on to replace Roark. Wellington Castillo launced a double over the head of leftfielder Christian Yelich to cut the lead to 5-3. Robertson was able to slither out of the inning, stranding Castillo at third when Manny Machado grounded out to third and Robinson Cano struck out. With the momentum shifted it was only a matter of time before the Dominicans took the lead.

When you saw Andrew Miller take the mound in the eighth there was a sense of comfort if you were a United States fan. He got ahead of Jose Bautista 0-2 but then bounced a pitch in the dirt that hit Bautista. Carlos Santana bounced a ball up the middle, Ian Kinsler made a spectacular diving play to get to the ball, but his throw to second was off the base and the Dominicans had the tying runs on with Nelson Cruz at the plate. Miller got ahead in the count 0-2 but Cruz put a charge in his next pitch that cleared the left field wall just inside the foul pole for a 6-5 Dominican lead. The crowd went wild as if 20,000 sticks of dynamite had just exploded at the same time. Cruz cruised around the bases in a maniacal celebration of joy as the Dominicans had taken the lead. A batter later Starling Marte drove a pitch over the right field wall and the crowd again erupted in joy. Marte could not hold his emotions as he danced his way around the bases to give the Dominicans a 7-5 lead.

It was all over for the sullen United States team. Jeurys Familia came on to pitch the ninth, blowing smoke, with his fastball hitting three digits. The United States was retired in order with the Ian Kinsler strikeout for the third out sending the Dominican fans waving their flags and the crowd celebrating. There was a lot of dancing in the aisles and hugging on the field as the Dominicans had just defeated the United States 7-5.

Game Notes: It was still impossible for myworld to get to the game on time even after a 4 PM departure for a 630 game. Traffic getting to the stadium was backed up and parking was impossible to find. Myworld finally parked in a worn down area of Little Havana, where a parking spot opened up for me. I was grateful my car was still intact when the game had ended…Myworld is convinced the stadium was plopped down right in the middle of a neighborhood. There is no easy access to the stadium, parking is limited, with the housing owners charging for parking on their front lawns or in their backyard your only real option. Myworld does not know how Marlins fans can tolerate the chaos. Now we have a better understanding of why their attendance is so low…The automated ticket laser delayed the entry into the stadium. It may be able to ensure tickets are valid but waiting for the laser to recognize the bar code is much slower than tearing off a ticket stub. There was really no line trying to get in the park, just a mob of fans 20 yards deep pushing towards the ticket attendees with their laser guns…The women and their fashion exhibits were again spectacular. Backless outfits seemed to be in vogue for this game, but the cleavage was still heavily advertised…There were 37,466 at the game. Most of them were Dominican fans with signs crying out for Plantain power…Manny Machado is not wearing uniform number 13. He is wearing number 3…This had all the atmosphere of a playoff game. As one Dominican said to me - “Don’t worry. The United States played well. But no one beats the Dominicans in baseball.” They are the defending champs so I will have to give him his chops. We’ll see how they play against Japan.

United States Slides Past Colombia; Puerto Rico Routs Venezuela

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Adam Jones hit a walk off single in the bottom of the tenth inning to give the United States a 3-2 scrapper over Colombia. For Jones it was his second RBI of the game.

The big bats of the United States were contained in the first four innings by Jose Quintana. They were held hitless against Quintana with the only baserunner a Paul Goldschmidt walk to lead off the second. He was quickly erased when Buster Posey grounded into a double play. On the United States side Chris Archer was perfect for 12 innings to tame the Colombian bats.

When the United States went with Mychal Givens to pitch the fifth the Colombians struck, doing it all after the first two hitters struck out. Jesus Valdez, Adrian Sanchez and Mauricio Ramos hit back to back to back doubles to put the United States in a deep hole.

The sixth inning did not look promising for the United States after the first two hitters struck out. A single by Brandon Crawford and the mandatory pitch count ended the day for Quintana to the relief of the United States bats. William Cuevas replaced Quintana and gave up a single to Ian Kinsler. Adam Jones drove in his first run with a double to left. Nolan Arenado struck out but the ball skipped past the catcher allowing Ian Kinsler to score from third with the tying run.

The bats went quiet again for both teams. Nate Jones made things exciting by walking two Colombian hitters in the top of the eighth. Pat Neshek bailed him out by getting Donavan Solano to line into a double play. Tito Polo strayed too far off first on the liner and Arenado doubled him off. In the bottom half of the inning the United States put runners on first and third with one out but Adam Jones struck out and Nolan Arenado lined out to end the threat.

In the top of the ninth two two out singles by Jorge Alfaro and Jhonaton Solano put runners on first and third with two outs. Jesus Valdez struck out swinging to end the threat. Greg Nappo came on for Colombia and retired the United States team in order in the ninth.

In the tenth Nappo was not so sharp. He walked Christian Yelich and Brandon Crawford after retiring the first batter. Ian Kinsler grounded out to second but Yelich and Crawford advanced a base. That brought up Adam Jones who struck out in his last at bat with a runner on third. Nolan Arenado was hanging out on deck. The Colombians pitched to Jones and he lined a single to center to give the United States a 3-2 win.

The next game for the United States will be against the Dominicans. There were 22,580 at the park to see the United States victory. It could be a donnybrook tonight. Myworld is expecting a sell out.

Puerto Rico 11 Venezuela 0

It was an embarrassment to the Venezuelans. Maybe the players were protesting their government and decided not to show up. Seth Lugo went 5.1 innings allowing just one hit. The lineup of Jose Altuve, Martin Prado, Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Gonzalez did not get their first runner on until Miguel Cabrera hit a two out single in the fourth. How that many bats can remain silent for that long a time against Seth Lugo is a mystery. The game only went seven, mercifully ending for the slaughter rule. Myworld remembers when the United States lost by the slaughter rule and it wasn’t pretty watching them trudge off the field like a beaten boxer.

Puerto Rico was also hitless against the Venezuelan ace Felix Hernandez for the first two innings. Eddie Rosario changed that, leading off the third with a triple. He scored on a T.J. Rivera sacrifice fly. The Puerto Ricans would not end their assault on Felix there. Reymond Fuentes singled and Francisco Lindor walked. Carlos Correa reached on a fielding error by Martin Prado to load the bases. A walk to Carlos Beltran forced in a run and drove Felix from the game. Gregory Infante came on to pitch, retiring Yadier Molina on a fly out to end the inning.

That is the way it stayed until the sixth. Venezuela brought some of their fans to life after Miguel Cabrera was intentionally walked to load the bases with two outs. Carlos Gonzalez could not take advantage of his opportunity, swinging and missing for strike three.

In the bottom half Carlos Correa struck quickly with a lead off homer. Carlos Beltran walked and Yadier Molina went deep. Three batters in and it was 5-0. The rout was on.

The Puerto Ricans put the game away in the seventh, scoring most of their runs after two were out. Eddie Rosario stroked the fourth consecutive hit for the Puerto Ricans with a two run double to make it 9-0. T.J. Rivera followed, invoking the slaughter rule with his two run homer to make it 11-0. The Venezuelans had to walk off the field knowing the Puerto Ricans gave them a bruising beat down.

A crowd of 14,806 came to watch the game, a very good turn out since the local team from Mexico was not playing.

Cuba Advances to Second Round with Win Over Australia; Italy with Wild Win Over Mexico

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Despite their watered down roster Cuba was able to beat Australia 4-3 to advance to the second round of the WBC. Alfredo Despaigne hit a grand slam homerun in the fifth to provide all the scoring for Cuba. It was his second homerun of the WBC.

Australia got a solo homerun from Trent Oeltjen in the seventh to cut the lead to 4-2. They scored another run in the eighth on a two out Luke Hughes double and an RBI single in the eighth. Tim Kennelly singled to put runners on first and second for Oeltjen to play hero but he struck out. Australia was retired in order in the ninth by Migual Lahera, the last two by strikeouts.

The Aussies did have some trouble making contact with runners in scoring position. In the third inning with the bases loaded and two out Logan Wade struck out to foil a rally. In the fourth inning with two runners on Luke Hughes struck out. After they had scored a run in the fifth Brad Harman struck out to end the inning, stranding an additional two runners. With runners on first and third and no out in the sixth Luke Hughes struck out and Mitchell Denning grounded into a double play. So the opportunities were there for Australia to win the game, ultimately stranding 15 runners on base.

Australia also had two outs in the fifth with no one on when Cuba began their rally with two singles and a walk to load the bases. Lachlan Wells stayed on to face Alfredo Despaigne and Despaigne deposited a ball into the left centerfield bleachers.

Warwick Saupold pitched four innings of shutout ball for Australia in his start. Australian pitchers combined to strike out 10 Cubans while Cuban pitchers combined to strike out 11 Aussies. The attendance was listed at over 38,000 but most of those fans were not there, waiting to attend the night game with Japan playing China.

Italy 10 Mexico 9

Italy stunned Mexico with five runs in the bottom of the ninth. Roberto Osuna and Oliver Perez could not retire a batter as Brandon Nimmo singled to pull Italy within one and John Andreoli hit the walk off single, scoring two.

Mexico was in charge for most of the game. Esteban Quiroz led the game off with a homerun. Italy bounced back with a homerun by John Andreoli, their number two hitter in the game.

Quiroz doubled in the third inning to give Mexico a 2-1 lead. In the fourth a Japhet Amador solo shot and a Sebastian Elizalde single upped the lead to 4-1.

Italy came back and tied the game in the bottom half of the fourth. Rob Segedin launched a two run homerun and Chris Colabello hit a solo shot.

Mexico took what appeared to be in control of the game with three runs in the fifth. Efren Navarro walked to force in a run and Luis Alfonso Cruz doubled to drive in two. Drew Butera homered for Italy to close the lead to 7-5.

Mexico scored two in the seventh on a two run single by Sebastian Elizalde. With the score now 9-5 the game looked done. Italy went down meekly in the seventh and eighth. Roberto Osuna came on to start the ninth. The home crowd was celebrating their victory.

The bats came to life for Italy with back to back to back doubles by Francisco Cervelli, Chris Colabello and Alex Liddi to make the score 9-7 and get the fans a little bit nervous. An error on a ground ball to shortstop Luis Alfonso Cruz put runners on first and third with no outs. Drew Maggi walked to load the bases. Roberto Osuna left the game and Oliver Perez came on to replace him with the tying run on second. Brandon Nimmo lined a single to right field to pull Italy to within one and John Andreoli grounded a single to second baseman Luis Urias where two runs scored to give Italy the win.

There were 14,296 crushed Mexican fans who left the park.

Japan 7 China 1

Japan had already clinched first in the first round. China scored their first run of the WBC but still lost 7-1. After finishing last in this round China will have to qualify for the next WBC.

Japan scored early getting two run homeruns from Seiji Kobayashi in the second and Sho Nakata in the third to jump out to an early lead. For Nakata it was his second homerun of the WBC.

China scored their lone run in the third on a Ray Chang single. They had runners on first and third with one out but Chuang Na grounded out to end the inning. They had no real scoring opportunities after that. Japanese pitchers struck out 12 Chinese hitters.