Archive for the 'World Baseball Classic' Category

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.

Dominican Republic Overwhelms Canada

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Myworld is not too sure if we went to a party while a baseball game was being played in Miami, or if we went to a baseball game and a party erupted. It was a bit wild at Marlins park last night with the Dominican Republic overwhelming Canada 9-2 and at least 20,000 Dominican fans enjoying it. Now we have a sense of what the Series del Caribe must have been like when many of the stars still played in the event.

Getting to the stadium from West Palm Beach was a real challenge. Traffic was stop and go for much of the way as we arrived closer to Miami and parking seemed chaotic. A neighborhood took advantage of the lack of parking choices offered, charging $15 for you to park in their back yard or on their front lawn. Myworld did not get into the game until the second inning. There were also hundreds of Dominican fans arriving late to the ballgame.

Needless to say Marlins Park is a different park. Perhaps we arrived from the wrong side of the stadium but there was a lot of walking before we could find the correct entrance. The security was conducted about 100 yards from the ticket entrance. Once we arrived at the ticket entrance we still had to walk along a long concrete path to actually get to the actual stadium entrance. It seemed endless and by the time we arrived the Dominicans seemed to have the game under control 4-0.

When you compare the teams position by position the only area Canada had an advantage was first base, where you would take Freddie Freeman over Carlos Santana. Otherwise it was Robinson Cano advantage over Pete Orr, Jose Reyes advantage over Jonathan Malo (his last name being bad in Spanish), Manny Machado over Eric Wood at third base and the list goes on. It is no wonder the Dominicans won 9-2.

In the second inning the Dominicans seemed to exploit the open area on the right side of the infield. Pete Orr was playing just a shade to the right of second base and the Dominicans slapped two singles through that hole. We just missed the Wellington Castillo two run homer but we heard the roar as we trudged up the long concrete pathway to get to the entrance to the park.

The Canadians stayed in the game thanks to some poor fielding by the Dominicans, specifically Carlos Santana at first base. In the third inning Jonathan Malo bounced a ball up the middle. Jose Reyes fielded it but his throw was off the base. Carlos Santana tried to make a sweep tag but the ball escaped from his glove and rolled into right field. Malo ended up at second base where he would eventually score on a balk.

In the top of the fifth the Canadians would add one more run to pull to within two. Pete Orr bounced a single up the middle. Manny Machado made a nice play on a Jonathan Malo grounder but failed to turn two when Carlos Santana could not scoop the one bounce throw to first. Dalton Pompey bounced a ball to the left centerfield warning track where Malo was able to turn on the after burners and score his second run of the game. Hansel Robles was able to strike out Justin Morneau and Tyler O’Neil to limit the damage.

In the bottom frame the Dominicans ran themselves out of a potential big inning. Jose Bautista lined a single into centerfield. Carlos Santana drilled a ball over the centerfielder’s head. Bautista was waved home, appeared to be losing gas as he rounded third and Malo rifled a perfect throw home to nail the now chugging Bautista by five feet. Jim Henderson walked Nelson Cruz and gave up a RBI single to left field to Adrian Beltre, departing the game without really retiring a batter. Kevin Chapman retired the next two hitters to limit the damage to 5-2.

Kevin Chapman came on to start the sixth and gave up a leadoff single to Jose Reyes. Reyes stole second but had to hold there after an infield single by Manny Machado on a nice stop by Malo in the hole. A wild pitch advanced them but it did not matter when Jose Bautista drove a pitch from the recently arrived Dustin Molleken deep into the left field bleachers. He did a bit of admiring the shot from home plate. That about iced the game 8-2.

The Dominicans scored their last run in the seventh. The inning should have ended with runners on first and third with one out and Jose Reyes lined out to second. Castillo had wandered too far off second and the throw from Orr to first went past Freeman and into the Canadian dugout for an error to allow the runner on third to score.

In the ninth Fernando Rodney came on to start the inning and struck out the first two hitters he faced. He was replaced on the mound but before departing he did his patented bow and arrow pose at least twice before heading to the dugout, to the delight of the Dominicans in the crowd. Jeurys Familia struck out pinch hitter Josh Naylor to end the game.

Game Notes: You have to love the enthusiasm of the Dominicans at the game. The attendance was announced at 27,388. Over 20,000 had to be Dominicans with about 100 Canadians. The rest were neutral observers like me enjoying the party atmosphere put on by the Dominicans…The Dominican women dressed to the game as if this was an Oscar ceremony. There were no fashionable gowns, but some of the jeans looked like they were painted on and the cleavage was showing. Sometimes it was very hard for myworld to focus on the game…Only the top rows seemed not filled at the stadium. Hopefully myworld will arrive a little earlier on Saturday to explore the stadium…What we did notice was the food prices at the concessions seemed extremely expensive, but the wait lines were at least one inning, so the people were buying at the prices that were being offered.

Israel Downs Netherlands; Korea and Aussies Win

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Since the game did not mean anything it would be difficult to call it an upset. The Netherlands started Rob Cordemans, their hero of many Olympics, World Baseball Cups and World Baseball Classics. The 42 year old lasted just one inning with Israel strafing him for four hits and three runs in their eventual 4-2 win. Nate Frieman hit a double to score one run, Ryan Lavarnway singled to score another. It could have been worse with Israel loading the bases for Scott Burcham who struck out to end the inning.

Israel trotted out nine pitchers for the nine inning game, Jason Marquis finishing the first inning. The strategy seemed to work as the Netherlands bats never found their groove. Jurickson Profar was their only offense, getting three of the five Dutch hits. A Profar double after Randolph Oduber drew a leadoff walk put runners on second and third with one out where a ground ball scored the first run for the Dutch in the third inning.

In the sixth Profar led the inning off with a double but was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple. Israel scored in the bottom frame to pull ahead 4-1, taking advantage of an error, walk and hit by pitch to load the bases with no out. A ground out double play got two outs but a run scored.

The best opportunity Netherlands had to win the game was in the eighth when an error and two walks loaded the bases. Another error cut the lead to 4-2, keeping the bases loaded with one out. Didi Gregorius grounded into a double play to end the threat.

The Dutch also saved their pitching staff throwing seven different pitchers. Josh Zeid was the most worked Israeli pitcher, the manager calling on him to get five outs. Attendance was listed at 2,700. Both Israel and Netherlands advance to the second round.

Korea 11 Taiwan 8

The two Asian teams battled it out in an important game that did not have playoff implications but the winner got an automatic bid for the next WBC, if there is one and the loser had to qualify. The Korean bats finally came alive for the 11-8 win, scoring three in the tenth inning to secure the victory. Tae-Kyun Kim mashed a two run homer to close out the three run tenth.

Korea had jumped out to an early 6-0 lead but Taiwan battled back with three in the bottom of the second. Pitching was non-existent for the first four innings with Korea leading 8-5 at that point. The Korean bats quieted the next five innings while Taiwan scored three to send it into the tenth.

Korea relied on Seung-Hwan Oh to pitch the last two innings to capture the win. When rosters were being considered Korean fans did not want Oh on the roster because of his implications to overseas gambling. Oh is currently under suspension if he wants to ever come back to the KBO to finish his career.

Australia 11 China 0

Australia kept their hopes of advancing to the first round with a 11-0 clobbering of China. This sets up a final match with Cuba with the winner advancing to the second round. Travis Blackley allowed just two hits in his 4.2 innings of work. The game ended after eight when Australia scored four runs on a James Beresford grand slam.

Ex-major leaguer Luke Hughes had a big bat for Australia with two hits and four RBIs, including a two run homer in the third. James Beresford walked three times to allow him to score three runs and Brad Harman also scored three runs. China has yet to score a run in these games, their offense only accumulating just six hits. Their final game is against Japan, who has already clinched a first seed advancement to the second round. China has no hope of finishing away from the basement and will have to qualify for the next WBC.

Only 3,013 attended the game between Australia and China.

Netherlands Clinches Second Round Advance in WBC

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

One of the disadvantages of bracket play with the top two teams advancing is how early teams can clinch their advancement to the second round. Israel and Netherlands have already clinched advancing to the second round with Netherlands 6-5 win over Taiwan. Now it is just a matter of determining who advances as the number one seed. The remaining two games in the bracket do not amount to much.

Netherlands inched past Taiwan 6-5 last night, taking advantage of a ninth inning error, a hit by pitch and a single to load the bases with no outs. Jurickson Profar coaxed a walk off walk to allow Netherlands to come out victors.

It did not come easy for the Netherlands. In the fifth Taiwan erupted for three runs to take a 5-4 lead. Chih-Hao Chang slugged a two run homer to tie the game at 4-4. Taiwan strung together two more singles after the homerun to put runners on first and third and still there were no outs. A ground out when the Netherlands could not turn two scored a run. After a strikeout Taiwan again loaded the bases with a hit by pitch and infield single. Che-Hsuan Lin flied out to end the inning.

The Taiwan pitchers shut down Netherlands for three innings. In the eighth back to back singles by Xander Bogaerts and Wladimir Balentien put runners on first and second with no outs. A double play ground out appeared to put the embers out for a rally. Fu-Te Ni came on to pitch to end the threat. Didi Gregorius lined a double to left field to tie the game and leading to the exit of Ni. Hung-Wen Chen came on to retire Yurendell Decaster on a ground out to send the game into the ninth inning tied.

Balentein finished the game 4 for 4 for the Netherlands and Didi as the DH was 3 for 4 with 3 doubles and three RBIs. Mike Bolsenbroek pitched three late shutout innings to allow the Netherlands to get back in the game. Chang was the big bat for Taiwan with his three hits including his big two run homerun, the only extra base hit for Taiwan in the game. Attendance was listed at 3,606.

Cuba 6 China 0

China could manage only one hit against the Cuban pitching. Bladimir Banos gave up that hit with one out in the fifth. Cuba scored four of their six runs in the fourth to put the game on ice. Roel Santos had the big hit with a two run triple. He finished the game 3 for 5. Alexander Ayala was 3 for 4 with an RBI double in the fourth inning.

Bruce Chen shut out Cuba for the first 2.2 innings of work. He was taken out of the game after getting Ayala to ground into a double play. His replacement Xia Luo would give up the four runs in the fourth inning.

There were 39,102 who came out to see the game at the Tokyo Dome, a good crowd considering Japan was not playing. That must have been a misprint because attendance was sparse according to reports myworld received of those who attended the game. It was so empty that many filtered down to the lower section to watch the game.

Japan 4 Australia 1

Through the first four innings an Allen de San Miguel homerun was the only run of the game, giving Australia a 1-0 lead. Tim Atherton finally cracked giving up a leadoff double to Hayato Sakamoto. An infield single put runners on first and third where Lachlan Wells replaced Atherton and gave up a sacrifice fly to Nobuhiro Matsuda to tie the game.

In the seventh a Sho Nakata homerun put Japan up 2-1. They put the game away in the eighth on a two run homer from Yoshitomo Tsutsugo.

Australia had an opportunity to take the lead in the fifth after Japan had tied the game 1-1. With the bases loaded and one out James Beresford grounded into a double play. That was really the last opportunity the Japanese pitching staff allowed them to score a run.

There were 41,408 at the Tokyodome.

Israel Blasts Taiwan; Japan and Netherlands also Win

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

In the professional league in Taiwan (CPBL) the teams are allowed to sign three foreign players. Those three foreign players are usually starting pitchers. When the season starts the four CBL’s four professional teams have three of their five or six starting pitchers filled by foreigners, leaving little opportunity for Taiwan pitchers to develop. That was on full display yesterday with Israel battering Taiwan 15-7, collecting 20 hits. Israel scored at least one run against each pitcher Taiwan threw out to the mound except Chen-Hua Lin, who only got two outs but still gave up two hits. Even ex-major leaguer Fu-Te Ni was banged around for three runs while he could only retire one hitter.

Meanwhile, Corey Baker, a non-descript minor leaguer who has only gotten six starts in AAA shut out Taiwan for four plus innings, allowing just three hits. Israel pounced on Taiwan starter Chun-Lin Kuo for six hits and four runs in the first inning as he was only able to retire two hitters. Ike Davis and Tyler Krieger each had two run singles to fuel the offense in the opening frame.

Ryan Lavarnway hit a two run homer in the third to up the Israel lead to 6-0. Taiwan made it a game with three runs in the sixth. Chih-Sheng Lin drove in the first two runs with a double. A sacrifice fly by Yi-Chuan Lin scored the third run to make it 6-3.

The hope for a comeback was only brief as Israel pulled away with five runs in the seventh. Nate Frieman and Tyler Krieger drove in runs with a single and Scott Burcham bunted for a single to score one run with two additional runs scoring when the ball was thrown away.

Nate Freiman hit a 3-run homerun in the top of the ninth to close out the scoring for Israel. Taiwan pushed across four runs in the bottom of the ninth to keep the game respectable. Only 3,287 were in attendance for the game. Israel has virtually assured themselves a spot in the second round.

Japan 11 Cuba 7

They say most of the good Cuban pitchers have left the island. This appeared quite evident with Japan’s 11-7 thrashing of Cuba. A five run fifth put them up 7-1. Nobuhiro Matsuda blasted a three run homer to left field to account for most of the runs.

Cuba would fight back, scoring three in the seventh, Alfredo Despaigne hitting a solo shot and Guillermo Aviles slashing a two run single to pull Cuba to within 7-4. Japan responded with two in the bottom frame, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo slugging a two run homer to extend the lead to 9-4.

Cuba scored two in the top of the eighth after a two run double by Yurisbel Gracial. Japan responded again with two in the bottom frame on a Nobuhiro Matsuda RBI single and a Seiji Kobayashi sacrifice fly.

In the top of the ninth Cuba put their first two runners on base and were able to load the bases with two outs and their big hitter Alfredo Despaigne at the plate. Kazuhisa Makita was able to strike him out to end the game.

Japan hitters were able to score at least one run against all the Cuban pitchers thrown out there. Noelvis Entenza got the start for Cuba but lasted only 1.1 innings after giving up four hits. Cuban managers are infamous for pulling their pitchers early. Ayumu Ishikawa worked four innings for Japan, allowing just one run on two hits.

A good crowd of 44,908 were at the game to watch the Japanese victory.

Netherlands 5 South Korea 0

The Korean bats were absent a second straight day. Coming into the WBC the Korean manager was worried about their pitching, but it is their bats that have failed them. Korea has only scored one run in two games. Rick Vandenhurk getting the start and leading the charge with four shutout innings. Four different pitchers completed the shutout with Diegomar Markwell going two innings and 7′1″ Loek van Mil closing it out in the ninth. Korea could manage only six hits.

Jurickson Profar got the offense started early with a two run homer in the first inning, rewarding the leadoff single from Andrelton Simmons. Kyu-Min Woo got the start for Korea. He gave up an Andrelton Simmons RBI double in the second and was gone after two outs in the third inning, giving up three runs on six hits.

The Dutch extended the lead in the sixth after a two run homer from Randolph Oduber to make it 5-0. Korea failed to advance a runner past second base, grounding into three double plays.

No attendance figures were given on the game. Netherlands next plays Taiwan and a win would virtually clinch both Israel and Netherlands advancing to the second round, making the next two games meaningless, though Israel and Netherlands would be playing for seeding.

Israel Shocks South Korea in WBC Opener

Monday, March 6th, 2017

The manager for South Korea stated he feared Israel prior to their WBC opener. That fear proved founded after Israel downed South Korea 2-1 last night. Scott Burcham made amends for an earlier strikeout that spoiled a rally by bouncing a single up the middle for an infield single that scored the go ahead run in the tenth inning. Josh Zeid came on for his third inning of work and retired South Korea in order, striking out the last two hitters to close out the victory.

Walks killed South Korea. A leadoff walk to Nate Freiman in the second inning led to the first run for Israel. Zach Borenstein moved Freiman to third with a double. Korean pitcher Won-Jun Chang struck out Cody Decker, but then he walked the next two hitters to force in a run. A strikeout and ground out limited the damage to just one run.

A walk to Ike Davis in the tenth inning led to the winning run scoring. Chang-Yong Lim issued that walk. A Ryan Lavarnway single moved Davis to third where he was replaced by pinch runner Mike Meyers. After a pop out Burcham came through with his single to put Israel up for good.

Korea tied the game in the fifth, taking advantage of a leadoff walk and hit be pitch to lead off the inning. Geon-Chang Seo bounced a single into left field to score Kyoung-Min Hur to tie the game. Two popups stunted the rally from going further.

Both teams had chances to score in the later innings to prevent the game from going into extra innings. Singles by Ah-Seop Son and Eui-Ji Yang put runners on first and second with one out. Kyoung-Min Hur grounded into a double play to end the inning. In the eighth inning a walk to Tae-Kyun Kim and single by Ah-Seop Son put runners on first and third with one out. Byung-Hun Min grounded to third. Pinch runner Jae-Won Oh broke for home but was thrown out. Eui-Ji Yang popped out to end the threat.

In the seventh Israel loaded the bases with just one out. Blake Gailen lined out to shortstop. Israel loaded the bases again in the eighth after a walk, double and intentional walk. A ground out third to home got the second out bringing on Seung-Hwan Oh. He struck out Scott Burcham to end the inning.

There were 15,470 who watched the game at Gocheok Sky Dome, a facility that can hold 22,000. Korea has had a number of injuries to decimate their roster as well as DUIs against Jung-Ho Kang that forced the team to take him off the roster. Perhaps the Korean baseball fans were not interested in watching Israel, or they have become disillusioned by all the press reports of injuries to the Korean team that they lost interest in the WBC. It is disappointing that it was not a sellout, unless 15,470 is capacity for baseball at Gocheok Sky Dome.

Israel next plays Taiwan. A win would guarantee them an advance to the second round. South Korea will play Netherlands. A loss would eliminate them from advancing to the second round, unless two other teams go 1-2.