World Baseball Classic Update

March 7, 2009

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I was going to wait until midweek to do this update, but I’m too excited about the WBC to wait.

Pool A

Game 2:
Korea clobbered Taipei 9-0. The starting pitcher for Taipei was knocked out after 1/3 of an inning. He allowed two hits (including a grand slam by Jin Young Lee), walked three batters, and hit a man. The bullpen actually did a decent job, but the horse was already out of the barn at that point.

Game 3 (loser eliminated)
The losers of games 1 and 2, China and Taipei, met in this game. China starting pitcher Lu Jiangang pitched into the sixth inning and allowed just one run. Ray Chang was 3-4 with a homer, a double, two RBI, and a run scored. China won the game 4-1. Taipei is eliminated from the tournament. China will face the winner of game 4 to determine who survives.

Game 4 (winner automatically advances)
In the winner’s bracket, Japan trounced Korea 14-2, as the mercy rule (ahead 10+ runs after 7 innings or 15+ runs after 5 innings) comes into play. Korea’s starting pitcher Kwang Hynug Kim was touched up for eight runs in 1 1/3 innings of work. Jpana starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka was pretty good through four innings, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks. The two runs came in the first inning. Daisuke settled down after that point. The Japanese bullpen was dominant, allowing no hits and one walk over the final three innings. The margin of victory over a quality opponent is definitely a feather in the hat of Team Japan.

Korea will face China in game 5. The loser will be eliminated. The winner will face Japan in game 6 to determine who is the pool winner for pool A. This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Clearly, the winner of the winner’s bracket would be the pool winner.

Pool B

No games have been played.

Game 1 will feature a monstrous mismatch, with Cuba facing South Africa. I’m predicting a mercy rule outcome – perhaps even the 5th inning mercy rule (one team ahead by 15 runs)

Game 2 will be Mexico against Australia. This game is in Mexico City. The house should be rockin’, and Mexico should win.

Pool C

Game 1:
This was a border war between the US and Canada. The game lived up to its billing, with the US winning 6-5. There were five homeruns in the game – two by Canada and three by the US. Adam Dunn had the homer that put the US ahead 6-3. Kevin Youkilis and Brian McCann also homered for the US, while Joey Votto and Russell Martin hit dingers for Team Canada.

Game 2:
Italy starting pitcher Mark DiFelice did not allow any runs for the first four innings against favored Venezuela. In the fifth inning, the wheels came off, with relievers Jason Grilli and Lenny DiNardo allowing four runs. Venezuela went on to win 7-0. Venezuela starter Carlos Silva scattered six hits in four innings, allowing no runs. Felix Hernandex went four innings and allow just one hit and no runs.

The US will face Venezuela in the winner’s bracket (game 4), with the winner clinching a spot in the next round. This should be a good game.

Canada be favored against Italy in the loser’s bracket (game 3), with the loser being eliminated.

Pool D:

Game 1:
The shock of the tournament so far was Netherland’s 3-2 defeat of the Dominican Republic. The Dutch were not considered to be serious contenders, whereas the Dominicans were one of the popular picks to win the WBC. The Netherlands loaded the bases in the first with a single, a bunt single, and a walk. A run sored on a wild pitch by Edinson Volquez, and two more scored on a Hanley Ramirez error. Sidney Ponson and the bullpen held on for a 3-2 win. Dominican Willy Taveras was gunned down trying to steal third base to end the game. The talent differential between these two teams is rather large; this definitely qualifies as a major upset. Note: the Netherlands includes players from the islands of the Netherlands Antilles, such as Curacao.

Game 2:
Puerto Rico’s Ivan Rodriguez homered twice, and teammate Carlos Delgado hit another as Puerto Rico beat Panama 7-0. Javier Vasquez and the PR bullpen held Panama to five hits.

Netherlands will face Puerto Rico in the winner’s bracket (game 4) with the winner clinching a spot in the next round. Puerto Rico will be a big favorite in that game.

Domincan Republic will face Panama in the loser’s bracket (game 3) with the loser being eliminated from the tournament. Dominican Republic will be a big favorite in that game.

Note: I am going to continue to provide WBC updates as I have the time. I will also be doing some other posts, so you may see several days that have more than one post.

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