Yesterday was a pretty crazy day in the World Baseball Classic. The Dominican Republic and Colombia played a beautiful game that was marred with extra inning rules. I understand why the WBC has pitch count rules and puts runners on base starting in the eleventh inning. It makes sense, but I still don’t like it. This game could have gone twenty innings and fans still would have been into it. Unfortunately, the ending is just a thing that will happen.
Mexico beat Venezuela and Italy lost to Puerto Rico, ergo, Venezuela and Italy will play to determine the second team to advance from Pool D to Round 2. Pool play, everyone! There was some controversy overnight as to which teams would play the tiebreaker. In other shocking news, Israel was finally defeated. Their Pool A counterparts, the Netherlands, put a decisive end to the undefeated talk.
This first round is nearly over. We have a tiebreaker to play this evening, then everyone will head to Round 2 and the last round of pool play. Here are the results from last night and this morning:
Pool C Game 5: Dominican Republic 10, Colombia 3, 11 innings
A classic game. Just incredible. And then, we hit the eleventh inning and it was ruined. With two base runners greeting the first batter, Mel Rojas Jr, we were treated to the thrill of an extra innings…bunt. A walk to Gregory Polanco, a Welington Castillo RBI single, and the Dominican Republic kept pouring it on. By the time Colombia got to play with their two free base runners, the Dominican Republic had stolen their mojo.
Instead of dwelling on that, let’s look at a few highlights, of which there were many. Jean Segura finally got a start. He wasted no time showing he belonged with the stacked Dominican team. He singled the opposite way in his first at bat and later scored on a Jose Bautista sacrifice fly. He added a double in the seventh inning and a double in the eleventh inning to drive in three runs. His Mariners teammates were fairly quiet, letting him bask in the glory on his own.
This was an intense game and so many things I could cover. If you didn’t see it live, I highly recommend finding a way to watch.
Pool D Game 5: Puerto Rico 9, Italy 3
This game was largely overshadowed by the Dominican Republic-Colombia game, which didn’t wrap up until well into this game. Puerto Rico beat the erstwhile upstarts on Team Italy to advance to Round 2 and win the Pool D title on the strength of their 3-0 record.
The highlight of the game was Carlos Correa’s three run home run in the fourth inning to put Puerto Rico up 7-3:
Pool C Game 6: United States 8, Canada 0
Team USA decided to avoid playing a tiebreaker game and demolished geographic neighbor Team Canada. Ryan Dempster made his second start for Canada, and barely survived a third of an inning. I’ve always been a fan of his and it was tough to see it end that way. I was hoping he would throw a few good innings, leave the game, and then the United States could come back to win it. Alas.
For Canada, Tyler O’Neill had a rough outing, striking out three times. USA starter Danny Duffy pitched four excellent innings, allowing only two hits and striking out seven. Canada was only able to muster two the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Team USA tore it up with three doubles and two home runs including this Nolan Arenado blast:
Pool D Game 6: Mexico 11, Venezuela 9
Four hours, forty-four minutes. That’s how long it took Mexico and Venezuela to play nine innings last night. They were determined to not have the game decided by free base runners, so they simply didn’t let it escalate that far. Mexico, Venezuela, and Italy finished the first six games of pool play with 1-2 records. The tiebreaker is fewest runs allowed per defensive inning. Mexico allowed the most, so they are eliminated.
I’m not sure where to start with the highlights in this game. No Mariners made an appearance, so let’s take a look at Brandon Laird’s fifth inning home run that gave Mexico a pretty big lead:
Roberto Osuna wasn’t able to close Mexico’s game against Italy, but got some redemption last night when he got the final two outs.
Pool E Game 3: Netherlands 12, Israel 2
Israel has been the talk of the tournament. Entering as underdogs and remaining undefeated into Round 2, they have played better than expected, and better than some of the big-name teams. The Netherlands is a pretty great team themselves, and decided to grab a piece of the attention.
Didi Gregorious of the Netherlands is the story in this game. He doubled and homered with five RBI, making this his fifth straight WBC game with a hit. Team Netherlands was already up 7-0 in the fourth inning when he added a huge three-run home run to the totals:
Mariners in the WBC
Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic): 0-4, 1 run, 2 walks
Nelson Cruz (Dominican Republic): 1-4, 1 strikeout
Jean Segura (Dominican Republic): 3-6, 2 runs, 3 RBI, 2 strikeouts, stolen base
Tyler O’Neill (Canada): 0-4, 3 strikeouts
Yovani Gallardo (Mexico): Did not play
Sebastian Valle (Mexico): Did not play
Sam Gaviglio (Italy): Did not play
Pat Venditte (Italy): Did not play, also traded away from the Mariners
Drew Smyly (United States): Did not play, hearing he will start Team USA’s opening second round game
Edwin Diaz (Puerto Rico): Did not play
Emilio Pagan (Puerto Rico): Did not play
Felix Hernandez (Venezuela): Did not play
All times are PDT, all games are broadcast on MLB Network and MLB.tv.
Pool D Tiebreaker: Venezuela vs Italy, 6:00 PM
Pool C: Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, United States. Games take place in Miami, FL at Marlins Park March 9-13th. The Dominican Republic and the United States are advancing to Pool F.
Pool D: Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela. Games take place in Jalisco, Mexico at Estadio de Beisbol Charros de Jalisco March 9-13th.
Pool E: Cuba, Israel, Japan, Netherlands. Games take place in Tokyo, Japan at the Tokyo Dome March 12-16th.
Dominican Republic: With three current Mariners (Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Jean Segura) and two former Mariners (Adrian Beltre, Fernando Rodney) representing the Dominican Republic, they are obviously favorites to win it all. The Dominican roster would be a stellar team in MLB, so they should be enjoyable to watch.
Colombia: Making their WBC debut, Colombia is an underdog in Pool C. The stars of the team are pitchers Jose Quintana, coming off an All-Star year with the Chicago White Sox, and Julio Teheran, of the Atlanta Braves. Jorge Alfaro, Donovan Solano, Jhonatan Solano, and Giovanni Urshela have some Major League experience.
Italy: A few familiar names great us on Italy’s roster: current Mariner Pat Venditte and prospect Sam Gaviglio and former Mariner Alex Liddi. Italy knocked Mexico out of the tournament in 2013 to advance to Round 2. Italy tends to fare well in international play, so they could be a sleeper pick in Pool D.
Puerto Rico: Like Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico has some exciting talent on the roster. Also like Venezuela, the pitching is the question mark. Mariners closer Edwin Diaz and pitching prospect Emilio Pagan hope to help the rest of the staff advance the team to Round 2. The infield of young stars Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, and Carlos Correa join veterans like Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina. Puerto Rico played in the championship game last year. They may lack the pitching to get back.
Canada: The most exciting part of Team Canada is Tyler O’Neill getting some meaningful baseball experience. Current and former Major Leaguers representing our neighbors to the north include Freddie Freeman, Justin Morneau, Ryan Dempster, and Eric Gagne. Canada has a tough draw against the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and the United States, but it wouldn’t be a total surprise if they advance.
United States: Ah, the team that makes you wonder how good they would be if their country and players only cared about the WBC. This is a bit unfair because the players who are playing for Team USA are gushing and excited for the experience. The United States has never made it to the finals of the WBC, and while they certainly have the talent to advance, other countries have more oomph. The roster is made entirely of Major and Minor League players, including the Mariner’s own Drew Smyly, who will be making an appearance.
Venezuela: This is a good baseball team. It is fun to look at their roster in the same way it is fun to look at the Dominican Republic’s roster. Lots of good Major League players, and thinking about a team with all these good players is exciting. Our very own Felix Hernandez will be the ace for his home country. Former Mariner Omar Vizquel (taking over for another former Mariner, Luis Sojo) is managing the team. The question for Venezuela is how well their pitching will hold up.
Mexico: Yovani Gallardo and Sebastian Valle represent the Mariners on Team Mexico, along with former Mariner Vidal Nuno. Adrian Gonzalez will be joining the team to play for his brother and Mexico’s manager, Edgar. Yasiel Puig is not playing in the WBC. Rumor is he missed submitting paperwork on time. Playing in front of a home crowd, Mexico could reach the second round, but faces tough pool opponents to get there.
Netherlands: Some big names fill out the roster for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Andrelton Simmons, Xander Bogaerts, Jonathan Schoop, Didi Gregorius, and Jurickson Profar are the big Major Leaguers. It’s safe to say the Netherlands won’t have to worry about running out of short stops. Wladimir Balentien, the breaker of Sadaharu Oh’s Nippon Professional Baseball single-season home run record in 2013, will roam the outfield.
Israel: Making their WBC debut this year, the team is considered to be an underdog. Jason Marquis, a former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, is the biggest name. Former Major Leaguers Craig Breslow (in the Designated Pitcher Pool), Ike Davis, and Sam Fuld round out the roster, made up largely of Jewish Americans. They have a giant “Mensch on the Bench” mascot that hangs out in the dugout during games.
On Deck for Tomorrow:
Pool E Game 4: Cuba vs. Japan, 3:00 AM
Pool F Game 1: Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico, 6:00 PM
Pool E Game 5: Netherlands vs. Cuba, 8:00 PM