The first round is officially in the World Baseball Classic books! Venezuela moves on to Pool F while Japan has just about advanced to Round 3.
The second and final round of pool play continues. Four teams are in each pool. Each pool plays six games, with a seventh game tie breaker if needed. The top two teams will advance to the semi-finals. Here are the results from yesterday and early this morning:
Pool D Tiebreaker: Venezuela 4, Italy 3
Venezuela has had a rough time of it, but keeps finding a way to hang in there. They will be heading to Round 2 and Italy will be heading home. It seemed like Italy would pull off the win. Headed into the ninth inning down 2-1, Venezuela rallied for three runs and held on to beat the Italians and claim their spot in Round 2. Miguel Cabrera hit a solo shot to tie it up in the top of the ninth:
Later in the inning Rougned Odor drove in Victor Martinez, then scored himself on an Alcides Escobar suicide squeeze. Former Mariner Alex Liddi hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth, but that was all the Italians could muster.
Pool E Game 4: Japan 8, Cuba 5
Japan remains undefeated through five games. Playing in front of enthusiastic home crowds in Tokyo may have helped them out, but Samurai Japan is a great team and I’m already excited to see them in action against the powerhouses we’ve seen play during daylight hours here in the US. They haven’t clinched a spot in the semi-finals yet, but can with a win over Israel on Wednesday morning.
Tetsuto Yamada scored four runs in this game, with two home runs. I get a kick out of his leg kick:
Yoelkis Cespedes did not play. He is not expected to start Cuba’s game on Wednesday either due to a bit of a slump. His replacement, Victor Mesa, game Cuba the lead in the fourth inning with a two out two run single.
Mariners in the WBC:
Sam Gaviglio (Italy): Did not play
Felix Hernandez (Venezuela): Did not play
All times are PDT, all games are broadcast on MLB Network and MLB.tv.
Pool F Game 1: Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico, 6:00 PM
Pool E Game 5: Netherlands vs. Cuba, 8:00 PM
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.
Pool F: Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, United States, Venezuela. Games take place in San Diego, CA at Petco Park March 14-19th.
Italy: A few familiar names great us on Italy’s roster: Former Mariner Pat Venditte and current 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.
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.
Cuba: No Major Leaguers will be on the Cuban roster because players who have defected are not eligible. The one name that will ring a bell with an American audience is Yoelkis Cespedes. Yes, he is related to that other Cespedes. Only 19 years old, he has drawn comparisons to his brother. It’ll be fun to see him flash some of the same talent.
Japan: Winners of the first two World Baseball Classics, they were eliminated in the semi-finals in 2013. The team called Samurai Japan is under pressure from a population of baseball fanatics in Japan to avenge that loss. The only Major Leaguer on their roster is Nori Aoki. Throwing seven (!) different pitches, the ace of the team is Tomoyaki Sugano from the Yomimuri Giants. Tetstuto Yamada of the Yakult Swallows recorded a Triple Three (.300 batting average, 30 home runs, and 30 stolen bases) in 2015 while leading the league in home runs (38) and stolen bases (34).
On Deck for Tomorrow:
Pool E Game 6: Israel vs. Japan, 3:00 AM
Pool F Game 2: Venezuela vs. United States, 6:00 PM