Japan and the Netherlands advance to the semi-finals. Only two undefeated teams, Japan and Puerto Rico, remain in the tournament. Tonight features an exciting game for those of us in Marinerland. The World Baseball Classic continues!
Felix Hernandez will start for Team Venezuela tonight against Drew Smyly and Team USA. Mariner a Mariner. The game will start at 6:00 PM on MLB Network. We’ll either watch two members of our rotation give us World Series dreams, or we’ll fret over velocity, location, or command. Either way it ought to be a good time!
Lookout Landing’s own Isabelle Minasian and John Trupin are in San Diego for the World Baseball Classic. Check back later for special inside information on the WBC that you’ll only find here.
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 F Game 1: Puerto Rico 3, Dominican Republic 1
The Dominican Republic had an eleven game WBC winning streak coming in to this game. They do not have a winning streak any more. Puerto Rico extracted a bit of revenge for their title game loss to the Dominican Republic in 2013 on the strength of their pitching staff. Mariner closer Edwin Diaz got the save. The sole Dominican run came on Nelson Cruz’s second inning home run.
Yadier Molina had a fantastic game for Puerto Rico, hitting a home run and RBI single in the game. He also showed off his defensive chops, tagging out our own Jean Seguera at the plate on Eddie Rosarios awesome throw:
Pool E Game 5: Netherlands 14, Cuba 1, 7 innings
It’s safe to say the Netherlands has a good baseball team. A day after handing Team Israel their first loss, they came back and decisively knocked Cuba out of the tournament. The game was ended after seven inning thanks to the mercy rule. Former Mariner Wladimir Balentien provided much of the offensive power with his two home runs and five RBI. He was been successful playing baseball in Japan, breaking Sadahara Oh’s single season home run record, and his comfort is evident.
Here’s his first inning home run. Just a nice easy swing and a fly ball goes for a home run. It should be so easy for all of us:
Pool E Game 6: Japan 8, Israel 3
Round 1’s upstart, Team Israel has suffered two consecutive losses and won only a trip home. Japan clinched the Pool E title with this win and are headed to Los Angeles for the semi-finals. In the sixth inning Japan worked four Team Israel pitchers for four insurance runs. Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh continued his hot hitting, including this home run to put Japan on the board:
Japan has reached the semis in each of the WBCs. They are looking to avenge a loss in that round to Puerto Rico last time and bring the championship back home to Japan.
Mariners in the WBC:
Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic): 1-2, 2 walks
Nelson Cruz (Dominican Republic): 1-3, 1 walk, home run
Jean Segura (Dominican Republic): 1-5, 2 strikeouts
Edwin Diaz (Puerto Rico): 1.1 innings pitched, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, save
Emilio Pagan (Puerto Rico): Did not play
All times are PDT, all games are broadcast on MLB Network and MLB.tv.
Pool F Game 2: Venezuela vs. United States, 6:00 PM
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Venezuela vs. Dominican Republic, 7:00 PM