One team is unexpectedly on the verge of elimination and an underdog is on the verge of advancing. It’s only the second day of the World Baseball Classic!
Pool play continues. Four teams are in each pool and each pool will play a six game round robin, with a seventh game tie breaker if necessary. The top two teams in each pool will advance to the next round. Here are the results from the late game yesterday and the early games today:
Pool A Game 2: Israel 15, Chinese Taipei 7
After playing ten innings the day before, Team Israel came out ready to drive in runs. Little League World Series powerhouse Chinese Taipei clawed their way back into the game after cutting the lead to 6-3 in the sixth inning. However, Israel decided to put the game further out of reach with a five-run seventh. Israel will win the pool with a win over the Netherlands tomorrow.
Pool A Game 3: Netherlands 5, Korea 0
Korea is on the verge of elimination and unlikely to advance after opening the WBC with two losses. One of the favorites coming into the tournament, they have been unable to fire up the offense. Dae-ho Lee had an early single, but otherwise the Korean sluggers were stymied once again. The Netherlands had a big showing from their big leaguers. Jurickson Profar got the game going with this two-run home run:
Randolph Obuder also hit a two-run home run and Andrelton Simmons drove in the fifth run for a decisive win. A second Netherlands win will eliminate Korea.
Pool B Game 1: Japan 11, Cuba 6
What’s not to love about this match up? Two traditionally high-powered baseball countries, with only one American Major Leaguer between them. Japan came out on top in front of a home crowd, but there were several great moments for both teams.
Former Mariner Norichika Aoki scored the first run for Samurai Japan. Yoenis’ younger brother Yoelkis Cespedes doubled and scored Cuba’s first run. Japan broke the game open with a five-run fifth inning, including this three-run home run from Nobuhiro Matsuda:
Matsuda had considered playing in MLB, but opted to stay in Japan. He went 4 for 5 and drove in this game leading a few MLB teams perhaps to imagine what might have been.
All times are PST, all games are broadcast on MLB Network and/or MLB.tv.
Pool B Game 2: China vs. Cuba 7:00 PM
Pool A: Chinese Taipei, Israel, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Korea. Games take place in Seoul, Korea at the Gocheok Sky Dome March 6-10th.
Pool B: Australia, China, Cuba, and Japan. Games take place in Tokyo, Japan at the Tokyo Dome March 7-11th.
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.
Chinese Taipei: This is a young team that includes prospects Shao-Ching Chiang, Ping-Hsueh Chen (DPP), Che-Hsuan Lin, and Chin-Lung Hu. Former Mariners prospect Chih-Hsien Chiang (part of the Erik Bedard trade) is also on the roster. Major League veteran Chien-Ming Wang is in the designated pitcher pool for the second round. Current Major Leaguer Wei-Yin Chen of the Marlins is not participating.
Korea: Our favorite, Dae-ho Lee, is on the team. The only current Major Leaguer is Seung-hwan Oh. The rest of the roster is full of professional Korean Baseball Organization players, including Hyung-woo Choi, the reig-ning KBO batting and RBI champion. I’m hoping to see some great bat flips.
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.
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).
China: Team China hasn’t had much success in the WBC, but unlike neighbor Japan there doesn’t seem to be much public pressure. The only player with any Major League experience on the roster is Bruce Chen, who came out of retirement to pitch for China after previously pitching for the Panamanian national team. Former Mariners manager John McLaren will manage China for the second time in the WBC.
Drew Smyly: After two strong spring starts, Smyly was called up from his Designated Pitcher Pool role to start either a Game 7 tie-breaker, or a Second Round game for Team USA.
Mariners in the WBC
No Mariners are in action today, but look for them later this week:
Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Jean Segura (Dominican Republic): March 9th vs. Canada
Tyler O’Neill (Canada): March 9th vs. Dominican Republic
Yovani Gallardo, Sebastian Valle (Mexico): March 9th vs. Italy
Sam Gaviglio, Pat Venditte (Italy): March 9th vs. Mexico
Drew Smyly (United States): March 10th vs. Columbia
Edwin Diaz, Emilio Pagan (Puerto Rico): March 10th vs. Venezuela
Felix Hernandez (Venezuela): March 10th vs. Puerto Rico
On Deck for Tomorrow:
Pool A Game 4: Chinese Taipei vs. Netherlands, 1:30 AM
Pool B Game 3: Japan vs. Australia, 2:00 AM
Pool A Game 5: Netherlands vs. Israel, 7:00 PM