A walk off win propels two teams from Pool A into Round 2. Pool B is going as expected. It will be a busy day tomorrow as Pools C and D get underway and get our first look at current Mariners in the World Baseball Classic.
The dark gray road uniforms are a thing in the WBC. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about them. They don’t have great visibility on television, but they do fit the mood of the domes in Korea and Tokyo. I caught a little bit of Team Canada’s exhibition game and the dark gray feels out of place in the bright sunshine. Everyone loves a good uniform take, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
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 B Game 2: Cuba 6, China 0
Cuba recovered from yesterday’s loss to Japan with a decisive victory over China. Bladimir Banos threw 5 scoreless innings for Cuba, which is quite the feat with the strict pitch count limits (if you’ve watched any of the games, you probably cringe when you hear “pitch count”). Former Major League veteran Bruce Chen threw three solid innings for China, allowing no runs. The Cuban offense got to his replacement for four runs in the fourth inning. Yoelkis Cespedes drove in the first run with a long opposite field single, then relaxed with a refreshing beverage:
Pool A Game 4: Netherlands 6, Chinese Taipei 5
The Netherlands advanced to Round 2 and brought Israel with them, with a classic walk off bases-loaded walk. Jurickson Profar almost drove in the winning run with a hit, but it was called back due to time being called prior to the pitch. Since they wouldn’t let him hit, he took the walk.
Didi Gregarious, starting at designated hitter, drove in or scored all of the Netherland’s first five runs on three doubles.
Chinese Taipei had their own theatrics in the fifth inning when Chih-Hao Chang hit a huge two-run home run to tie the score.
Pool B Game 3: Japan 4, Australia 1
Japan secured a second win and is close to securing a trip to Round 2. Australia hung in there against a Japan team coming off an 11 run win. Australia jumped to an early lead on catcher Allan de San Miguel’s second inning home run, which Japan answered with a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning. The game remained tied at 1 until Sho Nakata did this in the seventh inning:
Ryan Rowland-Smith finished the game for Australia, striking out the only batter he faced.
All times are PST, all games are broadcast on MLB Network and/or MLB.tv.
Pool A Game 5: Netherlands vs. Israel, 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. Israel and the Netherlands have advanced to the second round, and play each other tonight to determine the pool champion.
Pool B: Australia, China, Cuba, and Japan. Games take place in Tokyo, Japan at the Tokyo Dome March 7-11th. Japan leads the standings with two wins, followed by one win Cuba.
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.
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 Panamanian national team. Former Mariners manager John McLaren will manage China for the second time in the WBC.
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.
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.
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).
Australia: The big news on Team Australia is our very own and most favorite, Ryan Rowland-Smith! If you’re not excited to see Hyphen pitch again, the WBC may not be for you (However, to each their own. I’m not here to judge). Former Mariner Travis Blackley is also on the pitching roster. Sadly, the other Australian from Blackley’s time with the Mariners, Chris Snelling aka Doyle, is not on the roster. The team has some major league talent, but are up against tough Japanese and Cuban teams in their pool.
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. The will secure their advancement to Round 2 with a win tonight.
Tyler O’Neill: Team Canada played an exhibition game against the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday. It was a bit of a rough day for the Mariner’s prospect. He went 0 for 3, striking out three times and walking once.
Mariners in the WBC
No Mariners are in action today, but look for them starting tomorrow:
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 6: Korea vs. Chinese Taipei, 1:30 AM
Pool B Game 4: Australia vs. China, 2:00 AM
Pool C Game 1: Canada vs. Dominican Republic, 3:00 PM
Pool D Game 1: Mexico vs. Italy, 6:00 PM
Pool B Game 5: Australia vs. Cuba, 7:00 PM