Yesterday’s games were a real promotion for the World Baseball Classic. Exciting games in which the score went back and forth and the one of this morning with a perhaps unexpected outcome showed that this event is worth watching.
Venezuela 11 – 10 Italy
Yesterday, team Italy showed again that you cannot rule out the team. In an exciting game vs Venezuela, the team took a 5-0 lead. But Venezuela bounced back and took an 8-5 lead. But the score went back and forth as the balanced Italian team managed to tie the game at eight in the bottom of the eighth inning. Both teams refused to give up as both scored two runs in the ninth to make it 10-10. Eventually, in extra innings, Venezuela managed to take a decisive lead in the top of the tenth inning. Trey Nielsen replaced ambidextrous Pat Venditte and retired the first batter that he faced. But then Jose Altuve singled, followed by a double hit by Martin Prado that drove in speedy Jose Altuve for the one run lead. Manager Omar Vizquel then replaced Francisco Rodriguez with Jose Castillo on the mound and the latter did what he had to do, retiring the side. Despite blowing a save and allowing two unearned runs on three hits, Francisco Rodriguez earned the win. Best hitter for Venezuela was was Martin Prado, who went 5 f0r 5 with three RBI and a run scored. Both teams scored two runs on the long ball. Italy thanks to solo shots by Alex Liddi, who was the sole Italian born and raised player in the starting lineup, and Brandon Nimmo. Venezuela scored on Salvador Perez’ two run shot in the ninth inning. Perez bowled Rob Segedin off second base from his knees as Segedin ran with an ill-executed hit and run.
USA 5 – 7 Dominican Republic
Another exciting game was the one between the USA and the Dominican Republic. Marlins Park was sold out, but the American fans were outnumbered by the Dominicans. The USA took a 3-0 and later a 5-0 lead as it looked like the Dominicans would lose their unbeaten status since 2013. But a disastrous eighth inning turned the tables. After the US team had taken a 5-0 lead in the top of the sixth inning, the Dominican Republic inched closed in the bottom of that inning, as they scored two runs. Another run in the bottom of the seventh brought them back into the game. In the bottom of the eighth, manager Jim Leyland sent Andrew Miller to the mound. Normally a reliable force on the mound, Miller faltered big time. Miller started to hit Jose Bautista with a pitch, then gave up a single to Carlos Santana. With two strikes, Nelson Cruz homered to left field.
If that wasn’t enough, Starlin Marte used the long ball to add an insurance run to the Dominicans’ score.
Jeurys Familia then earned the save by shutting the door for the Americans in the ninth as he retired the side.
Alex Colome earned the win. In the eighth frame, he kept the USA scoreless and gave up one walk.
Best hitter for the Dominican Republic was the new center fielder of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Starlin Marte. He went 3 for 4 with an RBI. it is clear that Nelson Cruz had the most impact with his sole hit out of three at bats.
The MLB owners my repeat that the US players don’t care about the WBC only to prevent them from participating, but they cannot deny that those who do participate aren’t excited. Despite the outcome, this game and the one between Venezuela and Italy were a real promotion for the World Baseball Classic.
Israel 4 – 1 Cuba
In the game vs Cuba, Israel killed baseball tradition (I borrowed this from one of my Facebook friends). The players representing Israel did not really care about the reputation that Cuban baseball still has.
For four innings, the Cubans hoped for a favourable outcome but in the sixth inning, Israel took a bold lead as they scored two runs. With runners on first and second, Zach Borenstein singled home the go-ahead run and two at bats later, Blake Gailen doubled to right field and drove in Nate Freiman.
Two innings later, Israel sealed the fate of Cuba when Blake Gailen nicely executed a sacrifice bunt towards second baseman Yordan Manduley to drive in Zach Borenstein.
Josh Zeid did what he had done a couple of times before: keeping his opponents from coming back as he retired the side in the ninth for his second save of the tournament.
After Jason Marquis pitched 5.2 fine innings, Zack Thornton earned the win after pitching 1.1 scoreless inning.
Best hitter for Israel was Ryan Lavarnway who went 2 for 4 but Blake Gailen had the most impact with two RBI.
Mexico is eliminated after its loss vs Puerto Rico. The unincorporated territory of the United States beat the host country 9-4.
The game was still exciting at the start of the ninth inning as the Puerto Ricans led by one run but a grand slam homerun by Javier Baez in the ninth ended all ambitions of the Mexicans. Puerto Rico remains unbeaten while Mexico must win their last game vs Colombia to avoid being sentenced to play a qualifier again for the (eventual) next WBC in 2021.