World Baseball Classic Recap and Game Thread, 3/11

The Dutch beat the Dominicans. I tried to think of something pithy and pun-tastic about the Netherlands to say here, but clearly that wasn't going to happen.



A depitction of the team from the Netherlands after their stunning, late-inning victory.


Yesterday's games:

Pool B: Cuba 5 Australia 4

A good, close game right up until the very end, but Peraza sealed the deal for Cuba, and guaranteed them advancement to round 2 with a two run homer in the 8th. Cuba's starter, a young Albertin Chapman, had a good start, allowing only 1 run in his 4 innings while striking out 7. Yoennis Cespedes had another good day at the plate for Cuba, hitting a double and a home run. Unfortunately, Australia just didn't have enough to overcome one of the best teams at the classic, but I really like their chances rematched against Mexico today.

Pool C: Venezuela 10 Italy 1

Italy just didn't have the hits today - and Venzuela did. Managing only six hits in nine innings of play, Italy's fate was sealed in Venezuela's 5 run ninth, which bumped the score to 9-0, based on 4 HRs in that innings (Bobby Abreu, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Lopez, Ramon Hernandez). After Enrique Gonzalez's solid start, Ramon Ramirez made an appearance on the mound, pitching a couple nice innings before getting in trouble and allowing Italy's lone run in the seventh. Italy is eliminated, and Venezuela rematches with the US for Round 2 seeding today.

Pool D: Netherlands 2 Dominican Republic 1 F/11

In addition to getting our pitchers back, I'm actually kind of stoked about the Netherlands going to Round 2. I'm always a little nervous about joining underdog bandwagons, especially when it's white-ish type people against those with darker skin tones, but, hey, half of the Netherlands team is actually from, so that's still a weird scene. But it's a little bit loveable that no matter how many times I predict that the Dutch will suck, they never quite do. As for this upset, I thought that it was a sad ending for Ubaldo Jimenez who probably put up one of best starts of the classic so far, allowing 2 hits and no runs in 4 innnings while striking out 10 (with 2 perfect innings). Pedro Martinez also had a hitless, three inning effort, but it was Carlos Marmol who blew the save (although it was Willy Aybar's error that scored the two runs) for the Dominicans in the 11th. Man. 11 innings and only one earned run. Crazy.


Today's games:

Pool B: 10:00 PM ET - Mexico v. Australia

I'm going to be not-so-crazy and predict Australia to win here. Mexico's pitching hasn't gotten any better since Sunday, and even if they score 14 runs again, I think Australia can score more. Oliver Perez and Elmer Dessens are both unavailable to pitch. However, Australia's mighty bats were mighty quiet against Cuba yesterday, so we may be seeing the end of a lucky streak. Also, Mexico's Alfredo Amezega hurt his knee and went to Florida to see the Marlins' doctors on Tuesday.

Pool C: 5:30 PM ET - USA v. Venezuela

In this rematch, the US is starting with Ted Lilly on the mound, who will be followed by Jeremy Guthrie. Venezuela, in what might be described as an odd turn of events. has opted for Victor Zambrano as its starting pitcher, (who gave up four runs in the previous game against the US), citing his big league experience. Only Gonzalez, Ramirez, and Galarraga will be unavailable out of the pen. (I think). I'm not sure how motivated each team will be at this point, since it's just standings now, but I do think that the USA will win again here.

Pool D: 6:00 PM ET - Netherlands v. Puerto Rico

Another rematch for seeding purposes, the last match between these two teams was very close, and this one could be as well. In its third game, Puerto Rico is expected to start a third catcher, with Geovany Soto starting in that position. At pitcher, PR is starting Jonathan Sanchez, who got 160 innings in San Francisco last season and wasn't terribly good, although he can clearly strike dudes out. The Dutch coach, when interviewed last night, hadn't decided on a starter, and joked about asking Bert Blyleven to step in. He may be joking, but I think that would be the Netherlands best bet, and hella awesome, to boot.

Parting note: Pool A's qualifiers, Japan and Korea, have arrived in the states, and are preparing for Round 2 with a couple exhibition games against the Giants and Padres respectively.

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