Sorry about missing yesterday - been on the road. Yesterday marked the opening games of round 2. A few notes:
- It's still double elimination.
- Pitch limits are now at 85.
- Pool 1: Japan, Korea, Mexico, Cuba
- Pool 2: USA, Venezuela, Netherlands, Puerto Rico
Game summaries and discussion after the break.
Pool 2: Game 1 - Venezuela 3 Netherlands 1
Carlos Silva started for the Venezuelans and had a great game, pitching a full 7 innings, striking out 4, and allowing only one run - the only run the Netherlands would score. Indeed, Dutch pitching didn't look too bad either - Ponson allowed only two runs in his five innings, but that alone would've won it for Venezuela. Miguel Cabrera and Jose Lopez each hit solo home runs.
Pool 2: Game 2 - Puerto Rico 11 USA 1 F/7
The Puerto Rican offense got started early, chasing Peavy in 2 innings and scoring six runs on him. Other US pitchers fared ok, but Matt Thornton allowed the killing blow in the seventh, allowing four runs. Ivan Rodriguez, Felipe Lopez, and Carlos Beltran all had great days at the plate, but the Puerto Ricans in general looked better on offense than the US lineup, without injured 2008 AL MVP Dustin Pedroia. 5 out of the US's starting nine didn't get a hit. Adam Dunn and Brian McCann looked the best out of all the rest, each going 2-3 with a double (Dunn scored the USA's only run, McCann batted it in.)
Pool 1: Game 1 - 4:00 PM ET - Japan v. Cuba
This game is a rematch of the 2006 title game, and like in that game, Daisuke Matsuzaka will be pitching for the Japanese. I can't find the Cuban starter, but if Matsuzaka comes up big like he did in 2006, the Japanese will have much less to worry about. These are two strong teams that definitely have a chance to make it out of this Pool, and it will be a pretty exciting game.
Pool 1: Game 2 - 11:00 PM ET - Mexico v. Korea
Mexico is starting Oliver Perez, who started Mexico's first WBC game against Australia and was not impressive. Korea's starter will be Yoon Suk-Min, who pitched six shutout innnings in Korea's elimination game against China in Pool A. Of course, Australia's offense was much better than China's, and Oliver Perez's major league record speaks well for him. Playing in PETCO may also serve as a kind of advantage, since Adrian Gonzalez and Scott Hairston are used to that field as home. Korea didn't look fantastic in its two recent exhibition games, but I'm pretty sure they didn't really care. I think Korea's got a chance to shut down the Mexican squad, but if their pitching doesn't keep the score low, I don't see them putting up enough runs.
Pool 2: Game 3 - 7:30 PM ET - Netherlands v. US
Both teams here are facing elimination. The US, generally predicted to do well, are looking at another Round 2 exit, which would, no doubt, be just as embarrassing as in 2006, while the Netherlands is the Cinderella, and probably never expected to make it as far as Round 2. But anyway, I think Rick VandenHurk and Roy Oswalt will be pitching today. The one thing the Netherlands has yet to do this tournament is put up a lot of runs, and I'm guessing today will be no different. It doesn't seem likely that Dutch pitching will stifle the still very able US lineup, but they've accomplished similar feats, so it's hard to say.