World Baseball Classic Roundup: 3/06


Pool A:



Game 2 – South Korea 9 Chinese Taipei 0

Well, South Korea came out swinging, scoring 6 runs on Taiwan's starter Lee Chen-Chang, who walked, hit, and walked the first three batters he saw - then gave up a grand slam to right fielder Lee Jin-Young . Jeong Keon-woo also hit a solo home run. Lee Dae-Ho, and Kim Tae-Kyun also had good games, each going 2-4 with a double. Ryu Hyun-jin looked perhaps a bit shaky, but was strong overall – allowing no hits, striking out three, but walking two, before giving up a single in the fourth and being replaced by former Red Bong Jong-Keun. After Lee Chen's inauspicious start, the Taiwanese pitching wasn't bad. Redsox prospect Lin Che-Hsuan had a decent game, hitting two singles, walking, getting picked off, and gunned down Kyung Oan-Park at second in the first inning, which helped stop the bleeding for Taiwan.


Exhibition scores and game previews after the court.

Exhibition Games:


Mexico 2 Arizona 4

Mexico's offense did not look like it had in previous games – Scott Hairston, for instance, went 0-3. (well, we all knew he couldn't hit like that forever). Jorge Cantu was 1-1 with a solo homer. Rodrigo Lopez (last seen with the Rockies in 2007) started the game off pretty well, striking out 4 in his three innings, while only allowing 2 hits.

Australia 3 White Sox 10

Well, Australia doesn't need to tell me that this isn't good. They brought in 9 pitchers, and most of them managed to give up at least a run. Twins prospect Luke Hughes continues to be a bright spot in the offense – today he went 2-3 and swatted a triple.


Game Preview:


Pool A:

Today – 10:30 PM EST Game 3 – Chinese Taipei v. China

Not a very important game to baseball – but it certainly matters to these two countries, who are not overly fond of each other, neither team has yet to score a run in the classic and are both facing elimination. A little off-topic – but I don't like the double elimination format so much. I realize that the round-robin tie-breaker of RA/9 was not optimal– but wouldn't calculating the pythag win% be a pretty fair way of breaking those ties? Anyway. I think it's pretty clear that Taiwan has the superior baseball program – but China won when they met in Beijing. I'll still take Chinese Taipei here – I think they have more reliable offense, and China won't have the home field advantage like they did in the 2008 Olympics, but I'd guess that the short 15 hours that Chinese Taipei has had since the game with Korea won't be helping them. Lu Jiangang will start for the Chinese (I mentioned him in my Game 1 preview – I was just wrong about which game he was starting), while Taipei will call on Lin Yueh-Ping, who, has the best velocity on the Taiwanese, and has been clocked at 96 mph. (He currently plays for the 7-Eleven Uni-President Lions.)

Tomorrow – 5:00 AM EST Game 4 – Japan v. Korea

As winners in their previous games, these two countries have far less pressure on them, and certainly their relationship is not quite as tense China and Taiwan's. And to be frank, both these teams are probably going on to Round 2 – but they'd certainly both like to win here. Daisuke Matsuzaka (Japan) and Kim Kwang-Hyun will be starting. I talked about Kim in the Pool A preview, and how he pitched very well in the Olympics – he's also 20. So if anyone is keeping track, the combined age of Korea's starters so far will still be younger than Jamie Moyer (et. al.) I shy away from making any prediction here. Korea's offense looked good this morning, but Japan's pitching won't be giving out free passes like Taiwan's. I'm guessing on a low scoring game that's won by Japan with large amounts of havoc, and a little help from the home field advantage.


Pool C:


2:00 PM EST Game 1 – Canada v. United States

Probably the most interesting of the Game 1's, but I'm pretty confident calling this for the US. Canada did win in their last WBC meeting, but on the other hand, Dontrelle Willis won't be pitching tomorrow - I feel strongly in saying that Peavy is less likely to make this easy on the Canadian team. Plus, there is really nothing that will convince me that Canada's pitching is not borderline hopeless. You know, except them pitching well. Mike Johnson, who currently pitches in Korea, will be starting for Canada. Davey Johnson has recently said that he will alternate games between starting Derek Jeter and Jimmy Rollins at short. I'm sort of skeptical about this approach, with my opinion of Jeter's defense, but Chipper Jones is the projected DH, and Jeter's the proclaimed captain of 'Team America', so there's not a whole lot of options. I'd also like to point you to these amazing quotes from Tommy Lasorda about how not rooting for the US in the WBC will keep you from getting into heaven. 


8:00 PM EST Game 2 – Italy v. Venezuela

Not a very exciting game. Italy got kind of a rough deal in this pool. Venezuela is starting Mariners ace/gigantic infant Felix Hernandez (or Carlos Silva, depending on the source). And evidently no one has bothered to ask who Italy is starting, because I honestly googled for a whole three minutes and couldn't find it. I'd say Italy is not going win this game. I would imagine that any pitcher Italy throws up there, Venezuela is going to tee off of him. I predict at least three home runs.


Pool D:


11:00 AM EST Game 1 – Netherlands v. Dominican Republic

Once again, not too much of a fight here. Netherlands Sidney Ponson, sir-or-not, maintains he has “a fire in his belly,” which is ridiculous, because everyone and Orel Hershisher knows that you see it in the eyes, which are the window to the soul, not the stomach. Edinson will be starting for the Dominicans. Hopefully, the DR will take an early lead and Edinson can come out quickly. It is true that the DR hasn't been showing a lot of offensive promise in its exhibition games, but there's so much talent on that team, I can't believe that they'll fail here.


5:00 PM EST Game 2 – Panama v. Puerto Rico

The match up here is Bruce Chen against Javier Vasquez. Puerto Rico should be the easy winner of this game. These teams also met first in the first round of the 2006 Classic, where Puerto Rico won 2-1. Chen, who is coming back from Tommy John, didn't have such a good outing in the exhibition games, so I don't know if I would even predict Panama to do that well again.

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