World Baseball Classic Previews/Game Thread: 3/9

Now with fewer mistakes and less suck! (well, kinda). This'll be pretty short.

Today's Games:

Pool B:

Game 3 - 10:00 PM EDT - South Africa v. Mexico

This could be an interesting game, where, once again, pitching is weak.  Mexico is starting Elmer Dessens, a 38 year old who pitched a pretty good season for the Reds in 2002. South Africa is hitting the other end of the age spectrum for their starter, tabbing Justin Erasmus, a 19 year old in Boston's farm system. Mexico used 8 of its pitchers yesterday - although only Perez and Campos are unavailable, the winner of this game will have a day off tomorrow before playing the winner of Cuba v. Australia. Although Mexico's pitching looked pretty terrible yesterday, it's important to note that Australia's offense looked way better even in exhibition games than South Africa's - I think Mexico will avoid elimination here.

Pool C:

Game 4 - 6:30 PM EDT - Italy v. Canada

With both teams facing elimination, Canada will be pitching Vince Perkins (27 year old minor leaguer- currently with the Cubs) against Italy's Dan Serafini, who looked decent in one exhibition match. I think that Canada's offense is going to be too good for Italy, who did not score against Venezuela, but Canada's pitching is not as good, so we may see another high scoring game here. Canada has homefield advantage, but I'm not even sure we've seen that work out for teams so far. Canada, Japan, and Mexico have all lost important games in their home stadia. Perhaps Puerto Rico will stay perfect at Hiram Bithorne and be the example that proves the rule.

Pool D:

Game 4 - 6:30 PM EDT - Netherlands v. Puerto Rico

Ah,  can lightning strike twice? Of course, scientifically, yes, it can, but it seems unlikely here. (As unlikely as Netherlands beating DR?) It is important to note that although the Dutch had solid pitching against the DR, the Dominican bats had been cold in two of the exhibition games leading up to their opener. Not so for Puerto Rico who scored 7 against Panama on Saturday. The Dutch are starting Rick Vandenhurk, the Holland Hammer, who, admittedly, might be better than Sidney Ponson (but may have a more frigid gastrointestinal system). VandenHurk is young, and shows promise, but has had limited success in the major leagues with Florida, and although he pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings against the Reds in exhibition, didn't look all that great doing it, allowing three hits and two walks. Puerto Rico will go with Ian Snell, of the Pittsburgh Pirates, on the mound. I think either starter could dominate or get knocked around, but I still like Puerto Rico's offense over the Netherlands. PR's manager that Yadier Molina will be the starting catcher - and you'd imagine that means that Ivan Rodriguez will be DHing, considering the amazing day at the plate he had on Saturday. Of course, that would mean Geovany Soto sits. The winner automatically qualifies for Round 2, and the loser plays the DR.

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