Live from Angel Stadium! ESPN says this game will be shown live in certain markets. Southern California doesn't appear to be one of them. There will be a delayed broadcast on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, but at different times. Check your local listings.
Monday's play concludes with a battle between the two unbeatens in the Anaheim Regional. And one of the is undefeated in four games. And much to everyone's surprise, it's not Team USA. It's Korea.
Korea has rode the hot bat of Seung-Yeop Lee, aka "The Lion King", aka "The People's Slugger" (see here). Korean pitchers have held their first four opponents: Taiwan, China, Japan, and Mexico to just a 1.00 ERA. But the hitters have the second lowest OPS of the eight remaining teams starting play today. All four home runs from Korea have been off the bat Seung-Yeop Lee and the last two have been game-winners. The Korean team has five players named Lee.
Team USA has a Lee of its own in Derrek Lee and he's been no slouch in the WBC either. He's hit three home runs and driven in eight. Of players who have appeared in all four games, Ken Griffey leads the team in OPS at 2.333, with the bulk of his production coming against South Africa.
Team USA needed the help of a questionable call on a potential sacrifice fly by umpire Bob Davidson to get past Japan Sunday 4-3 on a 9th inning single by Alex Rodriguez. The Americans were supposed to be rolling through the WBC with little worries, but the team has given its fans a lot of gray hairs.
Tonight's starter for Team USA, Dontrelle Willis, was awful against Canada in his team's 8-6 loss. He got knocked out early and that forced manager Buck Martinez to turn to Al Leiter in relief, who managed to be worse in a shorter period of time.
If Willis is sharp tonight and can contain "The People's Slugger" Lee (who is a lefty), then Korea may have a hard time getting any runs. Korean manager In Sik Kim is starting Min-Han Son (a pitcher who wears #1). Son pitches for the Lotte Giants in Korea. (Not to be confused with the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan.) Son won his first start, but it was against China. He may find the bats of the United States a bit formidable.
A win for Team USA would be huge for them because it would put them in a position to possibly dictate their semifinal opponent in its final game against Mexico Thursday since it would know exactly what it has to do. Korea likely is not expecting much from this game and will be saving its big guns for its rematch against Japan Wednesday. Korea is banking on a 2-1 record getting them to the semifinal.
Barring ties, the teams have to finish in one of four patterns:
3-0, 2-1, 1-2, 0-3
2-1, 2-1, 2-1, 0-3
3-0, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2
2-1, 2-1, 1-2, 1-2
FINAL SCORE Korea 7, USA 3
WP -- Min-Han Son (2-0)
LP -- Dontrelle Willis (0-2)
HRs -- Seong-Yeop Lee (his 5th), Hee-Seop Choi (his 1st), Ken Griffey (his 3rd)
Willis has second straight bad outing. Lee hits his tournament-leading 5th homer and Choi adds a 3-run pinch homer in the 4th. The USA gets 15 runners on base and score just three times.
Korea is now 5-0 in the tournament and 2-0 in the Anaheim Regional. The USA is 1-1.
So ... if Mexico beats Japan Tuesday, Korea moves on to the semifinals. If Japan wins, there could be a scenario where the US-Mexico could have nothing at stake.