The top two teams in the Caribbean squared off Tuesday night for one of the four semifinal spots and the Dominican Republic suprisingly was able to outpitch the Venezuelans, as five pitchers combined to limit Venezuela to just one hit while striking out 11.
Daniel Cabrera started for the D.R. and struck out seven in four innings of work and allowed no hits. He left with a 1-0 lead after the Dominicans scored a run in the first on a single by Placido Polanco, a double by Miguel Tejada and a single by Moises Alou.
Nelson Liriano relieved in the fifth and walked Luis Rivera. After retiring Endy Chavez, Omar Vizquel picked up Venezuela's only hit, a double, that sent Rivera to third. Bobby Abreu scored Rivera on a ground out to tie the game.
The tie held up until the seventh. With one out, catcher Alberto Castillo singled and stole second. Polanco singled Castillo over to third. Miguel Tejada walked against Kelvim Escobar to load the bases. With a 2-0 count on Albert Pujols, Escobar's pitch bounced off of catcher Ramon Hernandez's glove and Castillo scored to make it 2-1.
Venezuela mounted one last rally in the ninth. With two outs, Duaner Sanchez walked Victor Martinez. Hernandez then reached on an error by Tejada. Sanchez walked Carlos Guillen to load the bases for Edgardo Alfonzo, who lofted a fly ball to right that Juan Encarnacion was able to put away to send the Dominican Republic team to the semifinals on Saturday in San Diego.
The D.R. will face the winner of Wednesday's game between Cuba and Puerto Rico in the early semifinal game (noon PT) Saturday.
Venezuela went 3-3 in the tournament and all of its wins were in shutouts. In six games, the Venezuelans batted .186 and had a team OPS of .653. Only China, Panama, and Australia had a lower offensive output during the WBC.
Two days after a controversial and disappointing 4-3 loss to the USA, Japan put itself in a position to move on to the semifinals with an easy win over a punchless Mexican team.
Japan put runners on base in the second and third innings against Mexican starter Esteban Loaiza, but couldn't bring them home. In the fourth, Japan got a leadoff single from Nobuhiko Matsunaka and Akinori Iwamura followed with a walk. Hitoshi Tamura laid down Japan's third sacrifice of the game to move the runners over and Michihiro "Guts" Ogasawara singled both runners home. Tomoya Satozaki followed with a home run to make it 4-0 Japan.
That would be all Japan would need with Daisuke Matsuzaka on the mound. Matsuzaka allowed just one hit through five innings. Mexico would score its only run on a home run by Miguel Olivo in the eighth off of Yasuhiko Yabuta.
Japan evened its record in second round play at 1-1, the same as the USA. Korea is 2-0 and Mexico is 0-2.
Japan will take on Korea Wednesday night. A win by Korea moves them on to the semifinals. A win by Japan may move them on to the semifinals provided the score doesn't get too out of hand. My best explanation of the tiebreakers can be found here.
Mexico is not completely out of it. If Korea were to beat Japan Wednesday and Mexico were to beat the USA on Thursday that would set up a three-way tie for the last spot among teams with a 1-2 record. But Mexico would likely need to play a low-scoring, extra inning game to have any chance of overcoming Japan's advantage in runs allowed.