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Wednesday in the WBC
2006-03-09 07:00
by Bob Timmermann

    Pool B
  • You can take what you thought about Pool B, which was supposed to be the USA victory tour, and throw all of that into a cocked hat. (WBC cocked hats are for sale for $29.95. They don't come sized though.)

    Canada 8, United States 6 Play started with the US, fresh off a 2-0 shutout over Mexico, taking on Canada, which trailed South Africa in the ninth inning Tuesday before winning 11-8. The US was sending out Dontrelle Willis, while Canada was countering with Adam Loewen. Yes, that Adam Loewen.

    But the game went bad right from the outset for the US, when Stubby Clapp tripled two batters into the game. Jason Bay followed with a walk and Clapp came home on a groundout by Justin Morneau. The US threatened in the bottom of the first, loading the bases with one out for Chipper Jones, but Loewen induced a double play to get out the jam.

    Then the Canadians kept up the pressure, scoring again in the second on back-to-back triples by Aaron Guiel and Adam Stern. And in the third, the Canadians added three more runs on an RBI single by Pete LaForest and a 2-run RBI by Stern off of Al Leiter. Matt Stairs singled in two more in the fourth and Stern hit an inside-the-park home run to left off of Gary Majewski to make it 8-0 Canada.

    The US mounted a comeback in the bottom half of the inning, scoring six times off of Chris Begg and Eric Cyr, capped off by a grand slam from Jason Varitek and it looked like the US was going to put their socialized medicine-loving neighbors to the north in their place.

    But just as quickly as the US offense appeared, it disappeared again. Cyr didn't allow a hit after Varitek's homer and Scott Mathieson and Steve Green (aka, the guy put on the disabled list by the Angels in 2002 to make Francisco Rodriguez eligible for the playoffs) shut down the US. Utley thought he had hit a 3-run homer in the 8th, but Stern was able to track down the drive in the deepest part of Chase Field and Canada was a surprising 2-0 and the US was a shocking 1-1.

    Mexico 10, South Africa 4

    One night after scaring the bejeezus (WBC bejeezus is available through for $17.50) out of Canada, South Africa gave Mexico little trouble. Mexico ran out to a 5-0 lead after three innings, then saw South Africa score three times in the fourth, but Mexico bounced back with three runs in the fifth and single runs in the sixth and seventh, including a home run by Jorge Cantu.

    After allowing eight wild pitches and a passed ball, South Africa moved catcher Willem Kemp to DH and used 17-year old Kyle Botha at catcher. It must have helped as South Africa had just one wild pitch.

    Mexico's win sets up a showdown Thursday for one of the spots in Pool B. The winner of the Mexico-Canada game in Phoenix gets a spot in the second round. Canada can advance with a loss if it allows just one or two runs in the game (for example a 2-1 or 1-0 loss). If Canada loses and allows Mexico scores three or more runs then Canada will have to hope that South Africa beats the US Friday in Scottsdale.

    South Africa's close call against Canada Tuesday got some press.

  • Pool C
  • This pool C saw two teams make their first appearance, Cuba and the Netherlands.

    Cuba 8, Panama 6, 11 innings

    Cuba made its WBC debut in San Juan and second baseman Yulieski Gourriel was the star, going 3 for 4 with a home run and making a sensational play in the field. He also had four RBI.

    The seesaw affair turned in Panama's favor when Ruben Rivera blasted a 3-run homer off of Vichoandry Odelin in the sixth to put Panama up 4-2. But Cuba tied it up in the seventh on an RBI single from Eduardo Paret and a sacrifice fly from Gourriel.

    Gourriel appeared to make Cuba the winner with a 2-run homer in the top of the ninth off of Manny Acosta. But Cuba handed the game back to Panama in the bottom of the ninth. Yadier Pedroso allowed the first two Panamanians to reach on a walk and a single and Cuba brought in Yuneski Maya to relieve. Orlando Miller tried to bunt the runners over, but Cuba misplayed it and everybody was safe. Johnny Herrera struck out, but Olmedo Saenz followed with a bloop single to make it 6-5. Carlos Lee then struck out, but Maya hit Earl Agnoly with a pitch (there were six of them in the game and Cuba's Michel Enriquez got plunked three times) to tie it up. Rivera popped up to end the threat.

    Cuba won it in the 11th when Enriquez was hit by a pitch with two outs and Gourriel walked. Cuba brought in a pinch hitter, Yoandy Gorlobo, who singled to center to score Enriquez. Frederich Cepeda singled in Gourriel for an insurance run and Yadel Marti saved it for Cuba in the bottom of the 11th.

    Puerto Rico 8, Netherlands 3

    Wait! Please hello!
    Don't forget the Dutch!
    Like to keep in touch!
    Thank you very much!

    The Dutch made their WBC debut in San Juan against Puerto Rico and were in a 3-3 tie in the fifth. But Puerto Rico plated two in the top of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Jose Valentin and a squeeze bunt by Alex Cora.

    In the seventh, the game got testy. Ivan Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran homered and the next batter, Javy Lopez, was hit by a pitch. That prompted umpire Kevin Causey to warn both teams, but soon after Dutch manager Robert Eenhorn was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Orlando Roman, Puerto Rico's third pitcher, was credited with the win. Carlos Delgado sat out his second straight game with a sore left elbow

    So the Boricuas sit atop Pool C with a 2-0 record and a game with Cuba left on Friday. If Cuba beats the Netherlands Thursday, both Puerto Rico and Cuba would be through to the second round. If the Dutch upset the Cubans, then Panama would still have a chance to advance if they can beat the Dutch Friday and Puerto Rico would beat Cuba and set up a three-way tiebreaker.

  • Pool D

  • Venezuela 6, Italy 0 One day after Italy won a mercy rule game over Australia, the Italians ran into some nasty pitching from Venezuela's Freddy Garcia, Carlos Rodriguez, Rafael Betancourt, and Francisco Rodriguez. The four pitchers held Italy to two hits and struck out 12. Miguel Cabrera hit his second homer of the series to help the Venezuelans even their record at 1-1, the same as Italy.

    Italy faces the Dominican Republic Thursday and Venezuela will face woeful Australia. Both Venezuela and the D.R. will advance to the second round with wins and if either team lost, it would be an upset of major proportions.

2006-03-09 01:15:42
1.   MrTim
Don't touch the coat!
2006-03-09 01:54:24
2.   Bob Timmermann
Wasn't expecting anyone to catch on to that reference.
2006-03-09 05:49:41
3.   DXMachina
Venezuela beat both the Netherlands and Italy? That's a pretty good day's work.

(You've got the wrong team in the header for the Netherlands game.)

2006-03-09 07:25:54
4.   Ravenscar
Bob, please. You haven't learned by now that as big as as nerd you are, there will always be another one even bigger somewhere out there on the web?

Great great great job with this recap - please keep it up!

2006-03-09 07:37:11
5.   De Ruijter
Dear Al Leiter:

On behalf of the entire Canadian nation, thank you for wanting, nay, demanding to be put on team USA.

This makes up for the time we traded Jesse Barfield for you, and the years of blister problems.

2006-03-09 07:53:02
6.   Ken Arneson
Al Leiter gave the Canadian nation years of blister problems? Don't tell me, I don't want to know.

Oh, no, wait, I see...Al Leiter and the blister problems were traded for Jesse Barfield. Sorry, never mind.

2006-03-09 08:05:21
7.   Sam DC
Anyone know if the Mexico Canada game will be available on comcast cable extra innings tonight? I'm stupid and can't figure it out despite 20 minutes of googling and other tricks.
2006-03-09 08:15:19
8.   Mark Donelson
My god, a Sondheim reference at Baseball Toaster? I thought I was the only person in that particular cultural Venn diagram...
2006-03-09 08:35:46
9.   Bob Timmermann
As far as I can tell Mexico-Canada will just be shown on delay on ESPN Deportes. I'll be watching it on my computer after I get back from some exciting Pac-10 basketball tournament action.

Thanks for the catch. Puerto Rico has been restored to its rightful place.

The only Sondheim musical I know anything about is "Pacific Overtures". And I've never seen it performed.

2006-03-09 08:41:50
10.   JeffinTokyo
Bob, Great recaps as always. Firs, here's a little SAT question for you:

Al Leiter is to Team USA as:
1. Gasoline is to an open fire
2. Nitro is to glycerine
3. Terry Mulholland is to the Dodgers (circa 2002)
4. All of the above

Hypothetical Ethical Dilemma
Considering the tiebreakers, if Canada is trailing 2-0, 2-1 or 1-0 after 8 innings against Mexico, it's in their best interest to tank the 9th inning. If the score stands as is, they advance. But if they tie it up and lose 3-2 in extra innings, they are out.

Dilemma: What should they do if they find themselves in this situation?

I think they will play hard and try for the win, for pride. But, do they have the right to lose on purpose to advance?

To me it is the same thing I saw in the World Cup in 2002. Toward the end of the game betwen Mexico and Italy, from scoreboard watching they both realized that if their score stayed as it was, both teams would qualify for the next round. So, for the final ten minutes, neither team took any chances. It was boring to watch, but it was justified and accepted in the world of soccer. Should it be any different here?

I can see both sides. I would like to see Canada play to win, but I wouldn't be offended if they lost strategically. I wonder what all you out there think.

2006-03-09 08:49:09
11.   Bob Timmermann
I'm going to put up something about that scenario in the Mexico/Canada game preview. More or less, I don't think Canada's pitching is good enough and it's hitting bad enough to lose to Mexico in a pitchers duel.
2006-03-09 10:36:48
12.   Voxter
[Heston]Damn you, Al Leiter! Damn you to hell![/Heston]
2006-03-09 12:02:59
13.   Linkmeister
I wonder how common the name "Botha" is in Afrique de Sud? Could Kyle be a grandson of Pik? Where's the SA fan contingent?
2006-03-10 11:56:28
14.   MrTim
The strange thing is, just this past Sunday I was at the Cinefile video store (right next to the Nuart) for the first time ever, and I was poking around, and found a copy of Pacific Overtures on DVD. It's not an official release by any means, and the sound quality isn't too great, but I rented it anyways...only to read a reference on the Griddle a few days later!

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