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WBC Game Chat: Venezuela vs. Dominican Republic, 4 pm PT
2006-03-14 15:00
by Bob Timmermann

Live from Hiram Bithorn Stadium! Also on ESPN2 live.

Before the WBC started, I predicted that these two teams would meet in the semifinals. They won't. The way the San Juan Region played out, all four teams split their first two games. So the winner of this game goes on to the semifinal Saturday in San Diego and the loser gets to go back to spring training.

Venezuela will start Freddy Garcia and the Dominican Republic will counter with Daniel Cabrera.

D.R. manager Manny Acta will likely go with a lineup similar to the one he used in yesterday's win over Cuba. That means Placido Polanco will get the start at second base and bat leadoff. Ronny Paulino will likely be the starting catcher after his 2-for-2 performance against Cuba. Catcher is the only weak spot in the otherwise powerful Dominican lineup. The D.R. team has hit nine home runs, tied with the U.S. for the tournament high. Adrian Beltre has hit four and David Ortiz has hit three.

Venezuela's offense has been rather spotty and the team has relied on its pitching staff, throwing three shutouts in five games. Miguel Cabrera has homered twice for Venezuela as well as Endy Chavez, who has been one of the few pleasant surprises on offense for Venezuela. Bobby Abreu, Carlos Guillen, and Magglio Ordoñez have combined for just 7 hits in 52 ABs, although Abreu has managed to draw six walks.

The D.R. pounded Venezuela 11-5 in the opening game of the first round, hitting Carlos Zambrano (who pitched well yesterday) and Carlos Hernandez. Venezuela will want to keep the game close and get the chance to use Francisco Rodriguez in the late innings. Rodriguez represents the one big edge the Venezuelans have as the D.R. has to rely on either Duaner Sanchez or Fernando Rodney to close out the game.

FINAL SCORE Dominican Republic 2, Venezuela 1

WP -- Miguel Batista
LP -- Kelvim Escobar
Save -- Duaner Sanchez

Five D.R. pitchers combine to hold Venezuela to just one hit (a double by Omar Vizquel in the 6th) and strike out 11. Sanchez loads the bases in the 9th on two walks and an error, but gets out of it.

The Dominican Republic moves on to the semifinals on Saturday night against the winner of tomorrow's game between Cuba and Puerto Rico.

2006-03-14 15:19:07
1.   Bob Timmermann
Chavez CF
Vizquel SS
Abreu RF
Cabrera 3B
Martinez DH
Hernandez C
Ordoñez 1B
Alfonzo 2B
Rivera LF
Garcia P

Dominican Republic:
Polanco 2B
Tejada SS
Pujols 1B
Ortiz DH
Beltre 3B
Alou LF
Encarnacion RF
Castillo C
Taveras CF
Cabrera P

2006-03-14 16:21:29
2.   ToyCannon
Bob, I just want to thank you for doing such a great job on the WBC.
2006-03-14 16:52:50
3.   Bob Timmermann
2006-03-14 17:07:20
4.   joejoejoe
I'll second ToyCannon. The WBC is a lot more exciting than I ever imagined and your coverage the best around.

OT: Did you know that Baseball Toaster shows up in Google News? I saw some of this blog's coverage on the front page related to the WBC - not sure if it was yours or not but it was cool.

2006-03-14 17:13:15
5.   Bob Timmermann
It was weird getting a Google news alert that included something I had just posted.
2006-03-14 17:15:54
6.   Bob Timmermann
Daniel Cabrera has seven strikeouts through four innings.
2006-03-14 17:20:36
7.   For The Turnstiles
The Mazzone Effect is working already.
2006-03-14 17:22:48
8.   Bob Timmermann
Not getting any easier for the Venezuelans as Francisco Liriano is relieving Daniel Cabrera.
2006-03-14 17:34:29
9.   Bob Timmermann
Kelvim Escobar in for Venezuela.
2006-03-14 17:48:27
10.   Bob Timmermann
Vizquel gets Venezuela's first hit, a double and Abreu gets an RBI Olney.
2006-03-14 18:10:35
11.   Bob Timmermann
Miguel Batista pitching for the D.R. with 2 outs in the 7th. Only one hit for Venezuela, but we're tied 1-1.
2006-03-14 18:22:00
12.   Bob Timmermann
1st and 3rd with two outs in the 7th for the D.R. with Tejada at bat.
2006-03-14 18:29:04
13.   Bob Timmermann
Tejada walks to load the bases and then Hernandez allows a passed ball to let Castillo score to make it 2-1 D.R.
2006-03-14 18:34:03
14.   Bob Timmermann
Salomon Torres in to pitch the 8th for the D.R.
2006-03-14 18:40:27
15.   Bob Timmermann
1-2-3 in the 8th for Venezuela.

Ortiz, Beltre, Alou due up in the bottom of the 8th.

2006-03-14 18:44:31
16.   Ken Arneson
I have an autographed Alberto Castillo baseball. If he scores the winning run, maybe my ball will be worth something now!
2006-03-14 18:44:53
17.   Bob Timmermann
A leadoff walk to Ortiz leads to Escobar's departure in favor of Jorge Julio. Jose Reyes in to run.
2006-03-14 18:55:52
18.   Bob Timmermann
Clear the decks, we're headed to the ninth inning!

Bobby Abreu, Miguel Cabrera, and Victor Martinez due up for Venezuela with their team down 2-1.

2006-03-14 18:56:52
19.   Bob Timmermann
Duaner Sanchez of the Mets in to try and close it out.
2006-03-14 18:59:39
20.   Sam DC
Called strike three to Abreu!
2006-03-14 19:01:25
21.   Bob Timmermann
One out to go!
2006-03-14 19:04:42
22.   Bob Timmermann
Ramon Hernandez with a chance for atonement.
2006-03-14 19:06:33
23.   Bob Timmermann
Now it's time for Carlos Guillen to break out of his 2 for 18 slump.
2006-03-14 19:08:48
24.   Bob Timmermann
Sanchez in a mess now with the bases loaded and Venezuela's best hitter of the tournament up: Edgardo Alfonzo.
2006-03-14 19:09:18
25.   Sam DC
2006-03-14 19:11:46
26.   Bob Timmermann
Wow as "This is exciting!" or Wow as in "Encarnacion made a good catch!"
2006-03-14 19:13:18
27.   Sam DC
This is exciting -- can't see the catch.

Any know how bad Tejada's error was? Now that it didn't affect the outcome, one can expect that he won't have heard the last of it from his teammate Hernandez.

2006-03-14 19:32:15
28.   xaphor
The error was pretty mild. Tejeda charged a slow grounder but snow coned the ball and it popped out of his glove as he drew it up to throw.
2006-03-14 19:38:26
29.   xaphor
I really feel bad for Venezuela and most likely for the losers of tomorrow's Puerto Rico v. Cuba game as well. All four of these teams have matched up so close it seems like every game could go either way. Still, makes for some good baseball.

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