The fate of everyone in the Anaheim Region hangs in the balance with this game.
If Mexico wins, Korea is automatically in the semifinals and Mexico and USA have a winner-take-all game on Thursday.
If Japan wins, the Korea-Japan game could just be a preview of a Saturday semifinal if the score is right (or wrong depending upon your perspective). Fans of the USA would then be rooting for Korea to beat Japan.
Japan will start hard-throwing Daisuke Matsuzaka and Mexico will likely start Esteban Loiaza. Both pitchers gave up just one run in their first starts, against China and Canada respectively.
The Japanese are still smarting from their controversial 4-3 loss to the USA Sunday. The Japanese filed a formal protest over umpire Bob Davidson's call on a tagup play on a fly ball. The protest is symbolic though as the play was a judgment call and not subject to reversal by the WBC organizers.
Mexico lost on Sunday to Korea, 2-1, as they fell victim to the bat of Seong-Yeop Lee (who leads the tournament with five homers) and some excellent pitching and fielding. Mexico managed 10 runs against South Africa and nine against Canada, but were shut out by the USA and scored just one run against Korea.
Japan scored 32 runs against Taiwan and China, but have managed just five against teams with Major League pitchers in Korea and the USA.
So, here's your handy guide on who to root for:
If you want Japan to advance, root for Japan
If you want Mexico to advacnce, root for Mexico
If you want Korea to advance, root for Mexico
If you want the USA to advance, root for Mexico.
There you have it, 3 out of 4 baseball fans will be pulling for Mexico today in an afternoon affair in Anaheim. Presumably the crowd will predominantly be pro-Mexico, so the Japanese should have their hands full.
Matsuzaka and company throttle Mexico on just three hits. Japan picks up 12 hits and manages six runs despite giving numerous outs on the basepaths and being shaky in the field.
Japan evens its record at 1-1 and sets up a showdown with Korea tomorrow night in Anaheim at 7 pm PT.
If Korea wins, it moves on to the semis. If Japan wins and scores fewer than six runs and Korea scores fewer than seven runs, then both Korea and Japan advance. In other words, a maximum score of 5-4 Japan sends both Asian teams to semis.
If Japan scores 6 runs, then note how many of the runs are earned because that would be the next tiebreaker.
Then would come batting average.
Remember also that an extra inning game would benefit both Korea and Japan and hurt the USA as the tiebreaker is runs allowed per inning played on defense. Also, if a game goes 14 innings, it is declared a tie. A tie would send Korea to the semis. The USA would have to beat Mexico to advance.
If Japan beats Korea and scores 7 or more runs, the USA would advance to the semis with a win over Mexico Thursday.