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WBC Game Chat: Japan vs. Mexico, 4 pm PT
2006-03-14 15:00
by Bob Timmermann

Live from Angel Stadium! This game should be live on ESPN Deportes.

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.

FINAL SCORE Japan 6, Mexico 1

WP -- Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-0)
LP -- Esteban Loaiza (1-1)
HRs -- Tomoya Satozaki (his 1st), Miguel Ojeda (his 1st)

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.

2006-03-14 15:16:33
1.   Bob Timmermann
Starting lineups:
Ichiro RF
Nishioka 2B
Fukudome CF
Matsunaka DH
Iwamura 3B
Tamura LF
Ogasawara 1B
Satozaki C
Kawasaki SS
Matsuzaka P

Luis C. Garcia CF
Cantu 2B
Castilla 3B
Durazo DH
Luis A Garcia LF
Gonzalez 1B
Ojeda C
Valenzuela RF
Castro SS
Loaiza P

2006-03-14 16:19:32
2.   ToyCannon
Normally I'd root for Mexico but since I want Japan to advance after getting hosed I'm rooting for a Japanese victory.
2006-03-14 16:32:17
3.   For The Turnstiles
Another BIDP!
2006-03-14 16:32:22
4.   Nagman
Do you know if Nori Nakamura (Dodger Experiment '05) was invited to be on the Japanese team?

If not, I'm more perplexed why he was given a look over the dozen or so players that are on the Japanese team.

2006-03-14 16:50:49
5.   Sam DC
Eseteban Loaiza starting to look like Dontrelle Willis, and not in a good way.
2006-03-14 16:53:21
6.   Ken Arneson
Having Ichiro bunt with two runners on? What a frackin' waste.
2006-03-14 16:57:03
7.   Humma Kavula
I just joined the game... are you telling me... Ichiro... bunted?

And there was another bunt-into-double-play?

I was definitely listening to the wrong game.

2006-03-14 16:57:27
8.   kngoworld
2006-03-14 16:59:20
9.   Bob Timmermann
If Mexico wins, I'm still assuming that the Korea-Japan game will be pretty intense.

I would hate to have wasted $50 on a good seat for nothing.

2006-03-14 17:03:34
10.   Ken Arneson
Japan has had two on and nobody out twice, and they've bunted their way out of each inning. Somebody please send Mr. Oh a copy of Moneyball!

Mexico is playing excellent defense today.

2006-03-14 17:05:14
11.   Humma Kavula
BTW, I'm with [2]. I'm rooting for a Japan victory today, followed by a low-scoring Japan victory over Korea, setting up the Japan-Korea semifinal. It was huge when Korea beat Japan in Group A; for Japan to eke out a victory, forcing one last game for all the marbles.... that would rule.
2006-03-14 17:06:37
12.   Ken Arneson
Leadoff runner on base again. C'mon, we need another bunt!
2006-03-14 17:08:04
13.   Bob Timmermann
Two on and no outs. They should have the bunt sign flashing on the Jumbtron.
2006-03-14 17:08:09
14.   Ken Arneson
Leadoff runners on base again. C'mon, we really need another bunt!
2006-03-14 17:08:21
15.   Humma Kavula
Hey, he got the bunt down!
2006-03-14 17:09:19
16.   Ken Arneson
2006-03-14 17:09:27
17.   Humma Kavula
Woo! Ogasawara!!
2006-03-14 17:09:28
18.   Bob Timmermann
Why don't they call Ogasawara by his nickname>


2006-03-14 17:10:18
19.   Ken Arneson
I mean Yay for the bunt, not necessarily for the RBI single. I'm not really rooting for anyone here.
2006-03-14 17:11:05
20.   Bob Timmermann
When Ogasawara bats for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, his theme song is the "Batman" theme.
2006-03-14 17:11:59
21.   Bob Timmermann
Someone living in the Bay Area can't afford to upset his Japanese or Mexican neighbors.
2006-03-14 17:12:09
22.   vockins
This Japan team looks very, uh, "metal", for the lack of a better word.
2006-03-14 17:13:11
23.   kngoworld
Which batman theme? From the movies or the television show?
2006-03-14 17:13:33
24.   Bob Timmermann
The Nelson Riddle version.
2006-03-14 17:14:03
25.   kngoworld
2006-03-14 17:14:59
26.   Bob Timmermann
At the very first Japanese game I attended, at Hiroshima Municipal, they piped in the theme song to "The Prisoner" while the teams warmed up.
2006-03-14 17:15:37
27.   Humma Kavula
So who are the pitchers for Japan and Korea tomorrow? Are we likely to get a 5-to-4-or-less ballgame?
2006-03-14 17:16:48
28.   Bob Timmermann
Japan should be starting Shunsuke Watanabe. I think that Korea will start Sunny Kim. When they met at the Tokyo Dome, the final score was 3-2 Korea.
2006-03-14 17:29:57
29.   Bob Timmermann
Have the Japanese run for the cycle in this game? They've had runners thrown at home and third. Anyone thrown out at second stealing or trying to advance?
2006-03-14 17:31:58
30.   Humma Kavula
They've bunted into double plays, they've been thrown out at home and third, they've had misplay after misplay, they're still winning 5-0.
2006-03-14 17:33:42
31.   Humma Kavula
...I meant to say, "and still, they're winning..."

changes the meaning slightly. You might have been wondering what my point was, and still, I couldn't answer you.

2006-03-14 17:46:02
32.   Humma Kavula
So....... does anybody have tickets for Thursday's USA-Mexico game? Because it looks like it will have no implications for advancing to the semifinals.
2006-03-14 17:50:16
33.   Bob Timmermann
If Korea beats Japan tomorrow, it most certainly will have implications.

Coming into the WBC, Taiwan had shorter odds for winning than Korea or Cuba.

2006-03-14 17:56:58
34.   Humma Kavula
You're right. I already had Hee-Seo...... I mean, Korea, beating Japan tomorrow. It turns out that that hasn't happened yet...
2006-03-14 18:17:28
35.   Bob Timmermann
I wonder what the deal with Oliver Perez is? Has he not fully recovered from last year. He's just pitched one inning for Mexico with 3 Ks and 3 BBs.
2006-03-14 18:18:37
36.   Humma Kavula
OK, I am confused... maybe. Is the following true (assuming Japan holds on to win tonight)?

1) If Korea beats Japan, and the US beats Mexico, Korea and US advance.

2) If Korea beats Japan, and Mexico beats the US, then Korea and Japan advance.

3) If Japan beats Korea and the score is low (5-4 or less), Korea and Japan advance and the Mexico-US game has no implications.

4) If Japan beats Korea and the score is high, then the US has to beat Mexico in order to be in the mix at all; in addition, it depends on how many runs the US allows.

Is that correct?

2006-03-14 18:23:13
37.   For The Turnstiles
Mostly correct.

In scenario (2) I think the US would still have a slight chance. If Korea beats Japan, and the US loses 1-0, that would leave Mexico, US, and Japan all at 1-2, and Japan and the US would each have allowed 4 runs in the games among those 3 teams (assuming tonights score holds up.

In scenario (4) the runs the US allows versus Mexico wouldn't matter, only runs among US/Korea/Japan. They would need Japan to score at least 7.

2006-03-14 18:26:22
38.   Bob Timmermann
You're confused? I look at this stuff a lot and I'm confused.

If Japan holds on to its 5-1 lead. You will have these standings.

Korea 2-0
USA 1-1
Japan 1-1
Mexico 0-2

Then you have these options:
a) Korea and USA win. Korea and USA advnace

b) Korea and Mexico win. Three-way tie for second spot at 1-2. Runs allowed tiebreaker comes into play

c) Japan and USA win. Three way tie for first at 2-1. Runs allowed tiebreaker comes into play.

d) Japan and Mexico win. Korea and Japan advance.

2006-03-14 18:31:21
39.   Humma Kavula
37 Wait... under scenario 2, then the 7 runs that the US allowed to Korea -- a team that played better and advanced to the semifinals and therefore is not involved in the tiebreaker -- would not count in the tiebreaker? Only the runs allowed against teams involved in the tiebreaker itself, and not the "advancement picture" (if you know what I mean), would count?

That seems like a lousy tiebreaker to me. What if the US had lost 14-4? All 14 runs wouldn't count?

2006-03-14 18:33:01
40.   Bob Timmermann
From what I've been able to discern, the only runs that matter are runs in games between teams that are tied.

I suppose this was put in so one team didn't get its stats skewed by having a weak team in its pool. Note that the stat is runs allowed, not runs scored, so running up the score is discouraged.

2006-03-14 18:35:59
41.   For The Turnstiles
39 That's my understanding (which, of course, could be wrong).

Other weirdness:
In scenario 2, if the US wins and Japan pounds Korea, the end effect of the bad call in the US/Japan game could be that Korea loses out on advancing.
And I think that if this game ends 5-1 Mexico is eliminated, but if they score one more run they are still alive.

2006-03-14 18:37:20
42.   For The Turnstiles
And every time I make assumptions about the score in this game, it changes.
2006-03-14 18:39:01
43.   Humma Kavula
I get it, and it makes sense for the first round, when you've got the likes of Taiwan, China, and South Africa. But all eight teams in Pools 1 and 2 are pretty good. None is exceptionally poor.

One team shouldn't get its stats skewed by having a weak team in its pool, but neither should a team in the advancement picture get helped by having a terrible game against the better team discounted. That makes no sense to me.

2006-03-14 18:39:55
44.   Humma Kavula
43 refers to 40.
2006-03-14 18:41:22
45.   Bob Timmermann
Since I'm not watching, can someone tell me if Otsuka's uniform says "Otsuka" or "Ohtsuka"?
2006-03-14 18:41:54
46.   Sam DC
Can the guy who designed these tiebreaks come help me with my taxes?

Or would that likely send me to jail?

2006-03-14 18:43:39
47.   Bob Timmermann
Of course, soccer has gotten by for years just using goal difference as one of its tiebreakers in group play and they don't throw out any matches.

Granted, soccer usually doesn't have as much scoring as baseball.

2006-03-14 19:24:29
48.   xaphor
The US might insist on a change to run differential for the next WBC. While they would currently be sitting -3 with Korea +5 and Japan +4, if they mercy rulled Mexico they would be gauranteed a spot no matter what Korea and Japan did.
2006-03-14 22:09:23
49.   Jose Habib
They should invent some baseball equivalent to penalty shootouts. I suggest a home run derby.

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