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Tuesday in the WBC
2006-03-14 22:17
by Bob Timmermann

The first team to make it to the semifinals was settled today, while the other three spots are still up in the air.


    Dominican Republic 2, Venezuela 1

    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.


    Japan 6, Mexico 1

    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.

2006-03-14 23:42:53
1.   xaphor
Small typo as Mexico is currently residing at 0-2 unless Bob has been consulting Ms. Cleo.

I cannot understand why the pool winners and runners up keep playing each other in the next round. I understand the first two rounds as a way to limit traveling, but surely it would make sense to switch up the groups for the semifinals. If both Japan and Korea make it to the semifinals they will play each other 3 times over the course of 7 games (compared to the World Cup where the max is 2). To me that is just poor planning. Forcing a North America/Asian vs. Latin America final might be beneficial for the ratings but bad for the tournament and the fans.

Hopefully that is something they change the next go round, but baseball might see nothing wrong with preventing a Japan v. US or Dominican v. Puerto Rico final just as it has endured without the possibility of an LA v. SF or NY v. Boston final.

2006-03-14 23:47:49
2.   Bob Timmermann
Whoops, sorry, just a typo there. I have no idea why the semifinals don't have the groups crossover like in just about every international competition.
2006-03-15 08:10:47
3.   Howie
Anyone know if there's a way to catch the Cuba-PR game tonight if you have DirecTV and no Deportes? Why would ESPN show the NIT over the classic?

Looking forward to another DR-Cuba game on Saturday!

2006-03-15 09:09:37
4.   Bob Timmermann
You would have to pay $10 to watch it online I think.

I doubt that Cuban TV is showing it over the internet for free like Korea did with their game against the US. Just a hunch.

And I would think that Puerto Rico is in the same boat as the U.S.

2006-03-15 09:56:41
5.   For The Turnstiles
Hm, I hadn't thought about the possibility of an extra inning game keeping Mexico's hopes alive. With the usual "if I understand this right" caveat, it looks like they have to pitch a shutout, score at least 3, and have the game go at least into the 13th inning. And they're the home team, so it would have to come on a home run.

In fact, if Korea beats Japan, this leads to a strange situation. Mexico would need a 3-0 extra inning win to advance, so scoring a run before the 13th inning would cause them to be eliminated. But if the game went into the bottom of the 9th scoreless, the US could advance by walking in the winning run for Mexico!

2006-03-15 12:39:52
6.   Bob Timmermann
I don't think Mexico has enough innings to catch up. They would be in a 3-way tie at 1-2, you already have Mexico at 4 runs allowed in 17 2/3 or .226. Mexico has already given up 6 and they can't play more than 14 innings. So the best they could would be 6 runs allowed in 20 innings or .3. The USA is at 3 runs in 9 innings or .333. To get under .226 in a nine-inning game, they would have to give up one run or less. So the USA could lose 1-0 to Mexico and advance at 1-2.
2006-03-15 12:41:14
7.   Bob Timmermann
Sorry, Japan is at 4 runs allowed in 17 2/3 IP.
2006-03-15 14:17:17
8.   For The Turnstiles
Japan is at 5 runs allowed (4 to the US, 1 to Mexico), or .283.
Mexico could get to 6 runs allowed in 22 or 23 innings, which would be .273 or .261.
Though as I said, the US could prevent that from happening by walking in a run in the bottom of the ninth, if need be.

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