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Baseball Perspectives

Updated: 2016-08-03T07:17:19.950-07:00


Blogger No More


Blogger had me blocked from posting for 3 days under suspicion of this being some kind of spam blog. This is why I had nothing to offer about the semi-final games.

Since I was already annoyed by Blogger's poor service and getting ready to revamp the blog I went ahead and did that this weekend. This blog has been renamed The Baseball Review and moved to as well, it should be up and running there by the end of the day. I will also be adding daily content soon to go with the new look and name.

USA Preparation


A-Rod suggests that Team USA should spend a few weeks at a training camp together before the 2009 WBC. The rest of the team seems to agree. This is great news for the future of the tournament. The USA players want to win next time; they recognize it as a legitimate competition and they are willing to bust their butts to win it.

I think they should also play some exhibition games against MLB training squads, too. And don’t be surprised if, by the fourth or fifth iteration, they are playing in other tournaments just to warm up for the Classic.

WBC Preview: Semifinals


The tournament is arranged so that each of the semifinals games is a rematch from the Round 2 pools. This is the last chance for each team to play its best strategy to beat the other.

Japan came into the tournament looking to assert its dominance over Korean and Taiwanese baseball. They had quick success with the Taiwanese part, but they have lost to the Koreans twice now, both in close games and largely thanks to the top-notch Korean pitching. So Japan is going to need their bats working tomorrow if they want to make the final game. Korea just needs to play like they have been.

The powerful Dominican Republic lineup has had its own offensive troubles through most of the tournament. The one time the bats did get going in Round 2, however, was against Cuba. Cuba also committed 2 errors in that game and walked 8 batters. They had similar troubles against Puerto Rico in the first round, but showed more control in the rematch. They will need to have another turn around and shut down the Dominican bats to move on.

Asian Baseball fans, I think, have to be rooting for the Dominican Republic to make the finals along with Korea or Japan. That result would again put the MLB stars up against the KBO and/or Nippon Baseball stars. A tournament win under those conditions would garner a little more respect for the Japanese Major Leagues than a win over Cuba would. Either way an Asian tournament win would be a major victory.



The World Anti-Doping Agency is threatening to fail the WBC's testing policy. They originally brought this up a couple of days ago and have been making a steady stream of noise since then. There is a rebuttal here, accusing the WADA official of making his statements without an understanding of the facts and targeting them frivolously at MLB instead of the organization in charge of testing, the International Baseball Federation.

The more I read about this, the more I think it is a ridiculous power struggle. Apparently an incomplete list of banned substances was sent to athletes at some point. The appropriate response, I think, when the WADA learns of a mistake like this would be to make sure that a correct list is sent out ASAP. Instead we get public news items and threats against Baseball’s Olympic reinstatement. A correct list, however, was sent out and none of the athletes have tested positive for any of the substances (the WADA hasn’t issued any complaints about the actual testing). Seems like the WADA is just making a play to take over testing for this tournament.

USA @ Mexico


An elimination game for USA. If they lose, giving up 2 or more runs in the process, Japan will advance in their place. American fans are looking for a South Africa type game. If they don't score early they will be on shaky ground.

Clemens will start for USA against Mexico'a Oliver Perez...

I tried to blog the game but, alas, Blogger was down for most of the game and would not update.

USA is out, Japan is in. The US sluggers couldn't figure out how to hit in the entire tournament. Anytime they were facing someone who was throwing anything better than batting practice they just couldn't get the bats going. If they were a ton better than these other teams, it wouldn't have been a problem, but these guys were good and the US didn't play well enough to beat good teams. I suspect they will make a better show in 2009.

This blog will be moving sometime next week to someone who can prevent the problems I have been experiencing with Blogger over the last few weeks. I will give you details when I have them. I won't move it completely until the tournament is over, so this is still the place for updates...

Korean Military Exemption


This story has been circulating since before the first game of the tournament. These important facts, however, seem to have been ignored by the baseball writers:
A total of 11 players out of a 30-member roster in the Classic, including Choi Hee-seop of the Dodgers, Kim Sun-woo of the Colorado Rockies and Bong Jung-keun of the Cincinnati Reds have yet to complete their mandatory military service.
I'm not sure whether any of these players had intended on going back to Korea to serve or whether they were all going to dodge the draft. Either way I am suprised no one thought it enough of a story to mention in game commentary. I had assumed that the MLB players had all done their service before leaving Korea.

The Witch Hunt Continues...


Yahoo sports columnist Jeff Passan is a bit behind the times jumping on the anti-Bonds bandwagon this late. The article is over-the-top, all around, (some guys are publishing a book, now we have proof)... but this paragraph stood out as particularly silly:
The damage is evident. Bonds can pass Ruth and Hank Aaron -- even break his own single-season record of 73 home runs --– and it would register as an accomplishment where, exactly? Barry's world, because it's the only place that will bother to recognize him.
Really Jeff? Because I think a career year from Bonds at 42 in a league that administers regular steroid tests would push a lot of interesting questions to the foreground. I think a lot of people who currently have Bonds pinned as evil incarnate would be questioning not only whether he took the drugs but, assuming he did, whether they could have possibly helped him.

Korea @ Japan


This is a very important game to the outcome of this tournament and to Asian baseball in general...Wantanabe is the pitcher for Japan... Japan is through the first inning clean... the longer this goes scoreless the worse for the USA...Korea is pitching Chan Ho Park... Ichiro has a leadoff hit... I don't know about the decision to start Park. They might get a couple of good innings out of him but he tends to blow up. Or at least he did when he played in the US... a ground out moves Ichiro to second... Fukudome struck out... and Matsunaka hit a chopper to third for the third out...The US wants Korea to score now... a walk and a hit, Korea is threatening... the #9 batter Kim struck out...Japan has a hit off of Chan Ho Park's glove to lead off the second... 2 down now, runner has moved to second... Japan has a hit but is caught trying to score for the third out...Korea goes down in order in the 3rd... still scoreless, USA is sweating bullets...Japan retires in order, including an Ichiro strikeout...Korea is down in order...Another strikeout to leadoff the bottom side of the fourth. This is turning into a pitcher's duel, just what the US was hoping to avoid... Matsunaka has a single, then they hit into a double play...Korea is down in order again in the top of the 5th...Japan is also down in order. Going into the 6th inning now and both pitchers are rolling. They are both at about 65 pitches...Nothing for Korea again...Japan has a leadoff walk in the bottom of the 6th and Ichrio bunts the runner to second. 1 out... A groundout fails to move the runner to third, 2 down... Byuyn-Hyun Kim is replacing Park on the mound... Kim walks one and grounds Matsunaka out to end the inning... Japan's offense is working better than that of Korea so far, in a low scoring game that isn't good for the Americans at all...Going into the 7th inning... Japan is putting Sugiuchi on the mound now... he walks the leadoff man, this is Korea's chance to get ahead... they bunt the runner to second, 1 out... Sugiuchi keeps it under control and the game stays scoreless...Japan also goes down in order... With the game scoreless this late it starts to become possible that we will see a tie game here. If the game is tied after 14 innings it will be ruled a tie-game, that would put the US above Japan (assuming a victory over Mexico)...Korea has a 1 out walk in the 8th... now they have a hit and the runner rounds second. He was bet by the throw by 10 feet but the tag is dropped and he is safe. Runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, now... this is Korea's chance. Japan is changing pitchers... that was Koreas 2nd hit of the game... Fujikawa is the pitcher now... he gives up a double, 2 runs score and the batter is hosed going to third... 2 outs, a flyball leads the third out... 2-0...Japan's turn in the bottom of the 8th... 1 out, Korea is putting in Dae-Sung Koo to pitch... Japan is down in order... they will have 1 more chance in the 9th... the 2, 3 and 4 hitters will bat...Otsuka is pitching for Japan now... Otsuka has them in order in the 9th...If Japan doesn't score 2 runs in the 9th the US will have its fate in their own hands... Japan has a leadoff homerun, that was Nishioka... Matsunaka has a single with one out... Korea is changing pitchers. Japan is putting in a pinch runner and pinch hitting for Imae... strikeout... and another. Game Over.Japan is done unless the US loses to Mexico tomorrow and gives up at least two runs the the process. Korea, however, is through to the[...]

Cuba @ Puerto Rico


This is the last Pool 2 game. The winner will move to the semi-finals for a rematch against the Dominican team on Saturday. Puerto Rico won the last match-up handily but the Cubans have put forth a much stronger effort since then.Puerto Rico will be starting Dicky Gonzalez and Cuba will put Ormari Romero on the mound. Romero has thrown 4 scoreless innings and has struck out 5 batters so far in the Classic.The game starts at 7:00 EST and will not be on TV...Gonzalez pitched in Japan last year... he walks the Cuban leadoff man... Paret is looking to steal off of Pudge right away... he runs a few times, but the pitches are fouled off... now they are pitching out. This is amazing play, there hasn't been an out yet and they are already making regular pickoff attempts and pitchouts... Paret finally took second. The throw was there in time but was taken on a hop and the SS couldn't control it... a walk now, those pitchouts had a big impact there... a nine pitch at bat ends in a ground out but advances the runners on the hit-and-run... 1 run scores on another ground out... Gonzalez issues a walk, runners on the corners now... the inning is finally over, Gonzalez threw over 30 pitches but gave up only 1 run...Bernie Williams has a leadoff homerun to tie up the game... he worked the count to 3-0, got an easy pitch to hit and turned on it... Romero got the rest of them but we have a new ballgame...Gonzalez struck out the leadoff man, but gave up a hit to the second batter... and another, Cuba is threatening again with 1 down... Gonzalez took down Cuba's #1 and 2 batters to get out of the inning safely. He has now thrown over 50 pitches, at this rate he might get 1 or two more innings. I don't know if Puerto Rico will want him in that long...Valentin has a 2 out hit... Valentin was hosed stealing but the SS (Paret) missed the tag so he is safe... Now the announcers are talking about how great the umpires have been in the Classic, it is good to hear that, many seem to think they are terrible... Romero is out of the inning, still 1-1...That was a quicker inning for Gonzalez, 1-2-3. He has now thrown 60 pitches. The game has settled quite a bit since that wild first inning. I think that is good for Puerto Rico...Bernie Williams has his second hit of the game with one out in the third inning... he got caught in a rundown after a botched hit-and-run. 2 down... the announcer says "off the top of my head," Bernie Williams stole about 15-17 bases a year at his peak. If that was off the top of his head it was pretty good. Williams stole 15 or more 4 times, 17 was his career high... Pudge lined out. Inning over, still 1-1...Cuba's Urrutia has a leadoff hit... Garlobo has a 2nd hit, right down the 3rd baseline, 1st and 2nd, none out... Cora made a nice play to knock down that ground ball and keep it in the infield, save a run and pick up an out a first base. 2nd and 3rd, 1 out... Gonzalez pitched around Rameriez, Puerto Rico is looking for the double play here... they are changing Gonzalez out for Santiagio... Santiago was ejected for plugging a Cuban batter in his last appearence... A hit by pitch drives in the go-ahead run... they get the force at home on a ground ball rather than try the double play... Cintron fielded the ground ball and rushed the throw to second throwing it past Cora to let 2 more runs score. They give Cintron the error... a flyball makes the third out. 4-1 Cuba...I took a little break and missed a few innings...Came back to see that Cuba's manager is ejected and that Puerto Rico has scored a run to make it 4-2... they have runners on first and third... Beltran has a hit to score one, third out is made ag home. 4-3 Cuba...Cuba didn't tack on any more in the 8th...Puerto Rico has a runner with 1 out in the 8th... Carlos Delgado came in for his first at-bat of the tournament and got a hit on the first pitch.[...]

Public Support


Tom Verducci has nice things to say about the World Baseball Classic.

TV Coverage


Korea and Japan play tonight. The game decides which of those two teams will advance--since they both gave up the same number of runs to USA. It also decides whether USA itself has a chance to advance. To American viewers this has to be the most important game this round. As of now, ESPN does not plan to air the game live.

A similar problem exists with tonight's other game, an all-or-nothing rematch between Cuba and Puerto Rico. This game will not be aired, even on tape-delay.

When it comes time to figure out TV contracts for the tournament in 2009--I assume they aren't already given to ESPN?--MLB should remember this. They need to make ESPN agree to air every game from round 2 and after on a major station (ESPN or ESPN2)... If ESPN can't agree to this, they should license out each game seperately to someone who will show it.

More Bonds


Griffey says Bonds is clean, despite anecdotes that Bonds had declared his intention to start using roids directly to Griffey.
"He works hard," Griffey said. "I've got cousins who work in gyms. All they do is lift weights and they make Barry look small. When you go in the gym and give 100 percent, you're bound to see results. That's the way things work. I have to do it with rehab -- give 100 percent in rehab to get back on the field."
I don't know whether Griffey belives this, but I think he has a point. I, for one, have a hard time taking the he-must-use-roids-look-at-him arguments. Whatever other evidence we might use to document Bonds' drug use may or may not be valid but "he's buff" or even "gee he got buff quick" just doesn't cut it.

I think Bonds is largely a scapegoat, it is better for everyone involved to target him than to look to the real issue--which is that MLB had no rules prohibiting steroid use until 2002. MLB was neglectful of this issue and they are going to launch an investigation of Bonds so that they can pretend like this is his fault alone. I don't buy it.

Japan @ Mexico


The loser of this game will be effectively knocked out of the tournament, the winner will hang on to a chance to advance. If Japan wins they will need to beat Korea to advance. If Mexico wins they will need to win against the US...More interesting, perhaps, should Japan win this game and beat Korea, the US will be involved in another runs-allowed tie-break. The runs scored in this game, however, won't count toward that so this is purely win/lose...Esteban Loaiza is starting for Mexico... Japan is down in order...Daisuke Matsuzaka is the Japanese pitcher... He is supposed to be the best pitcher in Japan, possible Gyroball today... Jorge Cantu, who has represented much of Mexico's offense in the tournament, has the first hit of the game with 1 out... Matsuzaka is out of the inning cleanly, nothing that looks like a Gyroball though...Matsunaka, who I told you to watch before the tournament started, walked... Iwamura has a line drive single... Tamura is looking to bunt Matsunaka to third... he lays it down but they have a 2-6-3 double play. Tamura thought it was foul and didn't run until late...Mexico has another runner on a 1 out walk... the runner is caught in a rundown and the throw back to first hits him and rolls into the dugout. Runner moves to third with one out... Matsuzaka gets a strikeout, 2 down... the run doesn't score. 0-0 after 2 innings...Satozaki has a leadoff hit... they are looking to bunt again... Kawasaki is swinging away at the second pitch and has a single to bring Ichiro up... Ichiro lays down the bunt and moves the runners to 2nd and 3rd with one out... ground ball and the runner on third is out in a rundown. 1st and 3rd with 2 down... ground out still no score...Matsuzaka got them in order. 47 pitches in three innings, 2 strikeouts...Matsunaka has a leadoff hit... still scoreless, but Japan's offense has been much more successful so far... a walk puts them on 1st and 2nd, they bunt them to 2nd and 3rd... a 2 run single. The bunt paid off that time... Homerun, 4-0 Japan... that was Satozaki, the catcher... Ichiro has a 2 out single but they leave him at first...Matsuzaka got them in order again. He is now at 58 pitches through 4 innings...New pitcher Reyes for Mexico... Fukudome beats out an infield hit... another hit but Fukudome is hosed trying for third... the announcers say that with a 4 run lead Japan can afford to be more aggressive. I would have sat tight at second, looking for a big inning instead of the 1 run that getting to third allows... a near double play is thrown away, runner at 2nd, 2 out... Iwamura steals third and scores on a single... strikeout, inning over, 5-0 Japan...Matsuzaka issues his second walk of the day with one out in the 5th... a well-turned double play leaves them empty again...Japan goes down in order... going into the bottom of the 6th now...Japan is changing pitchers, putting in Wada... Juan Castro has a leadoff single... Wada takes down Cantu and Castilla to leave it at 5-0...Japan is down in order again...Mexico is running out of time... Going into the 8th now...Mexico has a solo-shot in the 8th... 5-1 going into the 9th inning...Japan's leadoff man singles and the 9 batter Kawasaki is trying to bunt for a hit but fails. He advances the runner to 2nd though, bringing up Ichiro... Ichiro has a base hit and it is bobbled in right field to score the run and move Ichiro to 2nd... a walk has runners on 1st and 2nd now... a flyball makes the 2nd out... going into the bottom of the 9th, 6-1 Japan...Japan is putting in Otsuka to close... he walks the leadoff, a bobbled potential double-play has runners on 1st and 2nd with none down for Japan... a flyball and a double-play end the game. 6-1 Japan.So now the US needs Japan to lose to Korea or s[...]

Venezuela @ Dominican Republic


This is an all or nothing game, the winner will advance and the loser will not...Cabrera will start for the Dominican Republic... Venezuela is down in order. They are going to want to score early and often to keep ahead of the Dominican offense...Freddy Garcia is the Venezuelan pitcher... the DR has a leadoff hit... Tejada has a double, now on 2nd and 3rd with none out... they walked Ortiz intentionally to get to Beltre who has 4 homeruns on the tournament... Beltre hits a lineout to right... Alou has an infield hit on a dribbling ground ball... inning over. 1 run doesn't hurt the Venezuelans too bad but they need to score ASAP or they will lose...Venezuela has a baserunner on a Cabrera leadoff walk... they leave him at first base...The Dominicans don't do anything there despite a single, still 1-0 going into the 3rd...Chavez hit a deep drive but it didn't quite make it... still 1-0... the rain is getting bad...Ortiz is on base after a fielding error, 1 out... they leave him there... the Dominican bats are very quiet so far...Venezuela doesn't score again in the top of 4... they have struckout 7 times already in this game...1-0 going into the 5th...Francisco Liriano is pitching for the Dominicans now... he is young and hard throwing but gave up 19 hits and walked 7 in just over 20 innings last year in the majors... he walks the leadoff man... Liriano gets through the inning with nothing hurt...Garcia is coming out of the game too, Escobar will replace him... He brings them down in order...Liriano issued another leadoff walk... Vizquel has a 1 out double to put runners on 2nd and 3rd... Bobby Abreu grounds out scoring the run and moving Vizquel to third with 2 down, tie game... Venezuela needs to score this second run and go ahead here... they don't. 1-1...Escobar takes down the Ortiz/Beltre part of the lineup in order...This is really turning into a great game, tied going into the 7th in a must-win game for both teams... these are the kinds of situations that you only see in tournament-style play, it will be October before you see anything like this again...Guillien walked with 2 outs in the 7th... DR is changing pitchers... Bautista got the out...Alberto Castillo has a 1-out single for the DR... Castillo steals 2nd and a single moves hm to third with 2 out... Tejada walks... a past ball scores the go aghead run... they get Pujols and it is 2-1 DR going into the 8th...Torres is pitching the 8th for DR... he gets the Venezuelans in order...Escobar walked Ortiz... Escobar is coming out for Jorge Julio and Reyes is coming in to run for Ortiz... Reyes stole 2nd, then Beltre got out... Reyes now stole 3rd base... Alou lined out... a shallow flyball is the third out...Torres is coming out for Sanchez in the 9th inning... the Venezuelans need to score a run here or they are done for the tournament... a walk with 2 down puts the winning run at the plate... an error on a ground ball to SS puts the winning run on base and the tieing in scoring position... they walk the bases loaded... They fly him out... Game Over.The DR andvances, the Venezuealans do[...]

Supporting the 'Witch Hunt' Theory


Clemens says that media coverage of the so-called 'Balco' Barry is a witch hunt. These guys (here and here) seem to agree. They bring up valid points that have been ignored in the coverage of Bonds despite being important and obvious. Read them.

Meanwhile, Bob Feller adds to the flood of keep-him-out-of-the-Hall-and-strike-his-records news.



Pinto has a couple of links to Gyroball info.

I mentioned that Daisuke Matsuzaka was supposed to be throwing one when I liveblogged his start last week, he apparently says he wasn't. He does say, however that he might throw a few against Mexico tonight.

On Last Night's Loss


I have noticed that a common response from fans in the US to last night’s loss to Korea is outrage. People seem to think that a loss to Korea is a disgrace to American baseball.

Let us understand something, the loss to Canada was a disgrace. In that game the US players were falling all over themselves from the start. It was a bad game, we blew it. The loss to Korea was hardly similar. We played poorly, to be sure, but we did so largely because we were getting drubbed by the Koreans, not the other way around. The errors came late, after the 6-1 deficit. We should have hit more, yes, and we would likely do so if we played them again but pitching was always supposed to be Korea’s strength. It is not all that surprising that we had a little trouble hitting.

We did lose control late in the game, giving up in about the 5th or 6th inning when we were down 6-1. That was a mistake since our offense is potent enough to make up a 5 run deficit easily, but it is understandable to be flustered when you are getting beat outright by a team you expected to be easily better than.

Stop your whining about what poor representation of American baseball we are getting. Isn’t it possible that maybe, just maybe, these guys are good?

USA @ Korea


A win here would be the second for either of these team, making it very probable that they would make the next round.More importantly, perhaps, this game is another clash between the Asian players and the MLB. The Asians have faired pretty well so far, Korea beating Mexico and Japan only just losing to the US yesterday.Willis is pitching again tonight. He started the loss against Canada and will be looking to redeem himself...Vernon Wells walks on four pitches... Jeter hits a dribbler out of the infield, 1st and 2nd with none out. Looking for an early lead here... Griffey hit a deep warning track fly ball moving Wells to third... A-Rod poped out to the infield... Chipper Jones walks to load them up... Veritek is up now, he already has one grandslam in the tournament... Strike out. The US is threatening in the first, but got nothing...Willis isn't starting out very well, walking the leadoff man with a handful of wild pitches... he induces the double play... a homerun to Seung-Yeop Lee, his 5th in the tournament... 1-0 Korea... he walked one and gave up two hits to score a second run... got the third out finally. 2-0 Korea...Willis struck out two in the second and managed not to give up any runs...Griffey hit a solo-shot in the third...Another run for the Koreans...US is threatening again with a few walks... another walk loads them up but none score on a bunch of strikeouts...Dan Wheeler is pitching now... he gave up a 2 out double and walked Seung Yeop Lee... Hee Seop Choi hit a homerun making it 6-1...5th inning... the US keeps putting runners on base (mostly with walks) and they keep striking out, getting shut down by the Koreans before any runs score. That time it was a walk and a hit, followed by a double-play to end the inning... The Koreans are also throwing their 4th pitcher of the night so far...Wheeler is back for the 5th inning... he struck out the side...The US went down in order in the 6th...Korea picked up another run in the 6th on a walk, a hit and couple of bad plays by Utley...The United States needs to score a few extra runs here, even if they don't win, to make it more likely that they advance...Jeter just fielded an easy ground ball and one-hopped the throw from second base. We can't do anything right anymore...They picked up a couple of runs in the ninth, and that could be important... 7-3 Korea... Game Over.If Japan wins out now there will be a three way tie, just as there was in round 1. The US has played their games against the potentially tied teams and given up 10 runs. Korea and Japan still have to play each other, Korea has given up three runs and Japan has given up four. We are already assuming that Japan wins that game (since that is the only way there can be a tie) so we will need Japan to score at least 7 runs (all earned).This is all assuming that Mexico doesn't win a game (against Japan or the US) and that Japan beats Korea. This round could get[...]

Cleaning Up


ESPN reports that over 200 drug tests have been taken for the World Baseball Classic with no positive results. I take this to mean that testing is more important than punishment in the solution to the drug problem in sports. It is amazing how little people will try to get away with when they are sure to be caught.

Of course, this is all assuming that the tests succeed at detecting the drugs. If they don't, we have a problem.

via Pinto.

Venezuela @ Puerto Rico


If Venezuela wins this game than the last two games in Pool 2--the first round rematches--will be all-or-nothing. If Puerto Rico wins than they will likely advance and Venezuela will likely not.Piniero is pitching for Puerto Rico... he walked one and threw 18 pitches but looked okay on the whole getting through the first inning...Venezeula is starting Carlos Zambrano... Pudge has a single the other way... the announcers just gave a hitting lesson based on Pudge's hit. "Throw the knob of the bat at the ball... they said. I bet these guys had a good laugh... Zambrano walks one. 1st and 2nd, two out... Cruz Jr. struck out looking...Piniero gave up a walk and a Ramon Hernandez hit, runners on first and second with none out in the second inning... Javy Lopez, at first base instead of catcher, made a nice catch in foul territory... Piniero induces the double play. He continues to struggle a bit, but has managed not to let it cost any runs so far...Zambrano strikes out Rios and Valentin and induces the popup from Cintron to retire time in order... he has thrown 41 pitches so far...Piniero moving a little quicker that inning. One hit, but nothing hurt. He has now thrown 44 pitches...Zambrano walks Cora, but Cora is quickly caught stealing... Pudge has a 2nd hit, but again they leave him on base...Piniero gets them in order again including a strikeout against Miguel Cabrera...Score still 2-0 going into the 8th... the Puerto Ricans have treatened a few times but haven't managed to score yet...Both pitchers are rolling now. Zambrano took out Puerto Rico in order, striking out Rios... going into the 5th inning...Chavez hit a 2-run bomb off of Piniero to take the lead... he issues a walk and is coming out of the game... Pedro Feliciano, who has been playing in Japan, replaces Piniero... he gets Bobby Abreu to pop out to end the inning...Puerto Rico had runners on 1st and 3rd with none out. They laid down a bunt but the runner at second is forced out and Valentin at third got caught off the bag. He looked safe coming back in but was called out... inning over...Baez, the new pitcher for Puerto Rico, got through that inning clean...Puerto Rico had a couple of hits in the 6th, but couldn't score... still 2-0...Victor Martinez hit a grand slam in the 8th, forget about this[...]

Dominican Republic @ Cuba


The Dominican powerhouse offense was shut down by the Puerto Rican pitching last night. A loss to Cuba today would almost certianly eliminate them from the tournament and would make Cuba sure to advance.The game is on ESPN at 2:00 EST. I will liveblog it here...The Dominicans have two outs in the first inning and the Cubans throw up and in on Pujols hitting him. They are playing a big infield shift to the right side against Ortiz. He grounds out...Odalis Perez is pitching for the Dominican team... he gives up a leadoff hit. Perez needs to give the Dominicans enough good innings for them to take a big lead. As soon as the bullpen enters the game the Cubans should start scoring very quickly... Double-play... the defense on the left side of the field is having trouble seeing the ball. Beltre lost track of a line drive for the first hit and Alou failed to track down an easy fly ball for another. 1 on, 2 out... Now Perez walks one... safely out of the inning...A quick whole inning, both sides went down in order...The Dominicans have a baserunner in the 3rd inning after a walk... a hit puts runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out... a big double by Tejada scores both runners. Cuba is changing pitchers. The Dominican team needs to take advantage of this and pick up at least one more run here. If they can build enough of a lead they should be able to hold on despite the shaky bullpen... an error on a ground ball with two outs causes two more runs to score. That was a big play...Cuba got another baserunner in the third but hit into another double-play and left the bases empty. 4-0 Dominican Republic...D.R. has a double and a single in the 4th to put in another run... still only 1 out... strike-em-out throw-em-out double-play... the bats have really started up now, the Dominicans have space to let their weak bullpen work now...There has been some kind of scene in the stands with security removing some guy with a "down with Fidel" sign... it got loud for a minute but is settled down now...Ortiz hit a long homerun... 6-0 now...The Dominican manager says Perez will come out after the 5th inning. That should be enough from him with the lead they have now... he ends up coming out with 2 down... Jorge Sosa is the new pitcher. He is through the inning quickly...Cuba gives up a walk and a double. They are changing pitchers... the new pitcher (Cuba's 4th on the day) got two outs, including one on a play at home, but walked one to load the bases... they are changing him out... they walk Ortiz putting in another run and Alou grounds out. 7-0...Cuba can't get any help... they finally got another baserunner in the 6th and hit into another double-play, this one on a line drive...With 2 outs in the 7th Paulino hit a deep drive off the wall. He thought it was gone and was trotting around first base, he got hosed at 2nd... still 7-0...Cuba picked up their first run with a no-out bomb to left-center field. Sosa served that ball on a platter... an out and a base hit. Cuba needs to turn this into a big inning if they are going to have any chance at a comeback... a double has runners on 2nd and third. Sosa is not throwing well at all right now. There are some guys throwing in the bullpen but they are leaving him in for now... Sosa gets the 2nd out and walks them loaded, now they will pull him out... the new pitcher Sanchez gets the strikeout to end the inning...The commentators are discussing David Ortiz, suggesting that he might be kept out of the Hall of Fame solely because he is a DH. Though Ortiz was very nearly [...]

Mexico @ Korea


Another Asia/America matchup. The Japanese kept up with the USA team well today, losing in the ninth. Let's see how the Koreans do with the Mexico team...

Rodrigo Lopez is pitching for Mexico...

In the first inning Seung-Yeop Lee, the same one who hit 3 bombs in the first round, hit a 2 run shot. 2-0 Korea...

3rd inning, Luis A. Garcia hit a solo shot for Mexico... 2-1...

Going into the sixth inning, still 2-1...

Pitchers duel into the ninth inning... still 2-1. Castilla has off of Chan-Ho Park, who is closing for Korea. A ground out and a past ball move his pinch-runner to third base but Park manages a K to end the game.

Korea maintained a team 1.00 ERA for the tournament so far. Their pitching has been stellar and Lee (Seung-Yeop, he is one of 5 Lee's on the starting lineup) has given the offense enough of a boost to keep them undefeated.

The Asian teams look very good so far, they should be happy with the performance. Don't be surprised to see either Korea or Japan (whichever of the two wins their head-to-head match-up) make the trip to the second round with the US. Korea plays America tomorrow night. It should be interesting.

Puerto Rico @ Dominican Republic


The Dominican Republic should be the favorite here, but Puerto Rico is not far behind. The Dominican team's lack of pitching could start to standout more now that the pitch limit is up to 85, it will be interesting to see if this costs them.

Bartolo Colon is making the start for the Dominican team... Pudge Rodriguez has a "double" on a flyball to right that should have been scored and error. He is on 2nd with 1 out... a flyout moves him to third with 2 outs... Beltre makes a nice play on a tough hop at third to strand him...

Beltre hit a homerun in the bottom of the 2nd... 1-0 Dominican Republic...

In the top of the 4th Puerto Rico tied it up on a pair of doubles. A groundout moved the runner to third with one out... a walk puts runners on 1st and 3rd. Colon is starting to struggle, if he has to come out of the game this early it will be tough on the Dominicans to finish up the game. The Puerto Ricans need to turn this into a big inning... Colon gets out of the inning with just the one run allowed. They will need another good inning or two from him unless the offense gets going. He is up to about 60 pitches...

Colon is out in the 6th... the new pitcher issues a leadoff walk... a double puts runners on 2nd and 3rd with none out, that is the second double for Lopez... Cruz has a hit to score 2... another hit scores Cruz... 4-1...

7th inning, a hard hit ball by Beltran (he got on with an error) and another hit by Lopez and the Puerto Ricans are threatening again... yet another hit scores 1... and 2 more. Now 7-1... That was a big inning, the Dominican team is going to score runs eventually, the wide lead gives Puerto Rico a much better chance of holding on...

A lot of wierd play , including 2 hits and a walk, puts runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs for the Dominicans... they don't end up scoring any... still 7-1...

Still 7-1 going into the top of the 9th... if the Dominicans lose this game, as it looks like they will, both them and the Venezuelans will be 1 loss away from almost sure elimination. They still have to play each other on tuesday...

Game Over. The Dominican team couldn't come up with the offense against some impressive Puerto Rican pitching... now they will have to win out.

Japan @ USA


Ichiro has a leadoff homerun off of Jake Peavy... 1-0 Japan...

I am leaving for about an hour now... I expect that the US will be scoring at least 5 runs or so in this game, pitching shouldn't be the issue...

The US just broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the ninth inning with a bases-loaded single. The Japanese hit a sac-fly in the 8th and scored but it was called back on appeal to third that the runner left early. He didn't. Some will be upset about that, to be sure. I'm not sure it matters, the single in the ninth was a two run single if it needed to be. Whether it would have happened the same in a 4-3 game, I don't know... that is just how the game goes down.

The Japanese proved themselves on the level with the USA team, though. This was a big game for international baseball.

Japan now needs to beat both the Koreans and the Mexicans if they want to advance.

Cuba @ Venezuela


Venezuela's pitching has been top-notch and their lineup is stacked with major leaguers. The Cubans have proven to be one of the best hitting teams in the tournament so far.

The game gets underway in about 20 minutes...

Johan Santana, pitching for Venezuela, is through the first inning in order...

The Cuban pitcher Marti struggled a bit in the first, he went 3-2 on his first three batters. He walked one but got out of the inning with nothing hurt. 0-0...

Cuba has a 1-out double on Santana... a bit of wierd play puts runners on 1st and 3rd with 2 down... a single scores the run and leaves runners on 1st and 2nd... inning over 1-0...

Marti issues another walk... bullpen is active... a double-play leaves them empty...

Santana gets 3 in order... going into the bottom of 3. 1-0 Cuba...

Venezuela has a runner on first with one out... Vizquel bunts him to 2nd, 2 out... they don't score him...

Marti strikes out a couple that inning, he seems to have caught his stride... still 1-0...

Another quick inning for Santana... he has one bad inning so far. This is turning into a pitchers duel...

Marti has runners on 1st and 2nd after a pair of hits... he will be replaced. None out... A bunt for a basehit loads up the bases... fly ball is not deep enough... another one in the same spot. 2 down... strikeout, still 1-0...

Santana is not back in the 6th... a walk, a steal and a single score Cuba's second run... a ground ball ends up in Vizquel's shirt, runners on 1st and 2nd... homerun, 5-0 Cuba... back-to-back 6-0...

Cuba picked up another run in the 7th on a handful of singles... 7-0...

Venezuela got 2 runs back in the 7th... still a long way off, 7-2 Cuba...

Game Over. Cuba wins 7-2, they used 2 pitchers in the whole game, something they couldn't have done in the first round.