Canada vs. Mexico
Tomorrow, no one is going to be talking about Canada's impressive 10-3 victory in the World Baseball Classic. This game will be remembered for the ugly brawl which will likely go down among the worst baseball fights of the last forty years.
Leading 9-3 in the top of the ninth inning, Canadian catcher (and former Cubs farmhand) Chris Robinson executed a perfect drag bunt single to lead off the inning. Replays clearly showed Mexican third baseman Luis Cruz gesturing to pitcher Arnold Cruz to hit the next batter in the ribs. After Rene Tosoni got out of the way of an inside fastball, home plate umpire Brian Gorman warned both benches. Leon then drilled Tosoni with the next pitch, which caused both benches to empty.
Several punches were thrown by both sides and Canadian outfielder Tyson Gillies threw Alfredo Aceves to the ground, after which Aceves chased after Gillies and slugged him in his back. Tosoni was drilled in the face with a water bottle thrown from the stands. After order was restored once, the fight started up once again, although the second fight was ended rather quickly.
The win overshadowed a remarkable Canadian effort, just one day after losing to Italy via the mercy rule. Canada jumped all over Mexican starter Marco Estrada in the first inning. Back-to-back out-out singles by Tyson Green and Joey Votto were followed by an RBI double by Justin Morneau, a two-run single by Michael Saunders and an RBI single by Robinson before Mexico retired another batter. Adam Loewen ended the inning by grounding into a double-play in which Robinson attempted a hard but legal take-out slide at second base.
Mexico scored once in the bottom of the inning on a Joey Votto error. But Canadian starter Chris Leroux limited the damage and didn't give up another run in the three innings he pitched. Leroux got the win after giving up one unearned run on two hits. He walked one and struck out four.
But Leroux gave way to Andrew Albers to start the fourth inning and Albers let Mexico back in the game with three singles to start the inning. On the third single, Karim Garcia tried to score from second base but was thrown out at the plate after a violent, but once again legal, collision with Chris Robinson. That would prove costly as the next batter, shortstop Gil Velazquez, doubled, scoring Edgar Gonzalez. Eduardo Arredondo then hit a sacrifice fly to get Mexico to within a run.
That would be the last run Mexico would score against the Canadian pitching staff, however. Albers settled down after that for two scoreless innings, followed by two more scoreless innings by Trystan Magnuson and one by John Axford to end the game.
Meanwhile, Canada extended their lead with a run in the sixth inning, two in the seventh and two in the eighth inning to make the score 9-3. Morneau had an RBI double in the seventh and an RBI single in the eighth.
It was then that Robinson started the ninth with a bunt single, leading 9-3 but with run differential a potential tie-breaker in the tournament. After the brawl, Leon, Tosoni, Aceves, Arredondo, Pete Orr, Oliver Perez and Canadian reliever Jay Johnson were all ejected, along with Mexican manager Rick Renteria.
A walk loaded the bases and a Cale Iorg sac fly ended the scoring at 10-3.
Justin Morneau was 4 for 5 with two doubles. Michael Saunders was 4 for 4 with two doubles and a walk. Third baseman Taylor Green was 3 for 5 and catcher Robinson was 2 for 3 with a sacrifice bunt.
The loss drops Mexico to 1-2 and eliminates from the tournament, as even if Canada and the United States both finished at 1-2, there is no scenario left where Mexico wins the tiebreaker. Canada advances to the second round with a win over the United States or a US loss to Italy and a Canadian loss to the US of less than ten runs.
Dominican Republic vs. Spain
The Dominican Republic took an early big lead over the underdog Spanish team, but then had to hang on for dear life to notch a 6-3 victory in the first round of the World Baseball Classic.
The game looked like a laugher early as the powerful Dominican lineup jumped all over Cubs minor league pitcher Yoanner Negrin for two runs in the second inning and three in the third. In the second inning, the two runs scored on singles by Nelson Cruz and Ricardo Nanita. In the third inning, Negrin got in trouble after a lead-off walk to Jose Reyes and a one-out RBI double by Robinson Cano. Negrin then intentionally walked Edwin Encarnacion, but loaded the bases by unintentionally walking Hanley Ramirez.
Negrin exited with the bases-loaded and one out for former Padres minor-leaguer Nick Schumacher. He was greeted by Cruz's second RBI single in two innings. After a Carlos Santana ground out, the Dominican Republic had a 5-0 lead and looked to be cruising to an easy victory.
Spain was held scoreless for the first six innings. The first four were pitched by Twins starter Samuel Deduno, who held Spain to four singles in picking up the victory. He struck out five and didn't walk anyone.
Spain got their first run of the tournament in the seventh inning when Cano tried to make a glove scoop and flip on an Engel Beltre bunt and ended up whiffing completely, which allowed catcher Salomon Manriquez to score from second base. But the Dominican Republic got the run right back in the top of the eighth inning with a solo home run by Carlos Santana.
The Dominicans seemingly had a comfortable 6-1 lead entering the bottom of the ninth. And Astros reliever Jose Veras didn't look like he'd have any problems either, striking out two of the first thee batters of the inning, only hitting Manriquez with one out. But with victory one out away, Veras allowed back-to-back singles to Daniel Figueroa and Engel Beltre, which made the score 6-2. Veras then hit Paco Figueroa to load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate.
Dominican manager Tony Pena then pulled Veras for Fernando Rodney. (Who is going to pitch with his cap on backwards pretty soon.) Rodney walked Barbaro Canizares to make it 6-3 and bring DH Rafael Alvarez to the plate as the winning run. But Rodney struck out Alvarez to end the game and collect the save.
Robinson Cano was 3 for 5 with a double. Nelson Cruz was 2 for 4. Engel Beltre was 2 for 5 for Spain and catcher Salomon Manriquez was 2 for 2 with a walk.
Cuba vs. Chinese Taipei
The Cubans took whatever anger they had over their loss to the Netherlands by crushing Chinese Taipei, 14-0 in a game ended after seven inning because of the mercy rule. The loss eliminates Chinese Taipei from the tournament.
Cuba got off to an early lead on a booming two-run home run in the bottom of the first by DH Frederich Cepeda and never looked back. They extended the lead to 6-0 with a four-run fourth inning, highlighted by a three-run opposite-field home by right fielder Yasmany Tomas.
Meanwhile, Cuban starter Danny Betancourt dominated the Chinese Taipei lineup with six scoreless innings. He allowed three hits, all singles, and walked two. He struck out three. No Chinese Taipei runner got past second base all game.
Cuba put the game away with an eight-run sixth inning. The big blows were a three-run double by second baseman Jose Fernandez along with back-to-back home runs by first baseman Jose Abreu and left fielder Alfredo Despaigne. The two teams then played out a scoreless seventh inning until the mercy rule could be applied.
Chinese Taipei starter Ching-Lung Lo took the loss. He gave up two runs on two hits over 2.2 innings. Lo walked one and struck out one. All five Chinese Taipei pitchers were charged with allowing at least one run.
Cuba had fourteen hits, eight of them for extra bases.
Cuba now takes on the loser of tonight's Japan/Netherlands clash. The winner of that game will advance to San Francisco and the loser will be eliminated. If that team is the Netherlands, Manager Hensley Meulens has some bulletin board material as Cuban manager Victor Mesa said of the Dutch, "I don't think they're a very good team, to be honest" in his post-game comments following the Netherlands 6-2 victory in the first game of the second round.
The United States takes on Italy at eight pm central tonight, after the Puerto Rico/Venezuela game going on as I write this. The Netherlands and Japan play at 5 am tomorrow morning, Chicago time.
Please feel free to use this thread to discuss tonight's games.