The World Baseball Classic Brooklyn Qualifier got underway today with the first two games of the modified double-elimination tournament. There was one really good game and one expected blowout.
Great Britain took a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh inning, but Israel struck back with four runs in the bottom of the seventh to take the lead for good. Great Britain had a rally going in the top of the ninth when the first two batters reached against White Sox minor leaguer Brad Goldberg, but a soft liner and two strikeouts ended the threat and ended the game.
Former Cub Jason Marquis started this game for Team Israel, and he allowed just one run over three innings. More importantly, Marquis only threw 41 pitches, so he’ll be eligible to pitch again later in the qualifier.
Great Britain countered with Rangers minor leaguer Michael Roth, who did get one game in the majors this season and had two cups of coffee with the Angels in 2013 and 2014. Roth also kept Israel to just one run over six innings. Roth threw 78 pitches, so he’s done for the qualifier.
Josh Zeid, who pitched in the majors for the Astros in 2013 and 2014 but is now in the Mets system, relieved Marquis in the fourth inning. Zeid kept the game 1-1 until the seventh, when Great Britain scratched out a run. Mets minor leaguer Champ Stuart led off the inning with a double and scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly. But with Roth out of the game in the bottom of the seventh, Israel pounded reliever Vaughan Harris, who is a veteran of the Australian League, for four runs in the bottom of the inning. Diamondbacks minor leaguer Zach Borenstein and major league veteran Ike Davis contributed RBI singles.
Great Britain did get the first two men on in the ninth when Angels minor leaguer Jordan Serena walked and Indians minor leaguer Todd Isaacs doubled, putting runners on second and third with no outs. But with the tying run at the plate, Goldberg shut down the rally and got the save.
Team Great Britain did get to sing “God Save the Queen” in Times Square last night before the game.
Brazil 10, Pakistan 0 in 7 innings (mercy rule)
Juan Carlos Muniz, a veteran of the 2013 Brazil team, hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning and Brazil had little trouble dispatching massive underdog Pakistan in the opening game of the World Baseball Classic Brooklyn qualifier.
Pakistan managed to keep this game scoreless through two innings, which should be considered a small victory over the underrated Brazilian team, who are managed by Hall of Famer Barry Larkin. But Brazil struck for three runs in the bottom of the third off of Pakistani pitcher Inayat Khan. A big blow was an RBI triple by Yankees minor leaguer Dante Bichette Jr., whose mother is Brazilian (and whose father is, of course, the former Rockies outfielder).
A treat in this game was seeing 15-year-old Eric Pardinho pitch two-thirds of an inning for Brazil. Pardinho was hitting 91-94 mph on the radar gun in this game. I’m sure some scouts noticed.
Despite the game being ended by the mercy rule, you can say that Team Pakistan didn’t embarrass themselves out there. They did well for a team from a country that lacks even one baseball diamond.
So tomorrow at 11 am Central time, Team Israel will take on Team Brazil, with the winner advancing to the tournament finals on Sunday. At 6 pm Central, Great Britain and Pakistan will play with the loser being eliminated from the tournament.