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WBC 2017: Netherlands, Japan Make Final 4

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And Javier Baez made an amazing defensive play at second base for Puerto Rico.

Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Early Wednesday morning (US time), the Cinderella story of Israel’s World Baseball Classic team came to an end when they lost to Japan 8-3 at the Tokyo Dome in front of a partisan Japanese crowd of 43,197.

Israel’s Josh Zeid threw four scoreless innings and the game went to the sixth in a 0-0 deadlock before Japan scored five runs off Dylan Axelrod and Zack Thornton. Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh homered in that inning. Later Japan pushed across three more runs to make it 8-0, which turned out to be important because Israel scored three in the top of the ninth. Israel scored those three runs with only one out, and had two runners on base, a much different game if it’s only 5-3.

Give credit to Israel, which had a Cubs connection with Sam Fuld and Jason Marquis on the roster, for putting together a competitive team that defeated Korea, Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands in Seoul and Cuba in Tokyo. Here’s a interesting story by Bob Nightengale of USA Today about how the Israel team was put together.

Japan’s win puts them in the finals along with the Netherlands as those were the top two finishers in the Tokyo pool. One of those teams will play an exhibition game against the Cubs Saturday at Sloan Park — which one has not yet been determined. (The other will play the Diamondbacks at Talking Stick.) Those games are to keep the two teams in practice while the other two finalists are determined in San Diego.

You have undoubtedly seen the “no-look” tag made by Cubs infielder Javier Baez Tuesday night in San Diego for Team Puerto Rico, but here it is again:

Javy being Javy! Puerto Rico defeated the Dominican Republic 3-1 in the first game in the San Diego pool Tuesday evening. Wednesday night in San Diego, it’ll be Venezuela against the United States. That game will begin at 8 p.m. CT. It’s televised on MLB Network and you can also watch on MLB.com (you will need a MLB.tv subscription to watch online).

The WBC is fun and has produced some compelling and entertaining baseball. You should definitely watch.