I hope some of you caught the game today between Colombia and Mexico. In the first place, it was a terrific game. And second, it was a prime example of what makes the World Baseball Classic great.
WBC Tonight is your daily look at the games from the World Baseball Classic from the previous 24 hours and a look ahead to the next day’s action. You can also use this space as a game thread for any of the WBC action as it happens.
We’re in the middle of almost 48 hours straight of baseball from around the world. There will be a short break overnight tonight, but then the mayhem will begin again. As this article is published, the Dominican Republic is taking on Venezuela, live on FS1. Also, our own Sara Sanchez is attending that game and will have a report.
Remember, the top two teams in each pool advance to the second round and the top four teams automatically qualify for the next WBC. (Which I’m assuming will be in 2027, but that hasn’t been confirmed.) So teams do not want to finish last and have to go through qualifying for the next tournament.
Pool A—Taichung, Taiwan
Pool A is nuts at the moment.
Panama finished pool play at 2-2 with a 2-0 win over Italy. Panama scored their first run on a solo home run by top Dodgers prospect Jose Ramos. Allen Córdoba, who played for the Padres in 2017, had an RBI single for the other Panamanian run.
Four Panama pitchers combined for the five-hit shutout. Harold Arauz, who last pitched for Triple-A Memphis in 2019, started and went four innings. Brewers reliever Javy Guerra got the save.
The win keeps Panama’s hopes of advancing to the second round alive because . . .
Chinese Taipei used their home-field advantage to upset group favorite Netherlands, 9-5 later in the day.
Although the Netherlands jumped off to a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Didi Gregorius singled home Jurickson Profar, Chinese Taipei jumped all over Dutch starter Lars Huijer and reliever (and Astros farmhand) Derek West for five runs in the second inning and never trailed afterwards. Red Sox first baseman Yu Chang hit a grand slam off of West.
Also, I just discovered Huijer was briefly a Cub in 2015. The Cubs traded for him in January, but he then retired a few weeks into Spring Training. I think you can forgive me for missing that one.
With the win, Chinese Taipei moves to the top of Pool A at 2-1. The Netherlands are also 2-1. Both teams can advance with a win in their final game: Chinese Taipei plays Cuba tonight at 10pm Central and then the Netherlands faces Italy at 6am. But, if both teams lose their games, every team in the group will finish with an identical 2-2 record and then it’s all going to go to tiebreakers as to which two teams advance to the second round and which team finishes last and has to qualify next time.
Pool B—Tokyo, Japan
Australia improved to 2-0 in pool play with a 12-2 win over China that ended after seven innings by the mercy rule. Australia needs to win just one of their final two games against Japan (unlikely) or the Czech Republic (likely) to advance to the second round for the first time in WBC history. China has been eliminated from contention and must beat Korea and get help to have any chance to avoid finishing last.
Royals prospect Robbie Glendenning, who homered in Australia’s win over Korea, also hit a two-run home run in this contest.
The Cinderella Czechs gave Samurai Japan a scare when they scored in the top of the first inning off Roki Sasaki, whose fastballs were sitting 101-102 mph. Meanwhile, Czech starter Ondrej Santoria, whose pitches were sitting 70-72 (I don’t know if that’s his fastball or whether he only throws changeups) befuddled the Japanese for two innings. He struck out the first two batters he faced and then got Shohei Ohtani to hit a weak grounder to first. He would later strike out Ohtani in the third inning.
But eventually the Japanese adjusted to Czech pitching and cruised to a 10-2 win. Pinch-hitter Shugo Maki homered for Japan.
Japan now leads the group with a 3-0 record. While they haven’t technically qualified for the next round, there would have to be a very weird series of events for them to not advance. Japan will play their final game against Australia at 5am tomorrow on FS1.
The Czechs fall to 1-1. They take on Korea at 9pm tonight on FS1.
Pool C—Phoenix, Arizona
Pool play in the US began this afternoon with a thriller. Colombia upset Mexico 5-4 in ten innings.
Colombia (and Padres) pitcher Nabil Crismatt held Mexico to just one run over four innings. Colombia couldn’t score off of Dodgers ace Julio Urías over the first four innings, but they jumped on him for three runs in the fifth. Elias Díaz had an RBI double and former Twins farmhand Reynaldo Ramirez hit a two-run home run.
Mexico tied the game 3-3 with a two-run home run by Randy Arozarena in the bottom of the fifth.
Both teams scored in the seventh inning and in the tenth, defense giveth and defense taketh away for Mexico. With one out, third baseman Isaac Paredes made a terrific stop on a scorcher down the line. He couldn’t make the out, but he turned what could have been an RBI double into an infield single. After a failed bunt attempt by Cubs’ prospect Fabian Pertuz, Angels minor leaguer Gustavo Campero hit a grounder to short that Luis Urías bobbled for a run-scoring error.
Meanwhile, Cardinals pitcher Guillermo Zuñinga retired Mexico in the bottom of the tenth for the upset win.
Colombia lost twice in extra innings in the 2017 WBC, so this win must have seemed like justice to them.
Tonight, Team USA takes the field for the first time against Great Britain at 8pm on your local Fox affiliate.
Tomorrow at 2pm, Great Britain plays Canada on FS1.
Pool D—Miami, Florida
Back-to-back runners-up Puerto Rico had no problem beating Nicaragua, 9-1.
Javier Báez was 2 for 4 with a double. Diamondbacks minor leaguer Elian Mirando homerd for Nicaragua’s only run.
Marcus Stroman started for Puerto Rico and allowed the one run over 4.2 innings. He gave up two hits, walked no one and struck out two.
Israel will start their WBC tomorrow with a game against Nicaragua at 11am. That game is on FS2.