Chaos reigns as Group A finishes up play with no clear winner.
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 had a great game today with Nicaragua and Israel. And we had a game between Great Britain and Canada that was. . . let’s just call it not-so-great.
Pool A—Taichung, Taiwan
Here are the final standings for Pool A after the round-robin.
Chinese Taipei 2-2
This was what we were worried about yesterday and it came to pass after Cuba beat Chinese Taipei and Italy upset the Netherlands.
Cuba was able to tune out the very loud and enthusiastic Taiwanese crowd and beat Chinese Taipei, 7-1. Cuba scored four in the first inning and two in the second to put this game away early. Erisbel Arruebarrena and Yoán Moncada both homered for Cuba. Moncada was 3 for 4 with a double and the home run.
So that set up potential chaos in the final game between the Netherlands and Italy. Chadwick Tromp gave the Netherlands a lead with a solo home run in the third inning off of Matt Harvey.
But that would be all that Harvey would allow over four innings. Meanwhile, Mike Piazza’s Team Italy exploded for six runs in the fourth inning off reliever Mike Bolsenbroek, who pitched in the Phillies system from 2008 to 2010. Cubs outfielder Ben DeLuzio had an RBI single in that six-run fourth. Royals infielder Nicky Lopez hit a two-run triple.
The Brewers’ Sal Frelick, a top 100 prospect, had three hits in this game.
After that, Italy used five relievers, each for one inning, to shut down the Netherland the rest of the way.
So that left the five-way tie in Group A and that means we go to the tiebreakers. Since head-to-head record is meaningless in a five-way tie, the second tiebreaker is runs allowed divided by outs recorded. By that standard, Cuba was named the Group A winner and Italy was the second team to advance. Poor Chinese Taipei finished last and will have to qualify for the next tournament.
If you want to know why runs allowed and not run differential or runs scored is the tiebreaker, the WBC uses the international rules. And the international rules are that way because they don’t want powerhouse teams running up the score against poorer countries. In something like the Asian Games, Japan could easily put up 30 runs against a team like Sri Lanka, and the World Baseball Softball Confederation thinks that kind of a result is not helpful to the development of the game in emerging countries.
If you want more details on tiebreakers, this is a helpful article.
The Red Sox and Chinese Taipei’s Yu Chang was named the Group MVP despite playing for the last-place team.
Pool B—Tokyo, Japan
The clock seems to have struck midnight for the Cinderella Czechs as they gave up five runs in the bottom of the first inning and they were beaten by Korea, 7-3. Tommy Edman hit a two-run single in the first inning and Ha-Seong Kim hit two solo home runs in this game. Korean pitchers struck out a WBC-record 18 batters.
The Czech Republic’s Matej Mensik hit a two-run double in the seventh.
Meanwhile, Japan continues to look like the favorite that they are as they finished pool play 4-0 with a 7-1 win over Australia. The win clinches first place in Pool B and a second-round matchup with Italy. Japan outscored their opponents 38-8 over their four games in pool play.
Shohei Ohtani hit a three-run home run in the first inning and Japan never looked back. Meanwhile, Yoshinobu Yamamoto allowed no runs and just one hit over four innings. He struck out eight and walked no one.
Brewers prospect Alex Hall led off the bottom of the ninth with a home run for Australia to break up the shutout.
Pool A finishes overnight when Australia takes on the Czech Republic at 10pm Central time on FS2. Later, Korea will close out the group against China at 5am on FS2.
If Australia wins, then they will finish second in the group and will advance to the second round for the first time ever in WBC play. Then the game between China and Korea will decide who finishes last in the group.
However, if the Czech Republic beats Australia, that opens things up for a three-way tie for second if Korea beats China. Then we’d go to that “runs allowed divided by outs” tiebreaker. As far as I can tell, that favors Australia at the moment. But obviously, high-scoring games in either of these contests could change that.
The team that finishes second in this group will play Cuba in the second round.
Pool C—Phoenix, Arizona
Team USA wasn’t dominating, but they did handily dispatch of Great Britain 6-2 in their first game of 2023 World Baseball Classic tournament last night.
Great Britain got off to an early lead when Trayce Thompson hit a solo home run off of Adam Wainwright in the top of the first inning. Team USA took the lead in the bottom of the third inning when Nolan Arenado doubled home Paul Goldschmidt and then Kyle Tucker singled him home.
The US put the game away in the fourth inning when Kyle Schwarber hit a three-run home run.
Cubs prospect BJ Murray Jr. was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. But he did make a nice play at third base on defense.
Earlier today, Great Britain took the field again and were walloped by Canada, 18-8 in a game that ended after seven innings because of the mercy rule. The 26 runs scored in this game is a WBC record.
Great Britain scored three runs off of Canada starter Cal Quantrill in the top of the first inning. But Canada struck back with five runs in the the bottom of the inning, Twins prospect Edouard Julien homered on the first pitch he saw to lead off the bottom of the first.
Tyler O’Neill was 4 for 4 with a double and two walks.
Cubs’ minor league outfielder Owen Caissie went 2 for 5 with three RBI and this massivve home run.
Owen Caissie tacks on another for Canada!— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 12, 2023
The @Cubs' No. 13 prospect blasts a homer in his #WorldBaseballClassic debut. pic.twitter.com/7eH5fI8DYN
Cub Jared Young was 0 for 3 with three walks for Canada. B.J. Murray was 1 for 2 with a double and two walks for Great Britain.
Tonight at 9pm Central, Team USA will play Team Mexico on FS1. Nick Martinez will start for the US and Patrick Sandoval will start for Mexico. That game at Chase Field is sold out.
Pool D—Miami, Florida
The Dominican Republic came into the WBC as the favorite to win the entire thing. But the Dominicans hit a snag as they were beaten by Venezuela, 5-1 in their first game of pool play last night.
Martín Pérez started for Venezuela and allowed one run over 3 1⁄3 innings. In contrast, Dominican starter Sandy Alcantara surrendered three runs over 3.2 innings, including a solo home run to Anthony Santander.
Santander had the home run, a triple and a great catch in right field. All those highlights are here.
Our own Sara Sanchez was in attendance at this game and had a great write-up of both the game and the experience.
Earlier today, Team Israel rallied late off of Jonathan Loáisiga to stop Nicaragua, 3-1.
Reds minor leaguer Steven Leyton doubled home Sandy Bermudez in the fifth inning to give Nicaragua a 1-0 lead. It looked like that lead would hold as Nicaragua called upon their most-accomplished pitcher, Loáisiga, to finish out the game in the eighth inning. But Spencer Horwitz had an RBI single and Garrett Stubbs hit a two-run double off of Loáisiga to take the lead for Israel.
This was a key play in this inning when Ryan Lavarnway took out Nicaragua catcher Melvin Novoa, breaking up a potential inning-ending double play before Stubbs came to bat. The slide was ruled legal and it does appear to be the correct call.
The Cubs’ Matt Mervis was 1 for 3 with a walk for Israel.
Going on right now, Venezuela and Puerto Rico are facing off on FS2. The winner will be in a commanding position to advance to the next round. Sara Sanchez will have another report on that game.