By Juan C. Rodriguez
MIAMI GARDENS—David Wright has stroked his share of big hits while wearing a Mets uniform. None compare to the one he got Tuesday with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth donning red, white and blue.
Wright’s soft liner down the right-field line brought home two runs and gave Team USA a 6-5 walk-off win over Puerto Rico in a World Baseball Classic elimination game at Dolphin Stadium. A modest, but enthusiastic crowd of 13,224 was on its feet and erupted as Brian Roberts and Jimmy Rollins crossed with the tying and winning runs three hours and 54 minutes after Ted Lilly threw the first pitch. [...] Continue Reading »
What Happened: Venezuela got a solid pitching performance from Felix Hernandez and even better work from four relievers to shut out Puerto Rico 2-0 to earn a spot in the semifinals. Cuba stayed alive with a 7-4 win over Mexico in an elimination game.
The Stars: Hernandez struck out seven, although he did allow four walks and four hits in 4 2/3 innings. Venezuelan relievers Carlos Vasquez, Enrique Hernandez, Ramon Ramirez and Felix Rodriguez combined to allow only one hit in the final 4 1/3 innings. Ramon Hernandez homered for Venezuela.
By Kirk Kenney
SAN DIEGO—Cuba manager Higinio Velez preached patience after the team’s World Baseball Classic loss on Sunday to Japan.
“Nobody will win this Classic without any lost games,” Velez said through an interpreter. “We have really good experience, we want to win, and we already are psychologically being prepared for tomorrow. Our fans need to stay calm and trust in us.”
Velez was good to his word in Monday night’s 7-4 victory over Mexico before 9,329 at Petco Park.
On Wednesday night, Cuba will play an elimination game against the loser of Tuesday night’s Japan-Korea game.
By Kirk Kenney
SAN DIEGO—Baseball misspoken here.
The World Baseball Classic was created to bring cultures together, but something’s been lost in the translation.
Fortunately, it wasn’t a game.
Press conferences here have been almost comical on several occasions when answers from managers and players haven’t remotely matched up to the questions posed to them.
When it comes to misinterpreted rules, however, it is no laughing matter.
Just such a misunderstanding cost Cuba some members of its pitching staff in Monday night’s game against Mexico. [...] Continue Reading »
Venezuela became the first team to advance to the World Baseball Classic semifinals with a 2-0 win over Puerto Rico on Monday night. Venezuela starter Felix Hernandez struck out seven in 4 2/3 shutout innings to lead Venezuela.
Puerto Rico will now face the U.S. in an elimination game with the winner moving on to the semifinals.
This installment: March 8-13
Previous installment: Feb. 28-March 7
We’re a week or two away from the annual spring purging, where players are released left and right, but this edition of transactions at least brings news of minor league assignments for a handful of top-shelf prospects (Yonder Alonso, Andrew Brackman, Ross Detwiler), as well as new homes for free agent stragglers (Tim Raines Jr., Chad Cordero).
Released: RHP Anthony Lerew
Boston Red Sox
Optioned to Double-A: SS Argenis Diaz
Signed: 3B Esteban German
Released: RHP Jim Henderson
Optioned to Triple-A: OF Richie Robnett
German’s on-base percentages for the Royals charted a steep decline, falling from .422 in ’06 to .351 to .303 last season, a trend that cost him his roster spot when Kansas City signed Juan Cruz. Even though the Cubs are short Mark DeRosa and Ronny Cedeno this year, they still have enough infield depth (Mike Fontenot, Aaron Miles, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Theriot) so that German may not be a shoo-in for Opening Day.
By Kirk Kenney
SAN DIEGO — Korea used the long ball early and small ball late — real late — in the second round of the World Baseball Classic for an 8-2 victory over Mexico on Sunday night in front of 22,337 at Petco Park.
Mexico took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a two-run single by Augie Ojeda off Korea starting pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu.The rest of the game belonged to the Koreans, who hit three home runs on the way to a 4-2 lead through five innings and used a bunt, double steal and sacrifice fly, among other things, in a four-run eighth.
The highly-regarded Ryu — the winning pitcher in last year’s gold medal victory over Cuba at the Beijing Olympics — was actually the least effective of six Korean pitchers in the game. The left-hander allowed five hits and two runs in 2 2/3 innings with a walk and three strikeouts.
[...] Continue Reading »
What Happened: It was a great story while it lasted, but the Netherlands’ improbable run through the World Baseball Classic ended with a 9-3 loss to Team USA. The three runs for the Netherlands equaled their best performance of the tournament, and Bryan Engelhardt hit the team’s first and only home run of the tournament.
Englehardt’s home run and his slow exit from the box as he watched the ball’s flight apparently enraged U.S. reliever Matt Lindstrom who immediately buzzed Vince Rooi with a pitch that sailed behind Rooi’s butt. Both benches emptied, but no punches were thrown. Lindstrom gave up another run before leaving the game with a sore shoulder. He joins Dustin Pedroia (oblique) and Chipper Jones (side) on the U.S. injury list.
By Juan C. Rodriguez
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla.—Team USA overcame more injuries and an irked Netherlands team to stay alive Sunday in the World Baseball Classic at Dolphin Stadium.
Already without Dustin Pedroia (oblique), Team USA scratched Chipper Jones from the starting lineup after he re-injured his oblique. The Americans did not want for offense as Pedroia replacement Brian Roberts went 3 for 3 and was a homer shy of the cycle. Adam Dunn homered as did Jimmy Rollins as part of a four-RBI performance in the 9-3 victory.
With the win in front of 11,059 fans, Team USA clinched a Tuesday meeting with the loser of Monday’s Venezuela-Puerto Rico game. With a spot in the semifinals at stake, manager Davey Johnson’s bunch will go into that contest short-handed. Because Chipper Jones already played in the second round, Team USA cannot replace him. [...] Continue Reading »
The U.S. will play another day. Team USA eliminated the Netherlands 9-3 in Pool 2′s loser’s bracket. U.S. starter Roy Oswalt threw four shutout innings, while Jimmy Rollins went 3-for-3 with a triple and a grand slam. Recent callup Brian Roberts added three hits.
But the U.S. also continued to be bit by the injury bug. After losing second baseman Dustin Pedroia with an oblique injury, Team USA announced that Chipper Jones is also leaving the team because of strained side muscle, then Matt Lindstrom had to leave Sunday’s game with an injury.
By Kirk Kenney
SAN DIEGO—Hundreds of Japan fans banged thundersticks together in Sunday afternoon’s World Baseball Classic game against Cuba, creating a concussive effect that made the crowd seem much larger than the 20,179 actually in attendance at Petco Park.
A few Cuba fans countered with cowbells.
Thundersticks outnumbered cowbells about 100 to 1, so Cuba definitely could have used more cowbell.
And a lot less Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Matsuzaka allowed five hits, struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter over six shutout innings in Japan’s 6-0 win over Cuba in the second round of the WBC.
What Happened: The Netherlands gave Venezuela a scare, but the Dutch team’s lack of offense was their undoing in a 3-1 loss. The Netherlands has now scored seven runs in five games. In the nightcap, Puerto Rico shocked the U.S. by jumping on Jake Peavy for six runs in a 11-1 win. The game was called after seven innings because of the WBC mercy rule.
The Stars: If Ivan Rodgriguez is trying to convince a major league team that he could help them, he’s making a pretty convincing case. Rodriguez went 3-for-4 with two doubles, while Carlos Beltran was 3-for-3 with a home run. Felipe Lopez also homered for Puerto Rico. For the U.S., Adam Dunn (2-for-3, double) and Brian McCann (2-for-3, double) had four of the team’s six hits. Miguel Cabrera homered for Venezuela, which was held to three hits by the Dutch pitching staff. Sidney Ponson (5 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) and relievers Rob Cordemans (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R) and Alexander Smit (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R) did their job for the Netherlands.
The Prospects: Mariners prospect Greg Halman is having a brutal World Baseball Classic. Halman went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts on Saturday, which lowered his WBC stats to 1-for-11 with nine strikeouts.
BY MIKE BERARDINO
MIAMI GARDENS—Davey Johnson rushed back from his stepson’s wedding for this?
Puerto Rico didn’t just beat Team USA to open the second round of the World Baseball Classic. It laid an 11-1 whipping on the stunned Americans before a largely appreciative crowd of 30,595 at Dolphin Stadium on Saturday night. [...] Continue Reading »
In the first World Baseball Classic, the U.S. failed to make it out of the second round. If they are going to avoid repeating that embarrassing exit, they’ll have to do it the hard way.
Puerto Rico knocked off the U.S. 11-1 in a game called after seven innings thanks to the mercy rule. Jake Peavy gave up six runs in only two innings while Javier Vasquez held the U.S. to one run in five innings. With the loss, the U.S. will now have to beat the Netherlands, which lost to Venezuela 3-1 in the first game on Saturday, then beat the loser of the Puerto Rico-Veneuzela game to make it to the semifinals.
When the World Baseball Classic second round gets underway this weekend, it will feel like two different tournaments. On one hand, you have three teams with plenty of big league talent that is busy playing in their own national leagues. On the other hand, you have three teams filled with big leaguers.
With that in mind, we’re previewing the two different pools in different ways.
If you’re a fan of under-the-radar talent, this weekend’s Pool 1 play will be the best baseball you may see all year. While Pool 2 will see three major league heavy teams and the Cinderella team of the tournament, the Netherlands, face off for two semifinal spots, three teams with multiple major league caliber players who are not playing in the big leagues will battle in Pool 1. To get you ready, here are some names from Pool 1 to pay attention to this weekend. [...] Continue Reading »
What Happened: For three innings it was close but once Cuba got its offense going, Mexico didn’t have a chance. A five-run fourth blew the game open and a nine-run seventh triggered the mercy rule as Cuba beat Mexico 16-4. Both teams advance to the second round, which begins with Pool 2 on Saturday.
The Stars: Freddy Sandoval homered to Team Mexico while the top five hitters in the Cuban lineup all had two or more hits. Cuba’s regular catcher Ariel Pestano got most of the night off, but he hit a three-run home run in his only at-bat of the game.
The Prospects: Second baseman Yuleski Gourriel, 24, hit a fourth-inning two run home run that helped open the floodgates. Switch-hitting left fielder Frederich Cepeda hit a three-run home run while 23-year-old center fielder Yoennis Cespedes had three hits including a triple.
By Larry Millson
TORONTO—Regardless of the result, both teams were going to Miami for the second round of the World Baseball Classic, but from a confidence standpoint it probably meant more to Team Venezuela.
And with second-round seedings and pride at stake, Team Venezuela defeated Team USA 5-3 before a crowd of 12,358 at Rogers Centre on Wednesday to take first place in Pool C with a 3-1 record.
It means that Venezuela plays the Netherlands, which twice upset and ousted the Dominican Republic from Pool D, in their first game at Dolphins Stadium. Team USA plays Puerto Rico, which won Pool D by defeating the Netherlands 5-0 on Wednesday.
"I don’t think any of us like to lose,” Team USA manager Davey Johnson said. “I mean, it was more of a day that I think everybody was feeling like it’s a day to get some work in, get some at-bats and get some innings in. It’s not a big deal—win or lose, we’ve still got to win two games in Miami. It doesn’t matter whether we’re the one seed or the two seed.” [...] Continue Reading »
What Happened: In a pair of games that didn’t have much meaning, Venezuela beat Team USA 5-3 as the Venezuelans jumped on Jeremy Guthrie for four runs in his two innings of work to win Pool C, while Puerto Rico topped the Netherlands 5-0 to claim the Pool D crown. Puerto Rico went undefeated in its four first-round games.
The Stars: The Blancos were the unexpected stars for the Venezuelans. Leadoff hitter Gregor Blanco doubled and tripled while Henry Blanco doubled and homered. Ryan Braun had three of the U.S.’ seven hits, but Chris Iannetta’s two-run home run in the eighth was the biggest blow for the U.S. Starter Jonathan Sanchez threw four scoreless innings in Puerto Rico’s shutout of the Dutch.
The Prospects: With the U.S., Venezuelans and Puerto Ricans fielding mainly teams of big leaguers, the prospect pickings were slim on Wednesday. Reds minor leaguer Alexander Smit threw a scoreless innings for the Netherlands.
The print edition of BA went to press before the WBC rosters were released, so we needed a feature that would guide print readers without the benefit of rosters. We came up with a national tendencies chart (here for subscribers), compiled through years of covering international baseball.
That tendencies chart looks accurate tonight, after Cuba turned it up in the late innings against Australia. Like an NBA team realizing it’s the fourth quarter and time to play, the Cubans started swinging in the eighth innings. Yulieski Gourriel, 1-for-7 in the Classic ’til now, lined a single to lead off the inning, and pinch-hitter Yosbany Peraza slammed a line-drive, two-run homer off Rich Thompson (Angels) to give Cuba a 5-4 lead. [...] Continue Reading »
OK, which is more unlikely—staying up late to live blog the World Baseball Classic? Or seeing James Beresford get hits off Aroldis Chapman and Pedro Luis Lazo?
It’s close, but the latter is pretty amazing. It’s 4-2 Australia headed to the seventh inning, and while the Aussies beating Cuba wouldn’t be as big of an upset as the Netherlands beating the Dominican Republic twice, it’s a big deal.
When Luke Hughes and Justin Huber—both Futures Game alumni—get the big hits for Australia, OK, if you read BA, you know those guys. Beresford hasn’t quite make our Twins Top 30 Prospects yet, but he’s a guy you will want to get to know after what he has shown tonight. [...] Continue Reading »
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