Israel 2, South Korea 1 (10 Innings)
The Israeli side showed that they are more than just a qualifying round winner making up the numbers in the WBC by beating a strong South Korean side consisting of major leaguers and players from the Korea Baseball Organization, a solid league in its own right. Israel being a serious contender in the WBC may seem crazy until you realize that the roster consists almost entirely of Jewish major and minor leaguers from North America. While some are critical of the WBC's loose nationality requirements, they do allow for a greater number of quality teams in the tournament. Even in the qualifiers last year, only one team (Pakistan, who was eliminated in two mercy-rule losses) truly embarrassed themselves. My advice is to not get too worked up regarding the eligibility issues, you will have a much easier time enjoying the tournament that way.
Now, to the lone Indian who played in the game...
Tyler Krieger (Israel - Game 1, 2B) - 0-3, 1 RBI, 2 BB - While Krieger failed to drive in what would have been the game-winning run in both the eighth and tenth innings, he was still important to Israel's WBC opener victory as his second inning bases-loaded walk drove in the run that allowed the game to go to extra innings. The fact that he played such an important role in a game played mostly by MLB, AAA, and KBO players speaks to both his raw talent and how far along his development is.
Israel 15, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) 7
Israel was back at it soon after their tournament-opening triumph (later Monday US time, day game after a night game local time). Israel dominated much of the game and the mercy rule was nearly invoked in both the seventh and eighth innings. Chinese Taipei held on to force the game to go nine innings, however, and made the result a little more respectable with a four-run bottom of the ninth against Dodgers farmhand Dean Kremer, whose entire professional career consists of twelve appearances last year, evenly split between Low-A Great Lakes and High-Rookie Ogden. Israel now gets a day off before finishing Pool A against the Netherlands. The off day will give them full use of their pitching staff in the finale, except for Game 2 starter Corey Baker, who threw 59 pitches (50 pitches or more equals a minimum of four days of rest, thus effectively making said pitcher unavailable for the rest of the round). Neither of the Tribe's Taiwanese minor leaguers pitched in this game, so the only Indian to play was...
Tyler Krieger (Israel - Game 2, 2B) - 3-5, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 E - Krieger topped his Game 1 effort with a three-hit, three-RBI masterpiece. While his error was costly as it helped prolong Chinese Taipei's three-run sixth inning, he more than made up for it with his bat as well as a catch of a difficult pop fly in the bottom of the ninth for the second out in an inning that seemed to be spiraling out of control for the Israelis (Kremer struck out the next batter to end the game). Yes, I know it's only two games, but seeing how well Tyler is performing against such a high level of competition has me exited for the Akron RubberDucks season if for no other reason than to see him dominate Double-A pitching. While I don't expect to see Krieger in Cleveland until at least 2018, Columbus in 2017 is a legitimate possibility for the player the WBC TV announcers have been describing as the Jewish Carlos Beltran.
While Krieger was the only Indian to play on Monday, he is far from the only member of the Tribe organization to participate in the WBC. Following is a complete list:
LHP Andrew Miller - USA
IF Francisco Lindor - Puerto Rico
C Roberto Perez - Puerto Rico
IF Carlos Santana - Dominican Republic
RHP Joe Colon - Puerto Rico
IF Giovanny Urshela - Colombia
IF Chris Colabello - Italy
LHP Luis Lugo - Italy
IF Tyler Krieger - Israel
RHP Ping-Hsueh Chen - Chinese Taipei
RHP Shao-Ching Chiang - Chinese Taipei
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LHP Bruce Chen - China
The Tuesday night games from Asia (The Netherlands opening their tournament against South Korea in Seoul and Japan and Cuba opening Pool B play in Tokyo) will likely be completed by the time this article posts. Those games, along with Wednesday afternoon's (Tuesday night in the US) game between China and Cuba, will be included in tomorrow's column. So, with day 1 in the books, here are the standings in Pool A:
Israel - 2-0
Netherlands - 0-0
South Korea - 0-1
Chinese Taipei - 0-1
So that wraps up Day 1 of the WBC. We'll see you tomorrow as we continue to go Around the World (Baseball Classic).