Stephanie Kollar/IBI

Around The World: March 8, 2017 - Shao-Ching Chiang pitches well in relief for Chinses Taipei

Shao-Ching Chiang made his lone appearance of the WBC yesterday as Tyler Krieger finished up his First Round. Also, seven Indians took the field for their national teams in exhibitions against major league clubs. Read about their performances as well as the utter collapse of non-Japanese Asian baseball, Australia's chances of advancing to the second round and the future of the game in Europe and the Middle East as the IBI's Arthur Kinney takes you Around The World...

Netherlands 6, Chinese Taipei 5

The humbling of non-Japanese Asian baseball is complete.  Both South Korea and Chinese Taipei have failed to advance to the Second Round and will now play the finale of Pool A for the prize of direct qualification for the 2021 WBC.  While the losing country will likely have little trouble winning a qualifier pool which they will probably host, the need to play said qualifier is a burden that neither country expected to face.  What these two teams fear more going into Thursday morning's (US time) matchup, however, is the infamy of failing to automatically qualify in a country that is an international baseball powerhouse and whose fans expect results in major tournaments.

Shao-Ching Chiang (Chinese Taipei, RP) - 4.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R (earned), 1 HBP - Chiang pitched 4.1 innings of solid relief after coming into a mess created by starter Chia-Hao Sung in the fourth inning.  While his efforts kept the Taiwanese side in the game, the offense and backend of the bullpen couldn't hold up their end of the bargain.  Chiang is done for the Classic as he threw 51 pitches and thus will not be available for Chinese Taipei's finale against South Korea.  Interesting Note:  Chiang's WBC ended before five Indians (Miller, Lindor, Perez, Colon, and Urshela) even had the opportunity to take the field in a pre-tournament exhibition game.

Japan 4, Australia 1

Japan, unlike their Asian counterparts in Pool A, are having no trouble in the First Round of this year's WBC.  They dispatched Cuba, their lone serious challenger in the pool, with relative ease in their first game of the pool.  On Wednesday, it took a late inning rally (three runs between the seventh and eighth innings) to defeat an Australian side that looks like it could be another surprisingly good team in this year's tournament.  If Australia can beat China today, their game against Cuba will be for the second spot in the Second round out of Pool B, and a Cuban victory would be far from a safe assumption.

Israel 4, Netherlands 2

Israel survived an eighth-inning scare in which the Netherlands brought the go-ahead run to the plate to beat the Dutch and sweep Pool A.  The results of this pool, with Israel and the Netherlands advancing, are somewhat surprising, even with the lax eligibility requirements factored in.  South Korea and Taiwan not only have long histories of playing baseball at a high level, but also the advantage of the pool being played in Asia.  The most interesting aspect of this unusual result is one that will unfold over the coming years, which is whether it will result in baseball becoming popular in Israel and more popular than it already is in the Netherlands.  The task will be much easier in the Netherlands as the sport already has a foothold there, unlike Israel, and their WBC team has a far more substantial connection to the country it represents than the Israeli side does.

Tyler Krieger (Israel, 2B) - 0-2, 2 BB, 1 K,1 E - While Krieger failed to extend his RBI streak to three, his Game 3 performance was similar to his effort in the opener in the sense that it was marked by good plate discipline.  While many are concerned about not only the risk of injury from playing in the WBC, but also the time away from the MLB club during spring training, playing in the Classic is likely more beneficial to Krieger than spring training would be right now.  He is developing his skills by playing against a higher level of competition in a results-oriented environment, much like winter ball, and, more importantly in my opinion, he is excelling at that level, which can only have a positive effect on his confidence.

STANDINGS

Pool A
Israel - 3-0 (CHAMPIONS)
Netherlands - 2-1 (ADVANCES)
South Korea - 0-2 (ELIMINATED)
Chinese Taipei - 0-2 (ELIMINATED)

Pool B
Japan - 2-0
Cuba - 1-1
China - 0-1
Australia - 0-1

EXHIBITION GAMES

Dominican Republic 10, Pittsburgh Pirates 6

Carlos Santana (Dominican Republic, 1B) - 0-4, 1 BB - While not an impressive outing, he did complete his two exhibition games with the Dominican side without any issues.

New York Yankees 10, Canada 4

No Indians in action.

Colombia 9, Tampa Bay Rays 7

Giovanny Urshela (Colombia, starting 3B) - 0-3 - Urshela should be the regular third baseman for his native country and perhaps this is the spark he needs to propel him to a big season in what may be his last chance in the organization.

Minnesota Twins 3, United States 2

Andrew Miller (United States, RP) - BS, 0.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R (both earned), 1 BB, 1 K - As long as this isn't a preview of coming attractions in the regular season, this outing is nothing to worry about.  Keep in mind he is also breaking in a new glove he's specifically using for the WBC. Either way, the results don't matter until the games are for real.

Puerto Rico 5, San Francisco Giants 6

Francisco Lindor (Puerto Rico, starting SS) - 1-3 - Lindor had a solid day in his first tune-up for the WBC.

Roberto Perez (Puerto Rico, backup C) - 0-2, 1 K - Perez got his work in and avoided any other issues, which is all you can ask for in games like this.

Joe Colon (Puerto Rico, RP) - H, 1 IP, perfect, 1 K - Colon pitched well in his warmup outing for the World Classic.

Oakland Athletics 7, Italy 0

Chris Colabello (Italy, starting 1B) - 0-2, 1 BB, 1 K - Colabello played the majority of the game before being removed for pinch runner Sebastian Poma in the top of the seventh inning.

Venezuela 11, Kansas City Royals 0

No Indians in action.

Arizona Diamondbacks 10, Mexico 4

No Indians in action

That's it for Day 3 of the World Baseball Classic. Day 4 today will see the end of Pool A play in Seoul, the opening games in Pool C (Miami) and Pool D (Guadalajara), and the final four North American exhibition games, including Team USA's final tune-up.  We'll be back tomorrow to recap all of the day''s action.

One last thing, a quick note for all my fellow sports publications nerds out there: The yearbooks ($5 including tax) are in at the Indians Team Shop.


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