Colombia 4, Canada 1
Colombia continued a strong WBC with yesterday's win over Canada in a game that will likely secure Colombia's spot in the 2021 Classic and probably require Canada to qualify for the next edition of the tournament. The win was in large part the result of big days by Braves righty Julio Teheran, who pitched five innings (not easy to when you're limited to 65 pitches) while allowing only one run on two hits and a walk, and Yankees prospect Donovan Solano, who drove in half of Colombia's runs in a multi-hit effort. Solano's brother, Jhonatan, also had a multi-hit game in which he reached base a third time via walk, scored a run, and drove in another.
Giovanny Urshela (Colombia, 3B) - 1-5, 1 K - While Urshela continued to struggle in the WBC, he did improve on his opener performance with a hit on Saturday. While the possibility of the WBC simply coming at a time when Gio is mired in a slump needs to be kept in mind, seeing him struggle on a team where other prospects are putting up better numbers in an identical setting is somewhat disconcerting. While Colombia still has another game to play in this pool, hoping for Urshela to have his best game of the round against the Dominican powerhouse may be asking a bit much, even for an organization as familiar with the improbable as the Indians.
Venezuela 11, Italy 10
Early in the game, it looked like Venezuela's woes would continue as Italy had a 5-0 lead through four innings, with 2B Daniel Descalso driving in three of the runs. Then Venezuela came back with five runs between the fifth and sixth innings to even the score. Both bullpens then imploded as each team scored five more runs in the final three innings to send the game to extras tied at ten apiece. In the top of the tenth, Venezuelan 3B Martin Prado doubled to center to score 2B Jose Altuve. Padres minor league reliever Jose Castillo (a starter until last season) got the Italians out in order to pick up the save and secure Venezuela their first win of this year's WBC. For Venezuela, this win was huge as it got their World Classic, which had been verging on embarrassing, back on track. Italy, while they didn't win, have served notice to the rest of the nations in the WBC that they are not a pushover. They staged a comeback for the ages to defeat Mexico and gave a Venezuelan team playing with their backs to the wall all they could handle.
Chris Colabello (Italy, 1B) - 0-4,1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K - While Colabello did not match his stellar performance from Italy's opening win against Mexico, he did reach base via walk in the seventh and drive in a run during the Italians' final rally in the bottom of the ninth on a groundout. Colabello's Classic, all things considered, has been a solid one, especially considering that he managed to still be productive on a hitless night in which he was the batter responsible for the inning-ending out in both the first and third frames.
Dominican Republic 7, United States 5
Staying on the subject of five run leads wasted, we now turn our attention to the most highly-anticipated matchup of the First Round of this year's World Baseball Classic: Team USA versus the Dominican Republic in Miami. In the middle of the fifth inning, the Americans led 5-0. What followed was some very bad pitching by pitchers capable of better (including Indians reliever Andrew Miller, see below for more details). While better US pitching would've led to a different result, it is important to acknowledge the seemingly invincible mix of talent and effort that has made the Dominicans the clear favorite to win this tournament. A country with that much talent that wants the WBC title that badly is hard to defeat.
Carlos Santana (Dominican Republic, starting 1B) - 2-4, 1 RBI, 2 K - Santana improved his offensive performance significantly from Game 1 and had a huge day at the plate before being pulled for pinch-runner Mel Rojas Jr. in the eighth inning. While many fans are concerned about Carlos' lengthy absence from the team for the WBC, there seems to be little doubt as to whether he will be firing on all cylinders when he does return to the team late in spring training, probably following the final four in Los Angeles.
Andrew Miller (United States, RP) - L (0-1), BS (1), 0.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R (all earned), 2 K, 2 HR allowed, 1 HBP - The less said about this effort, the better. The real question is: Is it too early to panic? As a Team USA fan, the answer is no. The perfect time to panic is immediately, if not sooner. While the US team may still salvage a spot in Pool F, failure to advance is a very real possibility and needing to qualify for 2021 is still on the table. As an Indians fan, the answer is clearly yes, it is too soon to panic. The reason spring training is so long is that the pitchers need the work Also, keep in mind that it is not like Miller is way behind the rest of the Tribe bullpen in terms of getting ready for the season. Heck, Cody Allen's not pitching like himself yet. It's only March 12th (the WBC-induced early start to camp this year makes it easy to forget that) and Opening Day is still a few weeks away. Unfortunately for Andrew Miller, he is in the position of pitching meaningful games while he's in the process of getting prepared for the season, and it was noticeable as he did not locate very well, left several pitches out over the plate and the Dominican team made him and Team USA pay.
Puerto Rico 9, Mexico 4
Puerto Rico improved their Pool D record to 2-0 by beating a Mexican team who do not appear to have recovered from the shock of their pool-opening loss to Italy yet. While the mental state of the host team certainly factored into this result, it is also clear that Puerto Rico is the team to beat in this pool. They are not only 2-0, but have outscored their opponents 20-4. That is dominance.
Francisco Lindor (Puerto Rico, SS) - 3-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI - Whatever mini-slump Lindor was in during his first few games with the Puerto Rican team, he''s out of it now. Lindor was in midseason form on Saturday in Guadalajara as he combined a solid effort in the field with an incredible one at the plate. His first inning homer was an absolute bomb to right field that practically cleared the big, tall banners standing upright around the outfield. Lindor is another Indian regarding whom there should be no concern about the effect of the WBC on his readiness for Opening Day.
Joe Colon (Puerto Rico, RP) - H (1), 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 K - Colon had a solid start to his WBC as he got two outs, including a strikeout, while allowing only one hit. While it was a short outing, any playing time he can get in such a competitive environment against the caliber of hitting he is facing in the WBC can only be good for his development. His strikeout with a changeup on a 3-2 count was beautiful.
Israel 4, Cuba1
Israel just keeps steamrolling their opposition in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. This is not a fluke. This is not a Cinderella story. The Israeli baseball team is for real and very well could be in Los Angeles to play in the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium. Much like their First Round game against Australia, the Cuban side got all of their runs on one home run from LF Alfredo Despaigne. Unfortunately for Cuba, it was a solo shot instead of a grand slam on Saturday. Israel will return to the field on Monday to face the Netherlands in a Pool A rematch while the Cuban nine will play next on Tuesday in a highly anticipated Pool B rematch with Samurai Japan.
Tyler Krieger (Israel,2B) - 0-2, 2 BB (1 intentional) - While Krieger failed to get a hit in the Second Round opener, he did reach base twice via walk, one of them intentional. He hasn't been doing a lot with the bat, but he's been walking and getting on base at a great clip this entire tournament while playing a good second base in the process.
STANDINGS - First Round
Dominican Republic - 2-0
United States - 1-1
Colombia - 1-1
Canada - 0-2
Puerto Rico - 2-0
Venezuela - 1-1
Italy - 1-1
Mexico - 0-2
STANDINGS - Second Round
Israel - 1-0
Japan - 0-0
Netherlands - 0-0
Cuba - 0-1
That's all for day 6 of the WBC. Join us tomorrow for a recap of Day 7, including the conclusion of the North American First Round pools (barring one or both pools needing to play a tiebreaker game on Monday) and the Second Round opener for Japan and the Netherlands.