WBC Updates: Israel, South Korea, Cuba

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Updated: March 7, 2017

Big surprises in the World Baseball Classic as Korea looks to be out of the tournament while Israel should be moving on to the next one. Korea is one of the top international teams and the host team for this round. They were expected to get out of the first round easily, but they ran into Israel in the first game where they lost in extra innings and then got roughed up by the Netherlands in the next game. All the sudden it looks like Korea is out and Israel is in.

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Israel was the only team ranked outside of the top 20 in international rankings to make this tournament and their team is filled with unknowns and journeyman. Retired Jason Marquis is pitching for them, someone called Blake Gailen is hitting third, Josh Zeid is their closer, Ike Davis has been hitting balls for them and the biggest name on the field is either Sam Fuld or Ryan Lavarnway. This is not a great team by any stretch of the imagination, but they beat Korea and then they beat Chinese-Tapei This is just what happens when you have a three-game round robin. Anything can happen.

For Korea, this is a huge disappointment. They’ve scored just one run in two games and now need a miracle to move on to the next round. They would need Israel to beat the Netherlands, Chinese-Tapei to beat the Netherlands and themselves to beat Chinese-Tapei. A three way tie at 1-2. All of that while scoring a ton of runs to give them the tiebreaker. They are already -6 runs in that scenario. So, yeah, they are eliminated.

Korea manager In-Sik Kim called out Tae-Kyun Kim and Dae-Ho Lee after the first game saying “Today, our No. 3 hitter and No. 4 hitter failed their mission. That’s why we had just only one run.” They came back in the second game and scored zero.

In Pool B action, Cuba will look to rebound after their big loss to Japan last night against China. The Cuban bullpen used six pitchers last night and that could come back to haunt them today against China. I wrote this in the preview, but I feel like the travel may have affected them more than other teams. China has made great improvements in baseball over the past eight years and could be poised for an upset here. Cuba is not the powerhouse it once was after losing so many players to defection so this will be one to watch.

The good stuff starts on Thursday when Pool C and Pool D start. For one, the games are going to actually be on TV at a decent time of night instead of 4:30 in the morning like the Pool A and B games have been. For another, the Pool C bloodbath should be exciting. Venezuela, Mexico and Puerto Rico will make for some great baseball.

Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic will kick off Pool D on Thursday against Canada. The DR is the defending champions of this tournament with a ton of All-Stars in Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and more, but Canada has been getting stronger every year. Can they upset? I don’t think so, but after Israel we now know that anything can happen.

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