WBC Update: Half of second round is set

Updated: March 10, 2017

Pool A and Pool B have completed play and Japan, Israel, the Netherlands and Cuba are moving on to the second round. The big story has been Israel’s surprising run. In retrospect, maybe we should have saw this coming as they have some veteran minor league players (Cody Decker, Zach Borenstein), prospects (Tyler Krieger, Scott Burcham) and major league veterans (Ike Davis, Sam Fuld) on their team. On the other hand, they beat everyone in this bracket including the Netherlands who are loaded with actual current stars like Didi Gregorious, Jonathan Schoop and Xander Bogaerts. Pitching matters, hitting matters, but luck matters most of all.

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I think that crown goes to the Japan squad who stormed through their Pool and are now the home team once again for the second round. The Japanese crowd has shown up big time for the home squad with unique songs for every player and tons of excitement. Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh was the star of the first round, but give credit to Norichika Aoki as well for some outstanding plays in the field. Something that fans of the Mariners did not recognize whatsoever.

Cuba and the Netherlands are the other two teams advancing to Pool E. They will play in the round robin format once again starting on Saturday with Cuba taking on Israel. With all due respect to Korea, this will be the hardest challenge for Team Israel to date and could be our first chance to see what this team is really made of.

Then on Sunday we get Japan vs. the Netherlands and this game should be awesome. We’ve seen some weird things from the Netherlands like putting the best shortstop on the planet, Andrelton Simmons at DH for a game, but overall “honkbal” has been great thus far. The Japanese crowd will be wild for this one.

On the other half of the world, Pool C and Pool D started last night. There was a wild game between host country Mexico and Italy. The Italians were the home team for this one and in their last chance of the game scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth to walk off with a 10-9 win.

The Mexican fans were left stunned in their seats and now Mexico has a real challenge ahead of them as they must go undefeated against Puerto Rico and Venezuela if they hope to advance. The Italian team did all their damage against MLB players as well as they tagged Yovani Gallardo for four runs, Joakim Soria for an unearned run and Toronto closer Roberto Osuna for five with Oliver Perez giving up the game winning hit. The Mexican bullpen was something that we keyed in as something that we liked about them, but that backfired quickly.

Venezuela and Puerto Rico play Friday night in what should be a good game. Puerto Rico is the home team and are a +140 underdog.

In the monster pool aka Pool C, the Dominicans stomped all over the Canadians 9-2. That kind of thing happens when you start Ryan Dempster who hasn’t pitched in the majors in four years. This team is just ridiculously stacked with Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Manny Machado, Jose Reyes, Adrian Beltre and Carlos Martinez. Jose Bautista went yard in this game as well. The DR plays next on Saturday against the United States which should be awesome.

Finally, the United States makes their WBC debut tonight against Colombia. They are a ginormous -930 favorite in this one. Jose Quintana will start for the Colombians against Chris Archer, but the reason for that line is the lineup. Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Buster Posey, Daniel Murphy, Giancarlo Stanton and so much more. This team is ridiculous and the US looks determined to finally grab their first WBC title.

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