It was a busy weekend for the World Baseball Classic, even for the players in it who don’t play for the Phillies. We’re down from Pools A-D to just Pools E and F now, with non-Phillies related Israel (save the unused Kenny Koplove), Cuba, The Netherlands, and Japan moving on in Pool E, and the Phillies-rich Pool F, with the USA (Pat Neshek), the Dominican Republic (Hector Neris), and Puerto Rico moving on, as well as the chance for either Italy (Nick Fanti and Pat Venditte) or Venezuela (Odubel Herrera and Edubray Ramos) to take the final spot today.
Let's recap the weekend action.
USA 3, Colombia 2
- Removing starter Chris Archer from the game did not do America much good. Jorge Alfaro struck out twice but singled, but none of that had to do with Colombia taking a 2-0 lead with three doubles off Mychal Givens in the fifth. Colombia needed this win, joining Canada for a fight for their lives as they started in the nightmarish Pool C with heavyweights Dominican Republic and United States.
- They did not get it.
- The next inning, Team USA tied the game up at 2, and eventually Pat Neshek came in and threw 1.2 innings of scoreless relief, AND THE CROWD WENT WILD. Then the USA won on a walk-off Adam Jones single that the crowd was lukewarm about at best.
Puerto Rico 11, Venezuela 0
- Wha... what in god’s name happened here.
- The Venezuelans were three-hit by Julio Lugo, Geovany Soto, and Joe Jimenez.
- Odubel Herrera had one of Venezuela’s three hits and the bullpen exploded on the back end, giving up nine runs combined in the sixth and seventh inning. The Twins’ Eddie Rosario was a home run short of the cycle for Puerto Rico.
- Sort of expect more offense from a Venezuelan lineup featuring Jose Altuve, Carlos Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Salvaor Perez, and Alcides Escobar. Like, a lot more.
Colombia 4, Canada 1
- Poor Canada’s been something of a punching bag without Joey Votto (or Michael Saunders!!) and stuck in a pool with the tournament’s predicted heavyweights. But getting to see the young, frantic Colombians celebrate was worth the Canadian shame.
- "GET TO THE JORGE ALFARO NEWS," you’re screaming at the computer. Ha ha, calm down. Finally catching (Alfaro had played 1B and DH thus far in the WBC), Alfaro nailed Freddie Freeman as he tried to steal second base, and also went 1-for-4 at the plate.
- "GET TO THE NICK PIVETTA NEWS," you started screaming before I even finished with the Jorge Alfaro stuff. Well, you’ll be pleased to learn that Pivetta had his WBC moment in the sun - which, for a native of the Great White North, can be fatal - and threw four innings of one-run ball. Pivetta was tapped with five hits and struck out one, showing off the talent he absorbed from touching Roy Halladay earlier in spring training.
- "WHY AREN’T YOU TALKING ABOUT SCOTT MATHIESON YET," you continue, and to be honest, he doesn’t even play for the Phillies. He just used to. And in this game, he allowed a run and two hits and committed a throwing error. So. Not great.
Venezuela 11, Italy 10
- Italy was up 5-0 before Venezuela conjured up three runs in the fifth. The two teams traded blows for the rest of the game, with Daniel Descalso, Alcides Escobar, and Salvador Perez figuring prominently. Alex Liddi and Brendan Nimmo had home runs for Italy.
- In the bottom of the ninth, Italy was down 10-8 and thundered to rally with baseball’s sexiest scoring play, the RBI ground-out. A subsequent Gavin Cecchini single with two runners on tied the game and almost won it, but but former Phillie Ender Inciarte nailed Drew Butera at the plate to keep things going in a play that saw Venezuela catcher Salvador Perez and pitcher Francisco Rodriguez helped off the field due to injury.
- The Phillies’ Nick Fanti did not appear, but newest Phillie, acquired by trade with the Mariners, Pat Venditte certainly did! He appeared to silence Venezuela, and did, after we got a Pat Venditte-only update.
- Venditte went on to strike out Miguel Cabrera with a runner on and then picked off the runner to end the inning. In the top of the ninth, he appeared to blow the game by allowing a two-run Sal Perez dinger. Less good.
Dominican Republic 7, USA 5
- The Dominicans did their thing and saw home runs from Manny Machado, Nelson Cruz, and Starling Marte.
- Pat Neshek wasn’t heard from in this one for the States, but Hector Neris got some significant time, throwing 1.1 innings and allowing nothing to occur but an Ian Kinsler strikeout.
- Marte and Cruz’s home runs came in the eighth inning, Cruz’s with two runners on base, off Andrew Miller, who was specifically instructed by the Indians to not throw his slider. He successfully didn’t throw it to Cruz, who made sure America continued to feel bad about itself by giving the D.R. the win.
Dominican Republic 10, Colombia 3
- Things got interesting in this one when, down 3-2 in the eighth, Colombia showed off its scrappy resilience by tying the game. And who was it who delivered the equalizing blow off Fernando Rodney?
Phillies prospect Jorge Alfaro with a clutch home run in the WBC. pic.twitter.com/uJ34mvHpX1— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) March 12, 2017
None other than clear 2018 MVP favorite Jorge Alfaro, who celebrated his defeat of the veteran with some good old fashioned mockery.
(He’s doing the bow and arrow thing Rodney does after saving games).
- Of course, the Dominican Republic stopped farting around after this and, though the game went into the eleventh inning, they scored seven runs off a barrage of offense and Colombian defensive implosions. Nevertheless, though Colombia is now eliminated and Alfaro will return to Phillis camp, Alfaro and his countrymen made quite the impression, taking both the USA and D.R. into extras and aiding in the future of baseball in their country.
USA 8, Canada 0
- Poor Canada had been unceremoniously battered all weekend, and was finally eliminated from the tournament as the USA advanced having won two of three and the Dominican Republic advanced, as well, by tearing a hole in the universe and stepping through it into another world.
- Buster Posey and Nolan Arenado teed off on Canada. Nothing else really mattered. By rules of the tournament, Canada will be absorbed into America’s borders, creating a massively unstable super-continent. Good luck, everyone.
Puerto Rico 9, Italy 3
- Italy stopped scoring after the second inning, but Puerto Rico just kept on going, with Enrique Hernandez of P.R. going 3-for-4 with a triple.
- "SHUT UP AND GET TO THE NICK FANTI STATS," ha ha, okay, sorry. Fanti saw some action this time, allowing two singles in the bottom of the seventh, but getting out of the jam by striking out the Mets’ T.J. Rivera.
Mexico 11, Venezuela 9
- If it weren’t for the five runs Mexico scored off Venezuela starter Yusmeiro Petit in the second, this would have been an even closer game. The offenses turned on in the fifth and everybody started scoring, but in Venezuela’s case, nine runs were somehow too little too late.
- Odubel Herrera went 0-for-2 and was then pinch hit for it Hernan Perez.
All I ask is that Hernan Perez does a bat flip when he pops one up. Is that too much to ask of a guy who's pinch-hitting for Odubel Herrera?— Manny Randhawa (@MannyOnMLB) March 13, 2017
- Venezuela would have advanced in the tournament with a win, but now will play in a tiebreaker today against Pool D rival Italy. Venezuela, Italy, and Mexico all finished in Pool D play with a record of 1-2 (Puerto Rico swept everybody and advanced already), but Venezuela's saving grace was its run differential of 1.11 that beat out Mexico’s (1.12).