The World Baseball Classic has been live for about a week, and the action has not stopped since. As pool play concludes, the top two teams from each group move on to the quarterfinal round. So far, Pools A and B have wrapped up, with Cuba and Italy advancing from Pool A, and Japan and Australia from Pool B officially moving on to the second round.
As Italy was originally ranked No. 15 (of 20) in the power rankings before the tournament began, they were able to compete and hold their own in a talented pool, where every single team went 2-2. After beating the Netherlands to trigger a five-way tie, then came an insanely complicated math equation (literally), that eventually sealed the Pool A victory for Cuba.
Japan cruised to victory as the only team to go undefeated so far, going 4-0 in pool play and showing they are undoubtedly not messing around. Australia also clinched a spot into the next round after only losing to Japan — locking in the first four teams to make it to the next round.
Pool A and B Results
The other two pools began play last Saturday, where the U.S. beat Great Britain in their home opener but was trounced by Mexico on Sunday evening. Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico have been showcasing the raw power and talent they have on hand, all hanging out at the top of the pack, with Venezuela winning its third game and securing a spot into the next round.
Pool C and D Results
The tournament now moves into single elimination, and Cuba will kick off the second round in their early Wednesday morning game against Australia at 5 a.m. CT. Italy draws an extremely tough matchup with Japan, on Thursday morning at 5 a.m. CT.
Checking in on the South Siders
Yoán Moncada has continued to be the catalyst of the Cuban team, as he helped propel them into first place after a sluggish start. In the past two games, Moncada has gone 6-for-9 — including two doubles and a home run — with five RBIs. Moncada has bounced back impeccably from the first two games, and I’m excited to see what he brings to the next round.
Luis Robert Jr. also went 1-for-4 in the final game, striking out once more and leaving four on base. Hopefully Robert can turn it around, but thankfully his teammate is picking him up right now.
Eloy Jiménez didn’t start in the Dominican Republic’s opening game against Venezuela, but he did start in right field in the D.R.’s second game against Nicaragua and went 2-for-4 with an RBI — the first run of the game. Careful White Sox fans ... might we be looking at our Opening Day right fielder? Nobody hunt me down for this, please, I joke!
Nicholas Padilla has appeared in two Puerto Rico pool play games thus far and has been perfect for the four outs he was given. He replaced Marcus Stroman in the fourth inning to get the last out, and earned the win for the game. Shout-out to Padilla!
The White Sox players representing Team USA have also been playing extremely well in their first few games. Tim Anderson has been the star of the show (as per usual), ranking second on the team in batting average and OPS behind only sluggers J.T. Realmuto and Kyle Schwarber, respectively. In the two games he has played, Anderson has gone 4-for-7 with a double, triple, and four RBIs. Maybe we can get a home run to complete his little stat cycle. Tim even started at second base for the first time in his professional career, and was able to step in on the fly and defend the position perfectly. It’s so incredibly fun to watch him perform and showcase his talent on an international level.
Lance Lynn started the United States’ third game, against Canada, and looked in midseason form with the outing he had. There was the small blip of a home run in the first inning, but that was just one of two hits he gave up, and he was otherwise unstoppable.
Last but not least, Kendall Graveman came in to relieve Nick Martinez in Game 2, where he faced one single batter. And how perfect that one batter was. Joe Kelly was spotted in the crowd, though!
Puerto Rico beat Israel on an eighth inning walk-off (yes, you read that right) due to the tournament’s 10 runs after seven innings mercy rule, and the team also combined for eight perfect innings. Impressive!
Although they are now both eliminated, Korea set a record for most runs scored in a game with 22. Tough way to go out for China.
Juan Soto and Manny Machado are still smacking dingers, with a solo shot apiece in the Dominican Republic’s win over Nicaragua.
Shohei Ohtani of Japan was also announced Pool B MVP. Shohei? MVP? No surprise there!
Your Pool B MVP: Shohei Ohtani— World Baseball Classic (@WBCBaseball) March 14, 2023
Hitting: 6-for-12, 3 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI
Pitching: 4 IP, 1 H, 5 Ks pic.twitter.com/HUwPL6afzn
Mexico’s Joey Meneses launched two home runs that erupted the stadium against the U.S. in their Sunday night matchup. It was a pretty awesome bat flip, to be fair, channeling Brian Goodwin.
And Salvador Pérez is still doing Salvy things in the WBC, fear not.
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