World Baseball Classic 2013 Schedule: Most Intriguing Group-Stage Matchups

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World Baseball Classic 2013 Schedule: Most Intriguing Group-Stage Matchups
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It's going to be difficult for you to watch every game in the World Baseball Classic. There are 24 games in the group stage alone, and some of them start at obscene hours in the early morning.

But while you won't be able to catch each contest, there are a few first-round games you absolutely cannot miss. Luckily for you, I've identified those games and offered a small preview below.

And don't worry—you'll only have to wake up early for one. You can manage it.

 

Venezuela vs. Dominican Republic

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If this game was a movie, they would call it "There Will Be Runs."

The Dominican Republic boasts a lineup featuring Robinson Cano, Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Nelson Cruz and Edwin Encarnacion, while Venezuela counters with Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval.

Basically, this is an All-Star Game, and I wouldn't be surprised to see something close to a 7-6 score.

These teams open the tournament against one another, so I would guess you'll see Edinson Volquez on the mound for the Dominican Republic, and Anibal Sanchez hurling for Venezuela. You do not want to miss this game.

 

Japan vs. Cuba

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Really, this game is intriguing because each squad is one of the top international teams in the world, but neither will have any major league players on the roster. For Cuba, that's obvious enough—any Cuban players in the MLB had to defect.

But for Japan—the two-time winner of this competition—the team will be without Ichiro Suziki, Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka, three key players in past tournaments. Will Japan be able to make it three straight WBC titles in a row without them?

This is the final game in Pool A and very well could determine which of these teams advances to the next round. You may not know the names of all the players, but this will be an excellent game to watch. 

Well, if you don't mind waking up at 5 a.m. ET on a Wednesday, that is.

 

United States vs. Canada

Jason Arnold/Getty Images

I suppose you could say the United States has a decent lineup, what with Ryan Braun, David Wright, Giancarlo Stanton, Adam Jones, Joe Mauer, Brandon Phillips, Jimmy Rollins and Mark Teixeira all on the roster.

Okay, that's a really, really scary lineup. Oh, and let's not forget about starting pitchers R.A. Dickey, Gio Gonzalez and Ryan Vogelsong.

But don't sleep on Canada. The lineup has some bite with Joey Votto, Justin Morneau and Brett Lawrie, and the team has a strong bullpen anchored by John Axford. It would be surprising if Canada pulled the upset here, but not shocking. 

The Canadiens will be competing with Mexico for the second spot in the next round, so expect this team to give the U.S. a fight.

 

Here's the full schedule of games for the entire tournament. The above games are highlighted in italics.

 

Round Pool Date Time (ET) Teams
1 A Saturday, March 2 5 a.m. Japan vs. Brazil 
1 A Saturday, March 2 10 p.m. Cuba vs. Brazil
1 A Sunday, March 3 5 a.m. China vs. Japan
1 A Monday, March 4 3:30 a.m. China vs. Cuba
1 A Tuesday, March 5 3:30 a.m. Brazil vs. China
1 A Wednesday, March 6 5 a.m. Japan vs. Cuba
1
B Friday, March 1 11:30 p.m. Australia vs. Taiwan
1 B Saturday, March 2 6:30 a.m. South Korea vs. Netherlands
1 B Sunday, March 3 1:30 a.m. Netherlands vs. Taiwan
1 B Monday, March 4 5:30 a.m. South Korea vs. Australia
1 B Monday, March 4 11:30 p.m. Australia vs. Netherlands
1 B Tuesday, March 5 6:30 a.m. Taiwan vs. South Korea
1 C Thursday, March 7 6:30 p.m. Venezuela vs. Dominican Republic
1 C Friday, March 8 5:30 p.m. Spain vs. Puerto Rico
1 C Saturday, March 9 11 a.m. Dominican Republic vs. Spain
1 C Saturday, March 9 5:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. Venezuela
1
C Sunday, March 10 12:30 p.m. Spain vs. Venezuela
1 C Sunday, March 10 7:30 p.m. Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico
1 D Thursday, March 7 3 p.m. Italy vs. Mexico
1 D Friday, March 8 2:30 p.m. Canada vs. Italy
1 D Friday, March 8 9 p.m. Mexico vs. United States
1 D Saturday, March 9 2:30 p.m. Canada vs. Mexico
1 D Saturday, March 9 9 p.m. United States vs. Italy
1 D Sunday, March 10 4 p.m. United States vs. Canada
2 n/a Thursday, March 8 10 p.m. Game 1: Pool A Runner-up vs. Pool B Winner
2 n/a Friday, March 8 5 a.m. Game 2: Pool B Runner-up vs. Pool A Winner
2 n/a Saturday, March 9 5 a.m. Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser
2 n/a Sunday, March 10 6 a.m. Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner
2 n/a Monday, March 11 6 a.m. Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser
2 n/a Tuesday, March 12 6 a.m. Game 5 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner
2 n/a Tuesday, March 12 1 p.m. Game 1: Pool D Runner-up vs. Pool C Winner
2 n/a Tuesday, March 12 8 p.m. Game 2: Pool C Runner-up vs. Pool D Winner
2 n/a Wednesday, March 13 7 p.m. Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser
2 n/a Thursday, March 14 7 p.m. Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner
2 n/a Friday, March 15 7 p.m. Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser
2 n/a Saturday, March 16 1 p.m. Game 5 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner
Semifinals n/a Sunday, March 17  9 p.m. Pool 2 Runner-up vs. Pool 1 Winner
Semifinals n/a Monday, March 18 9 p.m. Pool 1 Runner-up vs. Pool 2 Winner
Championship n/a Tuesday, March 19 9 p.m. Semifinal Winners

 

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