World Baseball Classic 2013: Day 1 Results, Recap and Analysis
It's hard to believe it's been four years since the last tournament, but the World Baseball Classic is back in 2013.
Day 1 of the round-robin first-round competition started late Friday night for Eastern Time viewers and wrapped up with two early-morning games on Saturday for anyone watching in the U.S.
With fresh faces hitting the clay this year, baseball fans will see talents from all over the world go head-to-head to represent their countries in the 2013 WBC.
Let's take a look at the Day 1 action and see which countries started off on the right foot.
Chinese Taipei 4, Australia 1
Since putting together back-to-back 19-win seasons with the New York Yankees in 2006 and 2007, Chien-Ming Wang has struggled to stay healthy, but he sure looked in shape against Australia in Chinese Taipei's 4-1 win on Friday.
Wang tossed six scoreless innings, scattering four hits and fanning two batters en route to victory over Australia.
The middle of the lineup provided all of the offense Chinese Taipei would need. Cheng-Min Peng knocked in two runs, one coming off a solo homer in the fifth, while Chih-Sheng Lin and Szu-Chi Chou provided the other two RBI.
Third baseman Stefan Welch hit a home run off of reliever Yao-Hsun Yang in the seventh, but it was too little, too late for Australia, as it mustered just five hits and struck out six times.
Hung-Wen Chen was credited with the save, as he tossed a scoreless ninth inning and struck out one batter.
The Australians will have two days to rest up before taking on South Korea on Monday at 5:30 a.m. ET, while Chinese Taipei will see Netherlands on Sunday at 1:30 a.m. ET.
Japan 5, Brazil 3
It took a three-run eighth-inning rally, but the two-time defending champs were able to defeat newcomer Brazil on Saturday.
The starting pitchers on each side were bounced early, leaving the outcome of the first-round opener squarely on the shoulders of the bullpens.
Brazil got most of its offense from third baseman Leonardo Reginatto. He went 3-for-4 on the day, including two doubles and two RBI, as the Brazilians led 3-2 up until the eighth inning.
The Japanese came storming back in the top of the eighth, as Hirokazu Ibata delivered a game-tying pinch-hit single to tie the game at three. Nobuhiro Matsuda put the finishing touches on the inning with a single that made it 5-3 Japan after Shinnosuke Abe gave Japan the lead with a pinch-hit fielder's choice.
Kazuhisa Makita was credited with the save for the Japanese, as Japan pitchers fanned eight Brazilians in the game.
Brazil is back in action on Saturday night at 10:30 p.m. ET against Cuba, while Japan will play China at 5 a.m. ET on Sunday morning.
Netherlands 5, South Korea 0
It wasn’t necessarily a dominating performance by the Dutch pitchers, but Netherlands hurlers scattered four hits over nine innings and struck out three South Korean hitters on their club's way to a 5-0 upset on Saturday.
South Korea played terribly, to put it lightly, committing four errors and going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
Which Day 1 result was the most shocking to you?
Current MLB players Andrelton Simmons and Roger Bernadina played significant roles in the Netherlands’ win. Simmons went 3-for-5 at the dish and scored two runs, while Bernadina finished the day with two RBI and a run scored.
Netherlands scored one run in the second inning, two in the fifth and two in the seventh to put away South Korea. Diego Markwell was credited with the win for the Dutch, allowing just two hits and a walk over four innings.
The South Koreans will look to get back on track on Monday at 5:30 a.m. ET against Australia, while the Dutch will ride the momentum of this win into a Sunday showdown with Chinese Taipei at 1:30 a.m. ET.
Cuba 5, Brazil 2
The power-heavy Cubans are expected to put up huge offensive numbers at the WBC, but Andre Rienzo (Chicago White Sox) pitched 4.2 innings of one-run baseball to keep his Brazilian squad in the game.
However, his Cuban counterpart, Ismel Jimenez, also pitched 4.2 innings of solid ball, and both pitchers would leave with Cuba up 2-0. Walks hurt Rienzo (four) on the afternoon, but only allowing one hit to a very talented Cuban squad speaks volumes about just how tough the competition is this season.
Jose Abreu is the big stick for the Cuban squad, but he had just one hit and one HBP in four at-bats on Sunday. Erisbel Arruebarruena did the heavy lifting as Cuba won its WBC opener, racking up two hits and two RBI.
Raciel Iglesias closed it out with a three-inning, one-hit save to send Brazil to 0-2 in Pool A play.
It's been a rough draw for the Brazilians, who lost to defending champion Japan to open up their WBC appearance. After less than 24 hours to recuperate, they had to turn around and face a very talented Cuban squad hungry to prove the absence of key MLB'ers (Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes) doesn't make them any weaker to the rest of the field.
After getting their first win, the Cubans will prepare for a showdown with the Chinese on Monday, March 4, at 2:30 a.m. ET. Brazil will get a little bit of rest in before playing that same China squad, playing on Tuesday, March 5, at 3 a.m. ET.
It was an action-packed first day at the 2013 WBC, and things are only going to get better.
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