The first week of the 2013 World Baseball Classic is in the books, and four countries have already advanced to the second round while four others have been eliminated from the 16-team field.
While Japan looks to be in cruise control yet again, other favorites like Venezuela and the United States have fallen behind quickly, each dropping their opening games. The good news for both nations is that there's a whole lot of baseball still left to be played.
Here we'll get you caught up on where we stand after the first week of action.
Two-Time Defending Champs Advance From Pool A
As expected, Japan got off to a hot start in Pool A, defeating Brazil and China to book a trip to the second round along with Cuba, which won all three of its games, including a 6-3 win over Japan on Wednesday.
The Japanese have been dominant at this tournament over the years, having won the last two in 2006 and 2009. Most predicted Japan to win before the tournament began last week, and it's easy to see why.
Chinese Taipei and Netherlands Survive Pool B
The 2009 runner-up, South Korea, made it tough, but in the end it was Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands advancing from Pool B. Australia lost all three of its games never once proving to be a legitimate threat to the title.
The Dutch won their opening second-round game, 6-2 against Cuba, while Chinese Taipei fell in heartbreaking fashion to Japan, 4-3 after 10 innings.
Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico Off to Fast Starts in Pool C
There are still four huge games left to be played before the Pool C picture becomes any clearer, but for now we know that the Dominican squad, led by New York Yankees star Robinson Cano, and the Puerto Rican team are in the best shape after the first two group games.
The Dominican Republic knocked off Venezuela 9-3 on Thursday, while Puerto Rico took out Spain 3-0 on Friday.
Fans will want to keep a close eye on Saturday's Puerto Rico versus Venezuela matchup as well as Sunday's showdown between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Both games have mighty implications in terms of deciding who will advance.
United States and Canada Fall Behind Early in Pool D
The Americans have already dug themselves a good-sized hole at the World Baseball Classic, dropping their opening Pool D game to Mexico, 5-2. Meanwhile, Canada was blasted by Italy, losing 14-4 in a game that didn't require more than eight innings.
Mexico will conclude its first-round play on Saturday against Canada, and the United States will gear up for a game against Italy on Saturday before finishing up against the Canadians on Sunday.
Cuba, Japan, Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands are all through to the second round. But the Japanese and the Dutch are off to hot starts already in the second round, having each won their opening second-round matchup in Tokyo.
Cuba and Chinese Taipei aren't out of it yet, but Japan and the Netherlands are certainly in the driver's seat to move on to the semifinals this week.
On the bottom of the bracket, the other second-round group is still in the works, as the advancing teams from Pools C and D have yet to be determined. There will be four Pool C and D games on Saturday, and then three others on Sunday to conclude first-round action.
*Visit WorldBaseballClassic.com to view the entire bracket.
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