World Baseball Classic 2013: Day 9 Results, Recap and Analysis
A lot of questions were left to be answered on Sunday at the World Baseball Classic.
Would Japan or the Netherlands earn a berth in the semifinals? Who would earn Pool D's second berth in the second round—the United States or Canada? Would the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico win Pool C when the two teams met on Sunday night?
With the action spread all throughout the day and into the evening, there was a whole lot to keep track of. Luckily for you, we've got all the results, recaps and analysis you need from the day's action right here.
United States Defeats Canada 9-4
Don't be fooled by the final score. This game was a nail-biter up until the ninth inning, when the United States broke things wide open with four runs.
Before that, USA had a lot of the same problems it had the previous two games—namely, hitting with runners in scoring position. But Adam Jones got the big hit in the eighth inning, lining a double to center field that scored two runs and gave the United States a 4-3 lead.
U.S. starting pitcher Derek Holland went five innings—the most for an American starter so far in the WBC, allowing just two runs and striking out four.
David Wright continues to be the best hitter for Team USA. After hitting a grand slam in Saturday's win over Italy, the Mets third baseman reached base four times in five plate appearances with three walks and a double.
Eric Hosmer delivered the knockout blow in the top of the ninth inning with a bases-loaded double to right-center that scored three runs and put the United States up 9-4.
Canada gave the U.S. all it could handle, taking a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second thanks to a two-run home run from the red-hot Michael Saunders.
Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon, just 21 years old, started the game and pitched very well for the Canadians. He went four innings, giving up two runs and striking out three.
By virtue of its head-to-head victory over Italy on Saturday and Sunday's victory in Phoenix, the United States won Pool D and awaits Puerto Rico.
Dominican Republic Defeats Puerto Rico, 4-2
The Dominican Republic continued their unbeaten streak at the World Baseball Classic by beating Puerto Rico 4-2 and winning their first-round group.
Mike Aviles put Puerto Rico in front during the fourth-inning with a two-run homer, but the Dominican Republic tied it in the fifth with a Robinson Cano solo shot. They would then pick up the go-ahead run through an Alejandro De Aza double in the sixth with Nelson Cruz adding an RBI groundout in the seventh to give the final score of 4-2.
Fernando Rodney closed out brilliantly for the Dominican Republic again with a hitless ninth inning—his second save of the Classic so far.
The Dominican Republic will look to keep their undefeated streak alive when they take on Italy next Tuesday while Puerto Rico face the United States.
Venezuela Defeats Spain, 11-6
After scoring just six total runs in its first two losses, the vaunted Venezuela lineup finally caught fire and blasted the Spanish pitching.
Venezuela's No. 3, 4 and 5 hitters paced the offensive onslaught. Miguel Cabrera finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored, three RBI and a home run. Pablo Sandoval went 2-for-4 with a dinger, and Carlos Gonzalez was 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs scored and an RBI.
Spain actually struck first in this game, running out to a three-run lead in the top of the first behind a Barbaro Canizares two-run homer.
Venezuela would finally break through in the fourth inning, exploding for six runs. Spain would respond with two runs in the top of the fifth, but Venezuela would put things away after scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth and three runs in the bottom of the eighth.
Venezuela will likely look back on its weak pitching as its downfall in the tournament. Despite coming in as one of the favorites to win the whole thing, the Venezuela pitchers gave up 21 runs in three games.
That's certainly not a recipe for success. But at least Venezuela could go out with a single win, even if it came against an overmatched Spanish side that still managed to post six runs.
Japan Defeats the Netherlands, 16-4
The Japanese offense exploded on Sunday morning, bashing six home runs and scoring in every inning in a 16-4 blowout that was ended after seven frames due to the 10-run mercy rule used in the WBC.
It was evident early that Japan brought its bats. Takashi Toritani led the game off with a home run, and Japan scored five runs in the second inning off a two-run homer from Nobuhiro Matsuda and a three-run blast from Seiichi Uchikawa.
Already trailing 12-0, the Netherlands would attempt to put up a fight in the bottom of the sixth, scoring four runs in the inning off a base-clearing three-run double from Wladimir Balentien and a single from Andruw Jones.
But Japan would immediately strike back, as Hayato Sakamoto would hit a grand slam in the top of the seventh, putting the mercy rule back in effect.
Kenta Maeda was brilliant for Japan, earning the win after pitching five scoreless innings while allowing just one hit and striking out nine batters.
Japan has one game left in Pool 1 against the winner of Cuba versus the Netherlands, but it will simply be for seeding, as Japan clinched a berth in the semifinals. The two-time defending champions proved that they will once again be a handful in the WBC.
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