World Baseball Classic 2013 Results: Complete Winners from This Week's Action
To say that it was a wild week at the World Baseball Classic would be a disturbing understatement.
From jaw-dropping upsets to awe-inspiring comebacks, we had it all. WBC favorites fell, baseball powers rose up and countless games came down to the wire.
When it was all said and done, Japan, Netherlands and the Dominican Republic clinched championship-round berths. The United States and Puerto Rico will compete for the final spot on Mar. 15.
So how did we get through this madness at the WBC? Let's review.
Monday, March 11: Netherlands 7, Cuba 6
With a spot in the 2013 World Baseball Classic semifinals on the line, underdog Netherlands took on favorite Cuba.
Led by five-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove award winner Andruw Jones, Netherlands took a 1-0 lead. Jones hit a sacrifice fly to score Randolph Oduber. One batter later, Curt Smith drove in Andrelton Simmons of the Atlanta Braves.
Just like that, the team that no one gave a shot was up 2-0.
Cuba wasted no time in responding, as Jose Fernandez drove in Yulieski Gourriel in the top of the fourth inning. Two batters later, Jose Abreu blasted a solo home run to center field, tying up the game.
Once again, that didn't last long.
One half-inning later, Simmons drove in Kalian Sams with a sacrifice fly. With the score 3-2, Oduber scored his second run of the game by stealing third and then scoring on a throwing error to make it 4-2.
I couldn't have come up with this if I wanted to—Cuba struck back just a half-inning later. Again.
Gourriel took a Shairon Martis pitch to deep center and drove in Luis Rivera and Alexei Bell.
We're tied at 4-4.
It remained that way until the eighth inning.
With the game tied at 4-4, Yasmany Tomas belted a single into right field and brought Frederich Cepeda across the plate. One batter later, Eriel Sanchez brought Abreu in with a sacrifice fly.
With Netherlands up 6-4, it was the same story. One half-inning later, we were all tied up again.
Simmons blasted a two-run homer to make it 6-6 as the game entered the ninth inning.
During the final inning of play, the Netherlands had a chance to shock the world. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Kalian Sams stepped up to the plate.
A shot to center, a catch by the fielder and a play at the plate—Andruw Jones crossed the plate and moved the Netherlands into the championship round.
Tuesday, March 12: Japan 10, Netherlands 6
On the second pitch of the game, Andrelton Simmons blasted a 402-foot home run to left field. Netherlands' magical run appeared as if it would continue to the top seed in the semifinals.
In the bottom of the second, however, Japan blew this one open.
During the eighth pitch of his at-bat, Shinnosuke Abe took a pitch from David Bergman over the right field wall. After two consecutive walks and a bunt single, Nobuhiro Matsuda brought another run in with a single.
Hisayoshi Chono proceeded to clear the bases and make it a 5-1 Japanese lead. After getting two more runners on base, Abe hit a three-run homer.
At the end of two innings, the score was 8-1 Japan. It stayed that way until the seventh inning.
Xander Bogaerts drove in Curt Smith, and Randolph Oduber brought in Kalian Sams to make it 8-3. One inning later, Smith and Sams both drove in runs. Quintin De Cuba then drove in a third run with a single.
It was 8-6 entering the bottom of the eighth.
During the eighth, Chono struck again. He drove in two additional runs, bringing his RBI total to five on the evening.
Japan was now up 10-6.
In the top of the ninth inning. Netherlands managed to get runners on second and third. With Kazuhisa Makita on the mound, however, Japan managed to get one final K for the W.
Both teams advance, but Japan wins the top seed from their pool.
Tuesday, March 12: Dominican Republic 5, Italy 4
In one of the greatest comebacks of the World Baseball Classic, the Dominican Republic went to battle in a game that wasn't decided until the ninth inning.
No matter how late it was won, the game started with a bang.
Italy took it to the Dominican ace, Edinson Volquez. Alex Liddi drove in a run via a sacrifice fly in the first inning, allowing Nick Punto to cross home plate.
Chris Colabello followed up with a three-run homer to right field just one batter later. This put Italy up 4-0 and had many thinking that D.R. could be in for an upset.
Even after Jose Reyes' third-inning solo home run, the Dominicans trailed 4-1. The scored stayed that way until Robinson Cano's solo shot in the seventh inning made it 4-2.
One inning later, the damage was truly done.
The Dominican Republic quickly loaded the bases, thus enabling Edwin Encarnacion to walk in a run and make it 4-3. One batter later, Hanley Ramirez drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.
With the score 4-4, Nelson Cruz drove in the run that made it 5-4.
Santiago Casilla came on in the eighth and pitched a perfect inning. After Brian Sweeney did the same for Italy, it was up to Fernando Rodney to come in and close it out.
Tyler LaTorre got on base with one out, drawing a walk and creating life for the Italians. Unfortunately, Drew Butera grounded into a game-ending double play.
The D.R. holds on for a thriller.
Tuesday, March 12: United States 7, Puerto Rico 1
If you're looking for the most shocking result of the 2013 World Baseball Classic, the United States decimated the favored Puerto Rico.
Gio Gonzalez was sensational, pitching five scoreless inning and striking out five batters in the process. He allowed three hits and allowed just two of those players to reach second base.
Joe Mauer's first-inning RBI double that scored Ryan Braun proved to be all that Gonzalez needed. Two innings later, David Wright grounded into a fielder's choice and made it 2-0.
Wright struck again in the fifth with an RBI single.
Just as Puerto Rico cut the lead to 4-1 in the top of the eighth, it was none other than Wright who came up big for the W. He drove in Jimmy Rollins, Braun and Mauer with a double, which lifted his RBI total to five for the day.
That was more than enough for Gonzalez and the rest of the American pitching staff to secure the win.
Five American pitchers served in relief, and Craig Kimbrel finished it off with a non-save opportunity. Not only was this an upset but a pure and utter decimation.
A stellar performance by Team USA.
Wednesday, March 13: Puerto Rico 4, Italy 3
In the first elimination game of the Miami games, Puerto Rico went to battle with Italy. Both teams suffered disappointing losses, and neither could afford to spare an inch with disqualification on the line.
Through four innings, the pitchers refused to let up an inch.
Alex Maestri and Giancarlo Alvarado took the mound for Italy and Puerto Rico, respectively. After four complete innings, the score remained 0-0 as the batters were stifled by the arms on the mound.
Until Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo gave Italy a 3-0 lead with a bases-clearing double in the top of the fifth.
The Italians managed to load the bases with three singles, thus setting up the potential for something special. That's exactly what they received from the player who took major steps toward stardom during the WBC.
Puerto Rico's only counter was a fielder's choice that scored Yadier Molina. It took until the eighth inning for Puerto Rico to strike again.
With runners on the corners and no outs, Mike Aviles stepped up to the plate. He grounded into a fielder's choice, but that didn't prevent Carlos Beltran from scoring and making it a 3-2 game.
Two batters later, Luis Figueroa tied it up with a sacrifice fly. With just six outs remaining, Italy rallied to tie it up in an improbable manner.
Moments later, Puerto Rico trumped that achievement with Alex Gonzalez's run-producing infield single. As Alex Rios crossed home plate, Puerto Rico went up 4-3.
One inning later, Fernando Cabrera retired the final batter for the victory.
Thursday, March 14: Dominican Republic 3, United States 1
When the Dominican Republic took on Team USA, the game was about much more than just bragging rights or another inter-country win. Instead, it was a matter of advancement.
The winner would move on to the championship round to play Netherlands. The loser would face Puerto Rico in a game to determine which team will advance.
Everything was on the line.
Early on, it had the makings of a blowout. Samuel Deduno loaded the bases and walked Eric Hosmer, thus spotting the United States an early run.
Although Deduno would get out alive, the damage was done. Or was it?
One half-inning later, Hanley Ramirez hit an awe-inspiring 451-foot home run off of R.A. Dickey. Just like that, the score was tied at 1-1 entering the bottom half of the second inning.
And then the offense stopped.
Neither pitcher would allow a run from that point on. Deduno struck out seven batters in 4.0 innings, while Dickey went 5.0 and sent down four players via Ks.
After a longstanding pitcher's duel, the game entered the ninth inning still at 1-1. With American closer Craig Kimbrel on the mound, it seemed as if it would stay that way.
After Nelson Cruz blasted his second double of the evening, however, the outcome was in question. Fortunately, Kimbrel got Carlos Santana to ground out for the first out of the inning.
One batter later, pinch hitter Erick Aybar smacked a ball into right field, allowing Cruz to cross the plate for a 2-1 lead.
Aybar wasn't done, as he proceeded to steal second base moments later. After that, Jose Reyes took it to his former divisional foe by driving a Kimbrel pitch into center.
Aybar would score and make it a 3-1 lead for the Dominican Republic.
Entering the bottom of the ninth, we hit the bottom third of the United States' batting lineup. With Fernando Rodney on the mound, Adam Jones began the final stretch with a fly out to left.
Ben Zobrist didn't fare much better, striking out on seven pitches.
The final batter of the evening was pinch hitter Shane Victorino. After falling behind in the count at 1-2, Victorino popped up to third base.
The Dominican Republic advances, and the U.S. will now play Puerto Rico with a berth in the championship round on the line.