WBC Day 3: 3/9/09, 10:00AM ET

Pool A (or the Wait was that last night or was it today? Stupid round planet! Pool):

Game 6: Korea (2-1) vs Japan (2-1)

POOL A HAS BEEN DECIDED!

In a grueling pitchers' duel, Korea 6-hit Japan in a 1-0 victory to decide the Pool Winner. Korea Starter Jung Keun Bong 3 hit the Japanese squad into the 6th, striking out 2, and the Japanese team could hardly muster the same. This isn't to say that the Korean bats were grand, as they failed to capitalize on their own 4 hits, as well as the 7 walks allowed. Still, 1 run was all it took this time, and Korea and Japan will both advance nevertheless. Clearly, this was a match all about the pitching. The winners from Pool B ought to bring their big bats, because the Koreans and the Japanese have no plans on taking this easy.

It's a shame the games all occur in the wee hours of the morning from Pool A, as the competition between Korea and Japan is absolutely timeless.

Korea: 1, Japan: 0

Lines of the Game:

Korea SP Jung Keun Bong: 5.1IP, 3H, 2K, 0R

Korea 1B Tae Kyun Kim: 2-4, RBI

Moving into Pool 1 in San Diego, Japan will play the winner of Pool B, and Korea will play the runner-up.

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Pool B:

Starting at 10PM ET, Mexico and South Africa will square off in the battle of the losers (MLBN, ESPN Deportes). Mexico, coming off an embarrassing pool beginning, will look to get themselves back in the action and send the South Africans packing. South Africa, clearly the underdogs in this game, will look to make strides against one of the better teams in the competition, and while they'll be looking for another upset, Mexico will be playing to make everyone forget last night.

***UPDATES***

As we speak, Mexico is beating South Africa 4-2 in the top of the 7th inning. Elmer Dessens has pitched 4innings allowing only 2 runs. South African starter Justin Erasmus was chased after 3 innings of work, having allowed 3 runs including a 2-run HR to Adrian Gonzalez. Currently, the bases are full of Mexicans with only 1 out and a run was just walked in. This does not bode well for South Africa's chances to remain.

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Pool C:

Joey Votto and Team Canada (0-1) will play Frank Catalanotto and the Texas Rangers Italian squad in a faceoff of the Game 1-and-2 losers (6:30PM ET, MLBN, ESPN Deportes). If Italy can get a repeat pitching performance in the fashion of Mark DiFelice, Italy may stand a chance yet. However, Canada is fighting to keep themselves from being wipe out on their home turf. The winner of this match will play Venezuela tomorrow.

***UPDATES***

CANADA HAS BEEN ELIMINATED

In an upset that I'm sure NOBODY saw coming, especially considering Canada's performance against the USA in Game 1. Dan Serafini tossed 3 scoreless innings before giving up 2 runs in the top of the 4th. Jason Grilli pitched 3.1 innings of 1-hit ball in relief of Chris Cooper, and the Italian bats, led by one incredibly potent Chris Denorfia, kept a steady stream of offense on the board to keep the Canadians playing a futile game of catchup.

Canada: 2, Italy: 6

Lines of the game:

Italy P Jason Grilli: 3.1IP, 1H, 2BB, 2K, 0R, SV

Italy CF Chris Denorfia: 4-4, BB, 2R, 2RBI, 3 2B

Canada 1B Justin Morneau: 4-5, R, 2 2B

Notes from the game:

  1. Canadian icon and fashion model Don Cherry tossed out the ceremonial first pitch today. He then met with Justin Morneau on the way out of the game and exchanged an autograph - I wondered aloud who asked who for the signature...
  2. Dan Serafini? Really?
  3. Jason Bay had a 2-out popup in the 5th inning that bounced off the stupid lighting brackets, which apparently are in place for Disney on Ice next week. Nick Punto had ranged back to catch it, but the ball ricocheted and Italy 1B Mazzanti made a desperate lunge to make the play, but did not succeed. You'd think they could have waited a bit to put them up, as they've now interfered with 2 plays, one becoming a hit. The Rogers Centre has not brought their A-Game to the WBC.
  4. Chris Denorfia was the stud of this game. Not only did he put up a massive batting line, he also played excellent defense in CF, making 6 putouts, including a massive diving catch on a ball in the CF/RF gap, and almost made a diving catch on a flare into very shallow center that resulted in an awkward double for Justin Morneau.
  5. Canadian Minor League Hero Stubby Clapp flied out to deep LF as a PH in the 8th. After the game, he remained around outside to sign autographs for appreciative Canadian fans. I saw him give a couple of guys big hugs. It was heartwarming. Think "Rudy" combined with Doug Flutie with all the sentiment and none of the success.

Italy will play Venezuela at 5PM ET tomorrow (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes) to determine the 2nd Pool Finalist, and the winner will play USA for the Pool title.

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Pool D:

Surprise victor Netherlands (1-0) will battle Pudge Rodriguez and the Puerto Rican team (1-0), hoping to recapture the magic that held their lead against the Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico, however, dismantled the Panamanians, and clearly have no intent to take it easy on their neighbors from Curacao (and beyond). Netherlands will need a pitching performance at the very minimum BETTER THAN Sir Sidney Ponson's 5H, 3BB, K, 2R showing on Saturday if they wish to quell the Puerto Rican bats.

With all respect to the Puerto Rican team, I'm pulling for the Netherlands all the way here. I love upsets. Provided they're not against the United States.

***UPDATES***

Netherlands has upset been upset in their upset! Leading 1-0 entering the bottom of the 8th, Netherlands pitchers Dennis Neuman, Michiel van Kampen, and Leon Boyd combined to issue 3 walks, a 2 run double, and an RBI single, and the inning ended on a 7-2 putout on the RBI single. Netherlands was unable to rally any offense against JC Romero and Fernando Cabrera, and the Netherlands found the first pitfall in their WBC run after their David/Goliath-esque beginning.

Netherlands: 1, Puerto Rico: 3

Lines of the game:

Netherlands SP Rick VandenHurk: 3.1IP, 3H, 3BB, 2K, 0R

Puerto Rico C Yadier Molina: 1-4, 2RBI

Puerto Rico 1B Carlos Delgado: 1-1, 2BB (lifted for PR Andy Gonzalez in the 8th, Gonzalez subsequently scored)

Having now lost, Netherlands will face the Dominican tomorrow (6:30PM ET, MLBN, ESPN Deportes) in a match for their respective tournament lives.

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And with that, dear RowBots, I'll take my leave until later this evening. I'm off to the Royal Ontario Museum, and perhaps I'll go find some poutine later this evening!

(Go Jason Grilli!)

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