The World Baseball Classic is now set to head into the semifinal round this upcoming week. The final four teams are Japan, Netherlands, Puerto Rico and the United States. Let’s talk about how we got here.
Puerto Rico and Japan both stormed through group play, both finishing undefeated through the first two rounds at 6-0. The USA and Netherlands both finished 4-2 through the first two rounds. The Netherlands will play Puerto Rico and the US team will play Japan. The US had a very dramatic route to the semifinal round.
With is win or go home game against defending champion Dominican Republic, team USA played their most spirited game of the tournament so far. Having lost to the Dominican team in group-play already the US had something to prove and boy, did they prove it. After being down 2-0 after the first inning, Tigers second basemen Ian Kinsler had an RBI ground out in the third. Two batters later Marlins’ outfielder Christian Yelich ripped a double to center scoring Kinsler and tying up the game for the Americans. He wasn’t the only Marlin to join the party. In the top of the fourth with a runner, outfielder Giancarlo Stanton absolutely crushed a ball to left field to give the Americans their first lead at 4-2. They wouldn’t look back although in the bottom of the seventh, things looked bleaker.
Baltimore Orioles third basemen Manny Machado scorched a ball to deep center field to only have himself robbed by his Oriole teammate Adam Jones of a home run. At the time of the play it was 4-2 U.S. but later in the inning Seattle Mariners second basemen Robinson Cano would hit a solo shot to left field to trim it to a one score game. Then in the eighth the U.S. would get the insurance runs they direly needed as Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen doubled sharply to center scoring Yelich and Eric Hosmer. That would be all the offense the U.S. needed, as they would punch their ticket to the semifinals and face-off against Japan on Tuesday night with the winner headed to Dodger Stadium for the finals.
Kinlser is the only Tiger regular left at the WBC. Venezuela was knocked out as they lost all three of their games in the second round. Miguel Cabrera was sidelined for the rest of the tournament after tweaking his back against the Dominican Republic. Cabrera is expected to be ready to go for Opening Day. The only other Tiger left besides Kinsler is relief-pitching prospect Joe Jimenez who has pitched well in the small sample size we’ve seen.
I’m excited to see what the end of this tournament will bring and hopefully these last few games, especially the thriller last night between the Dominican Republic and United States will bring more popularity to the event and get fans a little fired up. Either way the last four teams should make for a very exciting final round to the WBC.
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