Pittsburgh Pirates: Round One of WBC Finishes

Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports /

News:  One of the World Baseball Classic has wrapped up. Some of the Pittsburgh Pirates players made an impact in the final games.

The first game yesterday was an exciting one between the Dominican Republic and Colombia.  This game was of great importance, as depending on the result, there could have been a one game playoff.  There were multiple scenarios for this to occur, however, it did not come down to this.  The Dominican Republic jumped out to an early three to one lead after putting up two runs in the third inning. Wily Peralta started for the Dominican and went four innings, allowing just one run to Team Colombia.  Colombia scratched a little closer in the bottom of the sixth when Mauricio Ramos doubled in a run to make it 3-2.

The game really got exciting in the late innings. Fernando Rodney blew the one lead in the eighth, giving up a home run to Phillies catching prospect Jorge Alfaro.  Then in the bottom of the ninth, the Colombians had two runners on with one out.  Reynaldo Rodriguez on team Colombia lined a fly ball to left field.  Jose Bautista caught the ball and threw the ball home as Oscar Mercado tagged up on the play.  The ball reached home right as the runner did.  Wellington Castillo tagged Mercado as he caught the ball on Mercado’s leg.  The ump signaled out, and the Colombian bench cut loose.

Ejections at the World Baseball Classic

Due to this, two Colombian players were ejected, including Reynaldo Rodriguez and former Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Tito Polo. Meanwhile, I have never heard a crowd roar that loud, the camera was shaking as if there was an earthquake.  After watching the replay, the ump made the right call.  The game headed into extra innings.

New Base Running Rule has a Big Impact

The top of the 11th came around and the extra inning base runner rule came about. Once a game reaches the 11th inning two runners are placed on first and second. The Dominican’s had Mel Rojas Jr. at the plate.  Rojas was asked to bunt, he got it down and moved the runners up to second and third.  Then, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco was intentionally walked to set up a force out anywhere.  This did not play out for the Colombians.  The savior on defense struck on offense as well, as Wellington Castillo singled in two runs on a hit to left field.

The inning went on forever, eventually, Mel Rojas Jr. actually made the last out of the inning after making the first one.  Jeurys Familia locked the game down after the base runner rule was put in for the Colombian’s in the bottom of the inning. As a result, the game ended with a Dominican victory of 10-3.

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Marte and Polanco

The only Pittsburgh Pirates player to play in the game was Gregory Polanco.  Starling Marte found himself on the bench the whole game.  This seemed to be an odd move as he had a big time home run against Team USA and Andrew Miller the night before.  However, he did suffer a slight ankle sprain earlier in the week.  It may very well have been that his ankle tightened up some after playing on it.

Back to Polanco, who had a really strong game.  Polanco reached based three times, including the intentional walk, in which he scored a run on.  He singled on a fly ball to right field in his second at-bat.  Then in his third at-bat, he ripped a line drive into center.  His first at-bat he crushed a pitch to the left-center warning track, only for it to be caught. Furthermore, the other out he made was a groundout to the first baseman, his worst at-bat of the game.  As a result, he finished the game 2-4 with two singles, a walk, and a run scored.

Italy vs Puerto Rico

In the second game, Team Italy took on Team Puerto Rico.  Puerto Rico is as hot as any team in the entire World Baseball Classic right now.  However, the only Pittsburgh Pirates player in the game was catcher Francisco Cervelli for Team Italy.  Cervelli struggled at the plate going 0-3, and he was eventually lifted for a pinch hitter. Houston Astro’s shortstop Carlos Correa hit a three-run homer to get Puerto Rico’s offense going. Team Puerto Rico cruised to a victory by a score of 9-3.

The USA vs Canada

The last game of note for Pittsburgh Pirates fans was Team USA taking on Team Canada.  Once again, Andrew McCutchen found himself on the bench for Team USA.  In his place, the red-hot Christian Yellich started in left field.  In addition to Yellich, Adam Jones was in center, and Giancarlo Stanton in right.  Josh Harrison did finally get a chance to play.  He pinched hit late in the seventh inning for Ian Kinsler.  It was a tough at-bat for Harrison as he fell behind 0-2.  On the third pitch, he flew out to center weakly. He stayed in the game at second base.

Also, for Team Canada, Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Eric Wood started at third base.  Wood had a tough game at the plate. As a result, he went 0-4, striking out twice, and leaving four runners on base. Team Canada and Wood were officially are officially out of the tournament losing 8-0 to Team USA.

Venezuela vs Mexico

The last game of the night was between Team Venezuela and Team Mexico.  It was a high-scoring affair between the two sides.  With Mexico picking up their first win by a score of 11-9.  This came as somewhat of an upset, as Team Venezuela has multiple all-stars on their team that helps make up a lineup that is complete with big league players.  Mexico got to Venezuela’s starter Yusmeiro Petit, knocking him around for five runs in just two innings.  Furthermore, the pitching did not get much better for Venezuela, as Wil Ledezma gave up another three runs over the next 2.2 innings. Obviously, Venezuela’s offense tried to keep up, posting nine runs for the game, but their pitching just could not hold down Team Mexico. Unfortunately for Mexico, the win did nothing for them, and they were knocked out of the tournament.

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Not Done Yet!

This wrapped up round-robin play for Pool C and D.  Coming out of Pool C will be the Dominican Republic and Team USA.  Meaning that many of the Pittsburgh Pirates starters will continue to be away from the team. Meanwhile, Team Italy and Team Venezuela will play tonight in a one-game playoff.  Whoever wins will move on from as the two seed from Pool D. The game starts at nine, and Francisco Cervelli will be the only Pittsburgh Pirates player between the two teams.

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