Venezuela is the last team in this year's World Baseball Classic to advance to the second round, thanks to a 4-3 win over Team Italy in a tiebreaker game Monday night.
How Venezuela got to that tiebreaker game is the subject of some controversy, though. Venezuela, Italy and Mexico all tied for for second place in their pool, calling for a tiebreaker. The WBC decides who plays in the tiebreaker game due to a formula that had some fuzzy math, at least if you ask Mexico:
The teams that were tied would be ranked based on fewest runs allowed per defensive inning in the games the teams played against one another.
Italy had allowed 20 runs over 19 innings in the relevant games, so its rating was 1.05. Venezuela’s was 1.11. Mexico had allowed 19 runs over what it believed to be 18 innings played, which would be a rating of 1.06, or better than Venezuela’s.
But in the aftermath of Sunday’s game, a spokesman for Major League Baseball announced that was not the case. Mexico, under the W.B.C.’s interpretation of the tiebreaker rule, had actually allowed 19 runs in 17 defensive innings, which meant it would finish a hair behind Venezuela and would be shut out of the tiebreaker.
Why the discrepancy? It had to do with the way last Thursday night’s game between Mexico and Italy had ended. In that game, Italy notched a 10-9 walk-off victory, scoring five runs in the bottom of the ninth without recording an out.
Since Mexico was in the field in the bottom of the ninth, it believed it should count as inning on defense, or 18 innings in all. But because no outs were recorded, the W.B.C. ruled that Mexico would get no credit for being in the field. Under the partial-innings rule where each out is treated separately in the formulation, no outs means no inning at all.
That's not even the craziest part -- Mexico filed a formal appeal which wasn't decided on until hours before the game. Italy was in their clubhouse, getting ready for a game despite not knowing who they would be playing. To make matters worse, Mexico had beaten Venezuela head-to-head on Sunday night.
As for the tiebreaker game itself, Venezuela scored three runs in the top of the 9th inning to steal a win -- and, if you ask Mexico, their spot in the second round. The tiebreaker situation is even tougher to swallow for Mexico, because if you don't advance out of the first round, WBC rules state you have to qualify for the next tournament.
Hernan Perez came on as a defensive replacement in left field for the bottom of the 9th, but did not get an at-bat.
Team Israel's surprising run through this year's World Baseball Classic hit its first speed bump on Monday, with the Cinderella squad losing its first game of the tournament to the Netherlands, 12-2. Both teams are now 1-1 in the second round of pool play.
Brewers farmhand Cody Decker pinch-hit for Ike Davis in the bottom of the 8th and struck out. The game would end in the 8th inning due to the 10-run rule.
The Dutch were led by Didi Gregorius, who went 2-for-3 with 5 RBI, with a big blow coming on a three-run homer in the 4th inning.
A loss doesn't put Israel in dire straits yet, but two losses would be tough to overcome in a pool that also features Japan and Cuba.
Cuba Smoked Late
Speaking of those two teams, they went head-to-head in the wee hours of this morning, with Japan improving to 2-0 in the second round with an 8-5 win.
In a true back-and-forth game, the Cubans responded to every score by the Japanese until late, when Japan scored three runs in the bottom of the 8th to sneak out a win in the Tokyo Dome.
Japan got an early 1-0 in the first inning, only to see Cuba respond with 2 in the top of the 2nd. When Japan even the score in the bottom of the 3rd, Cuba responded with 2 more in the top of the 4th. After Japan put up two more runs in the bottom of the 5th to tie the game at 4, Cuba came back with another run in the top of the 6th to regain the lead. Unfortunately for them, that would be the last time they scored, with Japan tying the game at 5 in the bottom of the 6th before the 3-run blow in the 8th.
Cuba now likely needs to win out and have some luck fall their way in other games in order to have a shot at making it to Los Angeles for the tournament's final round.
Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico, 8 p.m. CDT
Netherlands vs. Cuba, 10 p.m. CDT
Other Brewers Notes:
- Wily Peralta will be returning to Brewers camp despite the fact that the Dominican Republic will play on in the tournament. Peralta was included in the team's Designated Pitcher Pool, meaning he would only be allowed to pitch in one round. Since they chose him to pitch in the first round of pool play, his time with the national team is up.
Big Wily went out with a bang, though, making a start on Sunday and striking out 6 over 4 innings, allowing just two hits and a run. His run in the tournament ends with a 2.25 ERA, and now he'll return to Maryvale in hopes of securing a spot in the Brewers' rotation.
- By virtue of Mexico getting the short end of the tiebreaker stick, Carlos Torres will also be returning to Brewers camp this week.