Pitch count impacts from Tuesday's WBC games & a
couple of other notes:
Dominican Republic: Daniel Cabrera came up
huge in Tuesday's win over Venezuela for the Dominicans (no hits, one walk,
seven strikeouts in four innings, 60 pitches). However, both Cabrera and
Francisco Liriano (55 pitches in relief) are now ineligible for the semifinal on
Saturday. Duaner Sanchez, working on back-to-back nights, threw 25 pitches in
the ninth to earn the save (walking the bases loaded before getting the last
out), but Sanchez will be eligible on Saturday. Expect Bartolo Colon to start on Saturday (opponent TBD) on five days' rest; except for
Cabrera and Liriano, every other Dominican pitcher will be eligible.
Venezuela: Only three pitchers worked
Tuesday, with the lion's shares going to Freddy Garcia (65 pitches) and Kelvim
Escobar (47). Venezuela was eliminated on Tuesday, so their players ought to be
back at their MLB camps NLT Thursday. Three pitchers that stand out as not
getting a lot of work during the WBC are Victor Zambrano (only one appearance,
for five pitches, after the March 7 opener), Gustavo Chacin (just 15 pitches
over two appearances) and Tony Armas (only one appearance, 18 pitches, during
the entire WBC).
All those big sluggers in Tuesday's game, and
the final score comes up 2-1, with the three runs scoring on a bobbled grounder
to third, a fielder's choice grounder to second, and a passed ball. Go figure.
Mexico: Esteban Loaiza threw 75 pitches in
his start against Japan on Tuesday. He's now ineligible for the semifinal on
Saturday, but Mexico now appears unlikely to advance. Mexico's next game will be
on Thursday against Team USA, with Loaiza and Rodrigo Lopez ineligible; that
start would go either to Oliver Perez or Mexican leaguer Francisco Campos. If
Mexico is eliminated on Wednesday (see below), they may send a lot of their MLB
players (not just Perez, but position players like Jorge Cantu and Vinny
Castilla as well) back to their camps and use a lineup consisting mostly of
Mexican League players against the US.
Japan: Akinori Otsuka pitched the ninth
inning of Japan's 6-1 win. Since he pitched in that spot and did not pitch in
the much closer Japan-USA game Sunday, it appears Otsuka will not be appearing
as a closer for Japan going forward.
On Wednesday, Puerto Rico hosts Cuba; winner
goes the semis, loser is eliminated. Dicky Gonzalez will start for Puerto Rico,
for whom all pitchers are eligible Wednesday except Javy Vazquez and Joel
Piniero. The most likely starting possibilities for Cuba are Yuniesky Maya,
Ormari Romero or Yadier Pedroso. Pedro Luis Lazo and Yadel Marti, both of whom
topped 70 pitches in Cuba's win over Venezuela on Sunday, are ineligible. (It
would have been great to see Cuba's best pitcher in this game, but they
left 24-year-old Danny Betancourt at home due to defection risk, whoops,
an unspecified injury.) Still no word at press time on the status of sluggers
Carlos Delgado (elbow; took BP Tuesday) or Cuba's Yulieski Gourriel (hand, hit
by pitch; left Monday's game in the eighth).
In Wednesday's other game, Japan faces the
undefeated Koreans. The winner clinches a semifinal berth; the loser can't be
eliminated until we do the tiebreaker math after Thursday's US-Mexico game. The
United States will be eliminated if Japan wins but scores seven runs or less
against Korea. A win by Japan by any score eliminates Mexico. Shunsuke Watanabe
and Sunny Kim are expected to start, just as they did in the Korea-Japan first
round game in Tokyo on March 5. For Korea, all pitchers are eligible on
Wednesday except for Jae Seo, while Japan has everyone eligible except
Koji Uehara (started Sunday) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (five innings, no runs, just
one hit Tuesday against Mexico).