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WBC: Tuesday notes
Posted by Gus Papadopoulos at 3/15/2006 11:02:00 AM
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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).

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