With three games on tap for the day, the World Baseball Classic did not disappoint.
Many expected Mexico to win their game rather easily, but in the first Italy jumped on them early, scoring two runs on a pair of singles by Alex Liddi and Mike Costanzo. Mexico would respond swiftly however, scoring three runs on a Jorge Cantu bases-clearing double. Mexico's starter Rodrigo Lopez was staked to a lead that he certainly would hope to hold on to.
In the bottom of the second, Mexico tacked a fourth run on when Ramiro Pena hit an RBI-double. At this point it looked like Mexico had restored order and would be cruising to a win, but that was far from the case. The teams would trade zeroes until the top of the fourth inning, when Italy catcher Drew Butera would hit a game-tying two-run home run.
Mexico would regain the lead in the bottom of the fifth, when Luis Cruz would drive the go-ahead run in with a double. The teams would again trade zeroes until the fateful ninth inning, during which Italy would score two runs and take the lead. Italy put runners on first and second, and had Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo at the plate. Rizzo hit what appeared to be a measly fly-ball to left field, when Edgar Gonzalez would have the ball pop out of his glove and drop to the ground. Rizzo ended up on second as two runs would score to put the Italians ahead 6-5.
The game would not end without one final stand by Mexico, as they would load the bases with two outs for Jorge Cantu. Cantu worked his way into a 3-2 count, but would ground out to second base to end the game. This is a huge win for Italy, who was not receiving much buzz before the tournament. Tomorrow night's game with the United States becomes even more vital for the Mexicans, as they look to advance past pool play.
As both the Yankees and Phillies can attest to, the Dominicans can hit. Add Venezuela to the list of teams that now know that, as they were pummeled by the Dominican bats to the tune of 9 runs and 13 hits. Hanley Ramirez hit an absolute bomb to left field, and made sure that he took the time to admire it, then think a bit more about it, then flip his bat, then begin a slight jog around the bases. All kidding aside, he destroyed it.
Robinson Cano, the lone Yankee who is still healthy, was 3-5 with 3 RBIs. Nelson Cruz was 2-4 with 2 RBIs, and Carlos Santana was walked four times tonight. This game was interrupted by a 50-minute rain-delay in the early going, but after two innings the Dominicans were already up by five runs.
The lasting impact of this game for both sides could be the recovery-time of their pitchers, both of whom were interrupted by the aforementioned rain-delay.
The upstart Netherlands team continues to be a pest, as they beat up on Cuba for a surprise 6-2 victory. The Dutch squad got a bulk of their runs via the long ball, with a solo shot from Curt Smith in the second and a three-run blast from Jonathan Schoop in the sixth. Schoop also plated an insurance run with a double to left in the eighth, scoring Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who had an RBI knock of his own earlier in the game.
The Cuban offense was anything but quiet, racking up 12 hits on the day, but they couldn't do anything with runners in scoring position. Their pair of runs came on solo blasts from Alfredo Despaigne and Yulieski Gurriel, but everything else was just one-base hits.
All World Baseball Classic Scores:
Italy 6, Mexico 5
Dominican Republic 9, Venezuela 3
Netherlands 6, Cuba 2