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Today, Jason Marquis, Ike Davis, Craig Breslow, and Ryan Lavarnway are going to be playing meaningful baseball in late September. No, they aren’t playing for a Major League Baseball team that’s in a divisional or wild card race. Instead, they’ll be representing Israel in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers, and they are just one win away from booking a trip to South Korea for the WBC in 2017.
Israel is coming off of a tense 1-0 victory over Brazil in the semis on Friday night. Cardinals minor leaguer Corey Baker threw five shutout innings, and then White Sox prospect Brad Goldberg capped off a good performance from the bullpen to eke out the 1-0 win and shutout the Brazilians. Instead of there being a semifinal rematch in the finals, Great Britain shocked Brazil — who is managed by Barry Larkin — by winning 4-3 and getting the final out by catching Brazil’s designated hitter trying to steal third base.
Israel will be the favorites to win this evening’s game at MCU Park in Brooklyn (6:00 PM ET on worldbaseballclassic.com) and it makes sense — they’ve already beaten Great Britain in the preliminary stage of this particular qualifying pool, and they just have more talent. While the Brits do have plenty of minor league talent on their roster, Israel has eight players who have seen the big leagues and played regularly at that level, to boot. They’ve also been in this position before — back in 2013, they made the qualifying final but fell in a rematch against Spain. It’s clear that Israel is trying to avoid a repeat of that moment, and if they can get the job done against Great Britain today, then the full-strength Israel team could be one of the more interesting teams in next year’s WBC.
- Congratulations are in order for the Nationals, who clinched the NL East last night and will be returning to the Postseason.
- While Bryce Harper didn’t come close to matching his MVP season from last season, the rest of the Nationals stepped their game up and helped bring the divisional title back.
- Meanwhile in the AL East, the Red Sox are getting closer and closer to clinching that division and are now on a 10-game winning streak.
- Also, even more congratulations are in order since the Red Sox are now guaranteed of at least a playoff spot.
- The Blue Jays picked up a win against the Yankees yesterday and they’ve now got a little bit of breathing room at the top of the AL Wild Card race.
- On the other hand, the Tigers could’ve had a big win but a blown save from Francisco Rodriguez put a damper on things in Detroit.
- On the NL side, the Giants, Mets, and Cardinals are currently in a dead heat for the two spots — just what Major League Baseball wants during this time of year!
- The Giants did pick up a win on Saturday against the Padres, and Eduardo Nunez’s dramatic catch of a pop-up foul contributed to their win.
- The Dodgers are now on the doorstep of making it to the postseason for a fourth-straight season.
- The rebuilding Braves have actually been playing well lately, and as a result, interim manager Brian Snitker has become a serious candidate to become their full-time manager.