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This round of World Baseball Classic qualifiers is rapidly reaching its conclusion, with two games last night deciding the last teams for the finals tonight. In the Panama City Qualifier, France got out to an early lead against Panama, but once the score was tied in the fifth inning, Panama just kept adding on. France lost 7-4, and Panama advanced to the final qualifying round. Carlos Ruiz didn't wow the hometown crowd with his majestic home runs like he did on Thursday night, but with three walks he was no slouch.
Things were more dramatic in the Mexicali Qualifier. Nicaragua and Czech Republic played a long heart breaker (well, for one team) that lasted 11 innings. The Czech started strong and scored three in the first, and kept Nicaragua from putting up any runs until the fifth inning. That happens to be when errors -- they would end up with four -- started to become a factor for the Czech team. A throwing error allowed a second run to score in the fifth inning. Two throwing errors in the eighth allowed Nicaragua to tie the game. And it would stay tied until the top of the 11th, when Nicaragua would break out with three runs. The Czech team was one swing away from tying it again in the bottom of the inning -- they'd scored two runs and had runners on the corners with one out! -- but two straight strikeouts ended the game and sent Nicaragua on to the next round.
In tonight's final rounds, Panama will take on Colombia at 7 p.m. ET, and Nicaragua faces off against Mexico at 10 p.m. ET. The Nicaragua-Mexico matchup intrigues me, and not just because major leaguers Oliver Perez and Adrian Gonzalez will be playing on a team where they are by far the most talented players. But because Mexico beat the absolute crap out of Nicaragua when they played just two days ago. I wonder if they'll be able to make a better showing than their 11-0 beatdown on Friday. If you're intrigued as well, fire up your computer and give these games a watch. You can catch them on http://www.worldbaseballclassic.com.
- Another day, another development in the ongoing Adam LaRoche saga. Adam Eaton weighed in with his not-at-all over dramatic thoughts, and South Side Sox has a breakdown of some of the recent statements about this exciting kerfuffle.
- While the White Sox clubhouse is starting to resemble a mutinous pirate ship, the Cubs are getting an energy-efficient lighting upgrade.
- A misread MRI means that Bronson Arroyo's career isn't over and all he needs is 7-10 days recovery time. That's the kind of misdiagnosis we all hope for.
- Here's hoping that a change of scenery can do former first-round draft pick Jesse Biddle some good, as the Braves have claimed him off waivers from the Phillies.
- The Cardinals have signed Ruben Tejada, so at least he won't have to face the Dodgers any more than he would have with the Mets.
- Corey Kluber was traded to Cleveland almost six years ago, back when he was just a fringe prospect. Seems like that turned out OK for Cleveland
- Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro has some, well, interesting thoughts about player options.
- The pitcher is hitting eighth in what Grant Brisbee thinks will be the Giants' opening day roster, a.k.a. the roster of the future 2016 World Series champions. It is an even year, after all.