Today was probably the most exciting day so far in this year's World Baseball Classic. Puerto Rico, Italy and the Dominican Republic clinched spots in the second round, Mexico, Chinese Taipei, Spain and Venezuela were eliminated and a hockey fight broke out at a baseball game.
First are the Indian updates. Carlos Santana started at catcher again for the Dominican Republic, who clinched a second round birth by defeating Spain 6-3. Santana did something other than walk in this game as hit a solo home run and knocked in another while going 1 for 5. In other Pool C news, Asdrubal Cabrera will be returning to Goodyear after an 0-3 showing during Venezuela's loss to Puerto Rico. Mike Aviles had another good game on the other side of the field, knocking in three of Puerto Rico's six runs with a sac fly and a single. Akron Aeros pitcher Giovanni Soto also playing, pitching in his first game of the tournament. He went three scoreless, hitless innings and struck out two. Former Indians Juan Rincon and Fernando Cabrera were featured in this game as well.
In International relations news, team Mexico decided to take out their self pity on the Canadian national team when they were on the verge of elimination. After catcher Chris Robinson singled on a bunt with a six run lead in the ninth inning, team Mexico pitcher Arnold Leon retaliated with two very inside balls and finally hit the next batter, Rene Tosoni. As Tosoni was walking to first, Mexican catcher, Sebastian Valle grabbed Tosoni and the fight ensued. Seven players were ejected as were at least two team Mexico fans (one of whom threw a baseball at Canada's first base coach, Larry Walker).
The fault for the entire incident has to fall completely on team Mexico and pitcher Arnold Leon as WBC tie-breaking rules force teams to run up the score. If team USA had lost the next game against Italy, but won against team Canada, run differential would be the difference between which team advanced and which went home (or back to Spring Training). With a ten run loss looming behind them, team Canada needed to score as much as possible against Mexico to make up for this possibility. They were not trying to show up the home team.
In the final game of the night, team USA recorded their first win against the 2-0 team Italia. David Wright provided all the runs necessary with a towering grand slam to left in the fifth inning. The United States pitching was much improved over last night, and Ross Detwiler was especially worth note as he threw the final four innings without allowing a run, earning himself a save in the process.
Sunday will see the final games of round one for the Western countries and the continuation of round two in Japan. Team Japan will face the Netherlands with the winner moving on to San Francisco while the loser will need to play one last game against Cuba to try and make the finals. Pool C will wrap up with two meaningless games featuring Spain against Venezuela and Puerto Rico against the Dominican Republic. The most interesting match-up will be the win or go home battle between the recently vicious team Canada and your own team USA. Vinnie Pestano was not needed in the game against Italy so he should be fresh and ready to go as Derek Holland will get the start for the Americans.
I though that Canadians were supposed to be a peaceful people. Here's my view of the fight.