WBC Notes: Rodriguez Starts, USA Wins
Wandy Rodriguez got his first start of the World Baseball Classic and pitched well through 3.1 innings, before being taken out due to his pitch count. Rodriguez battled in the first innings, having seven pitch AB’s against both Angel Pagan and Carlos Beltran. He threw a total of 21 pitches, allowing just an infield single to the Royals Irving Falu.
In the second inning, Rodriguez allowed a single to Mike Aviles to lead off the inning. He then struck out two batters in a row, before getting a deep fly out to right field to end the inning. He needed 16 pitches to get out of the second.
In the third inning, the Pirates left-hander threw 16 pitches to the three batters he faced. With one out, he walked Angel Pagan on seven pitches, but got Falu to hit into an inning-ending double play.
With 53 pitches already, Rodriguez was able to face two batters in the fourth inning before being pulled. Like all other pitchers in the first round of the WBC, he was limited to 65 pitches. Rodriguez gave up a single to Alex Rios, then got a ground out from Beltran that advanced Rios to second base. He was replaced on the mound by Lorenzo Barcelo, who served up a first pitch homer to Aviles, closing the line on Rodriguez. In 3.1 innings, he allowed one run on three hits and a walk, while striking out two batters. Rodriguez threw 61 pitches total, 37 for strikes.
Team Dominican ended up winning the game 4-2, giving them the top seed in their pool. In the other pool, Team Canada and Team USA squared off in a “win or go home” game and Team USA pulled out a come-from-behind 9-4 win. Jameson Taillon made the start for Canada and allowed two runs(one earned) over four innings. His recap can be read here. The game was even more important for Team USA, who would’ve had to go through the qualifying tournament for the 2017 WBC if they lost. Instead of finishing fourth in the pool, the win gave them to top spot over Italy, whom they beat Saturday.
With Canada eliminated, that leaves just two Pirates players still in the tournament, Jason Grilli and Wandy Rodriguez. Italy and the Dominican Republic will face off Tuesday afternoon at Marlins Park. Team USA will take out Puerto Rico that night. The next day will feature the loser of each of those games, facing off against each other, with the loser of that game going home. The winning teams from Tuesday, will then play each other Thursday. If he stayed on his normal schedule, Rodriguez would pitch Friday, which would be a win or go home game. There is no guarantee that the Dominicans will still be alive in the tournament that day. If they lose twice before hand, they will be eliminated. If they win both games, they won’t play until Saturday.
In the other bracket, Cuba and the Netherlands will play a game Monday(6 AM EST/ 7 PM local time) and that game is a win or go home game as well. The winner will advance to the finals, but first they have to face Japan to see who will get the better seed. Netherlands beat Cuba 6-2 on Friday, so to get to the finals they have to pull a second upset over one of the favorites in the tournament.