Archive for the ‘México’ Category

Japan, Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico to host first round

Yes, the stadium to play first round of 2009 World Baseball Classic is decided.

As in 2006, Tokyo Dome and Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, will host first-round games. In 2009, those venues will be joined for the first time by Rogers Centre in Toronto and Foro Sol Stadium in Mexico City.

Rogers Centre is the home ballpark of the Blue Jays, and Major League Spring Training exhibition games have been played at the 27,940-seat facility in Foro Sol Stadium in Mexico City.

The 16-team field is the same as ’06, though an expansion of the field to 24 countries and territories with qualifying rounds as a preface to reach the main competition is under consideration for 2013.

Next year’s brackets are as follows:

Pool A — China, Chinese Taipei, Japan and Korea will begin play on March 5 in Tokyo Dome.

Pool B — Australia, Cuba, Mexico and South Africa, from March 8-12 in Mexico City.

Pool C — Canada, Italy, the U.S. and Venezuela, from March 8-12 in Toronto.

Pool D — Dominican Republic, the Netherlands, Panama and Puerto Rico, from March 7-11 in Puerto Rico.

Venues for the second round, plus the combined semifinals and finals are still to be determined.

The semifinals and finals were sold out at San Diego’s 45,000-seat home of the Padres in 2006. Japan vanquished Cuba, 10-6, to win the tournament and Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who now toils for the Red Sox, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

Attendance for the ’06 tournament at its seven venues was 737,112 tickets sold, a major coup considering that the Asian bracket didn’t reach the 80 percent capacity in Tokyo Dome that was originally projected.

Several important figure and host representative has talked about 2009 World Baseball Classic:

Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Major League Baseball Commissioner, said:

“The 2009 World Baseball Classic will further demonstrate the remarkable global growth of our game,” “There has been incredible demand to host the games of the second World Baseball Classic, and we are pleased to have four international destinations as our first-round venues. We are excited about the 2009 World Baseball Classic and look forward to next March.”

Don Fehr, the executive director of the Players’ Association, said:

“The best baseball players in the world are looking forward with great anticipation to playing in the 2009 World Baseball Classic,” “Implementation of double-elimination and crossover games to the World Baseball Classic next year will make the games even more intense and the tournament even more exciting for both players and fans. It will be an unforgettable experience.”

Dr. Harvey Schiller, President, International Baseball Federation (IBAF), said:

“On behalf of the entire IBAF membership, we are excited to once again participate in this important event. The cooperation between IBAF, Major League Baseball, and the Major League Baseball Players Association is at an all time high. We all look forward to this event as a prelude to our return to the Olympic program in 2016 and beyond.”

Takuo Takihana, Chairman, The Yomiuri Shimbun, remarked:

“Since The Yomiuri Shimbun hosted the first US-Japan All-Star Tour in 1931, and invited Babe Ruth to Japan in 1934, we have dedicated our soul to spread this wonderful sport of baseball throughout the world. It is our great honor to be named the host of the Round One games in Tokyo once again, following 2006. With pride, as the largest selling newspaper company in the world, with a daily circulation of 10 million copies per day, we promise you to stage a supreme baseball event.”

Carlos Hermosillo Conade, Minister of Sport of Mexico, said:

“The government of Mexico, under President Felipe Calderón, is committed to working with the businesses of our country to bring international events like the World Baseball Classic to Mexico to demonstrate our hospitality, culture and organizing capabilities. We have worked very closely with ALHÜVA Entretenimiento, represented by the enthusiastic sports promoter Alejandro Hütt, and Mexico City is very excited to be host of Round 1 games at Foro Sol Stadium. For the enormous baseball fan base in our country, it will be especially exciting to be able to see the Mexican National Team filled with MLB stars compete in Mexico for the first time ever.”

Paul Godfrey, President and CEO, Toronto Blue Jays and Rogers Centre, added:

“This is a world class event for Rogers Centre and the City of Toronto. What better place to hold the World Baseball Classic than in a city that has such a strong international reach? The raised global profile of the tournament, along with the great performance of teams from the United States, Venezuela, Italy and our own Team Canada, will make these games most exciting as fans will see their favorite players demonstrate an unprecedented level of passion and dedication to their national teams.”

Antonio Muñoz, MB Sports Chairman of the Board, said:

“Over the years, we have brought to Puerto Rico the best baseball there is, including the historic games of the inaugural World Baseball Classic. We are very proud to once again be selected to host the world’s premier international baseball tournament and expect Hiram Bithorn Stadium to be a showcase for thrilling match-ups between the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands, Panama and our home team representing Puerto Rico.”

About World Baseball Classic, Inc.
World Baseball Classic, Inc. is a company created at the direction of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to operate the World Baseball Classic tournament. The tournament, which is sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), is supported by MLB, the MLBPA, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), their respective players associations and other leagues and players from around the world.

About the World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic is the premier international baseball tournament, sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation, and features the best players in the world competing for their home countries and territories. In March 2006, 486 players – 235 of them from MLB organizations – representing 16 teams from across the globe competed in the inaugural event. More than 740,000 fans from 48 states and 15 countries attended games and millions more watched on TV as Team Japan was crowned the first-ever World Baseball Classic Champion. Broadcast by 48 media outlets in 10 languages to 205 countries and territories around the world, the inaugural tournament had 50 official sponsors and 21 official licensees. Media members representing 25 different nations attended the 39 games in seven host venues across three countries/territories. The next tournament will be held in March 2009 and will again feature 16 of the greatest baseball-playing nations in the world. The tournament will be held every four years thereafter, with plans in place to expand the participant field beginning in 2013.

2009 World Baseball Classic to feature same 16 teams

After further discussion, the 16-team field is set for the second World Baseball Classic, which is scheduled for March of next year. Though it is exactly the same as the inaugural edition in 2006, it may be the last time the governing bodies of the tournament restrict the competition to that few teams.

Under consideration for 2013 is an expansion of the field to 24 countries and territories with qualifying rounds as a preface to reach the main competition.

“As the level of baseball continues to rise worldwide, it is essential that the World Baseball Classic expand its field to give the growing number of formidable teams the opportunity to participate,” said Paul Archey, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president of international business operations. “In accordance with the tournament’s goal of growing and enhancing interest in the game, the Steering Committee has strongly endorsed the expansion of the competition for the 2013 event.”

But that’s down the road. Next year’s field will again feature defending title winner Japan, runner-up Cuba, the U.S., Dominican Republic, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela — all teams that qualified for the second round last time and thus received automatic berths for ’09. It was announced on Feb. 20th that Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Italy, Netherlands, Panama, and South Africa were sent invitations.

Similar to the last time selection process, the Steering Committee determined the 16 teams for the 2009 World Baseball Classic based on criteria established to create the most highly-competitive international baseball event in the world. Some of the key factors involved in team evaluation and selection included: strength of native player base, number of professional players, international rankings, viability of domestic baseball programs, participant’s impact on baseball development in country/territory and diverse global representation.

“There has been significant improvement in the level of play internationally and indeed, Major League ranks include even more players from across the world,” said Gene Orza, chief operating officer of the Players’ Association. “The 16 teams selected best represent the breadth of quality play around the globe, which meets a key tournament objective, showing the world how far baseball has come internationally. If you liked the tournament last time around, wait ’til you see her this time.”

The venues are expected to be announced next month with all four first-round competitions being played outside the U.S., which will host Round 2, the semi-finals and finals, as it did in 2006.

Toronto remains a “very strong candidate” to host one of the four groups in first-round play, a source with knowledge of the event’s planning told The Canadian Press. Canada is likely to be joined by the United States, a Latin American country and a non-traditional baseball country in the first round, with the games being held at the Rogers Centre, home of the Major League Team Toronto Blue Jays.

Attendance for the ’06 tournament at its seven venues was 737,112 tickets sold. The semi-finals and finals were sold out at San Diego’s 45,000-seat PETCO Park, undoubtedly a front-runner to host the Classic’s finale again in 2009.

It was the first time that all Major League players were allowed to represent their native lands in an international baseball tournament. The baseball competition in the Summer Olympics, which is slated for Beijing in August, includes non-25-man roster MLB players only.

“The intensity in the stands as well as the intensity on the playing field was absolutely remarkable, and I’m not sure that going into it you could have felt that,” Commissioner Bud Selig said at the time regarding the legacy of the Classic. “I’m very confident that this will be the platform we use to take this sport internationally to the dimension that I want to take it and believe that we will.”

About the World Baseball Classic Steering Committee
The World Baseball Classic Steering Committee consists of 12 members representing professional baseball leagues, Club owners, players, international baseball federations and other international organizations affiliated with the game of baseball (for a complete list of members, see below). The Steering Committee provides ongoing guidance regarding the development of the premier international baseball tournament, the World Baseball Classic. The focus of the committee is to ensure that the tournament continues to maximize its potential to develop the game of baseball worldwide.

Steering Committee Members
Major League Baseball (2)

Tim Brosnan, Executive Vice President, Business
Rob Manfred, Executive Vice President, Labor Relations

MLB Players Association (2)
Gene Orza, Chief Operating Officer
Michael Weiner, General Counsel

International BAseball Federation (2)
Harvey Schiller, President
Eduardo de Bello, Panama

Nippon Professional Baseball (1)
Kazuo Hasegawa, Executive Secretary

Japan Professional Baseball Players Association (1)
Toru Matsubara, Executive Director

Korean Baseball Organization (1)
Il-Sung Ha, Secretary General

Korean Professional Baseball Players Association (1)
Jin-kyun Na, Secretary General

Members-at-large (2)
Gyo Ishiguro, Chief Officer, Culture & Sports Projects, Yomiuri Shimbun
Roland Betts, President & Founder, Chelsea Piers, L.P.

About World Baseball Classic, Inc.
World Baseball Classic, Inc. is a company created at the direction of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to operate the World Baseball Classic tournament. The tournament, which is sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), is supported by MLB, the MLBPA, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), their respective players associations and other leagues and players from around the world.

About the World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic is the premier international baseball tournament and features the best players in the world competing for their home countries and territories. In March 2006, 16 teams from across the globe competed in the inaugural event, which was sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF). More than 740,000 fans from 48 states and 15 countries attended games and millions more watched on TV as Team Japan was crowned the first-ever World Baseball Classic Champion. The next tournament is scheduled for March 2009 and will be held every four years thereafter.

First eight teams of 2009 WBC decide

Yes, there will be another World Baseball Classic.

In 2009.

A joint steering committee overseeing the tournament made official on April 20th. what long has been presumed: that the second international baseball competition to include Major League players will be staged in March 2009, with dates and venues yet to be determined.

Additionally, all eight teams that advance to the second round in first World Baseball Classic — the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela — will receive the first invitations. The remaining eight will be determined and unveiled by the seven steering committee members in December 2007, but it will be a tough decision, for there are many countries interested in participating.

“We are extremely pleased with the impressive results of the 2006 World Baseball Classic and excited about the momentum and anticipation it has generated for the upcoming 2009 event,” said Bob DuPuy, MLB’s president and chief operating officer. “As international baseball continues to develop and thrive, and the supply of quality baseball nations grows, the task of selecting the 16 deserving teams has become increasingly difficult,” DuPuy said.

The eight countries that were eliminated in the inaugural first round were China, Chinese Taipei, South Africa, Canada, Australia, Panama, Italy and The Netherlands. There has been a desire from other baseball-playing countries to be included in the 16-team field, and some that so far don’t play the game. Israel, for example, is starting its first professional baseball league this summer and is seeking a berth in the next Classic.

“Numerous countries, far more than we currently can invite, are clamoring to get in,” said Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of the MLB players association and its representative to the steering committee. “Given the limitations on the size of the field that we face at this date, we want to make sure that the widespread interest in participation gets the attention it deserves.”

The first tournament was such a rousing success that the steering committee announced a dispersal of $8 million to the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), plus the baseball federations of the 16 nations and commonwealths that participated based on their finish in the tournament. The federations are expected to distribute a minimum of $3.3 million to their local baseball programs. And in addition, the IBAF will receive $1 million to continue developing the game globally.

Attendance at the seven venues was 737,112 tickets sold, the semifinals and finals were sold out at PETCO Park, undoubtedly a front runner to host the Classic’s climax again in 2009. The steering committee said it would begin taking bids for venues immediately.

Last time, the games were also hosted in San Juan, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Ariz., Anaheim and Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Japan won the initial tournament from March 3-20, 2006 with a squad featuring just two major league players by defeating Cuba 10-6 at San Diego’s PETCO Park, while Communist Cuba made it to the final with the latest generation of their amateur dynasty.

Many US major leaguers shunned the Classic in favor of pre-season workouts with club teams in advance of the April opening of the US season. Some had suggested moving the event to November, after the major league World Series, but major league baseball commissioner Bud Selig had voiced doubts about a change.

Thursday’s meeting in New York was the second for the steering committee, which is made up of officials from Major League Baseball, Nippon Professional Baseball, the IBAF, and representatives for the MLB and NPB players associations.

Mexico regenve, Japan in semifinal!

No one can expect this; Mexico’s 2-1 victory to USA let Japan to join Korea, Cuba and the Dominican Republic at San Diego’s PETCO Park for the semifinals.

Pool 1:
Mexico 2, United States 1

USA             - 000 100 000   --   1
MEXICO          - 001 010 00x   --   2

The bell tolled for Team USA on Thursday night at Angel Stadium, ending the Americans’ quest to win the championship of the inaugural World Baseball Classic. Even with Roger Clemens starting perhaps the last game of his illustrious career, one of the greatest assemblages of U.S.-born players ever bowed to archrival Mexico in the final game of the second round and was eliminated from the tournament.

Playing solely for national pride, Team Mexico got two RBIs from Jorge Cantu and a brilliant night out of its bullpen on the way to a tense 2-1 victory in the second-round finale for both teams in front of 38,264 fans at Angel Stadium. Lefty starter Oliver Perez and seven relievers held Team USA to three hits as Mexico improved to 3-3 for the tournament — and eliminated its rivals to the north from title contention while avenging a 2-0 loss in the first round in the process.

Dominican Republic in Final Four! Japan still has hope!

By defeated the Venezuela, Dominican Republic become the first team in Final Four of World Baseball Classic, and after winning against Mexico, Japan still have hope to advance.

Pool 1:
Japan 6, Mexico 1

JAPAN           - 000 410 001   --   6
MEXICO          - 000 000 010   --   1

It probably was more important than ever for Japan to get off to a good start in its World Baseball Classic game against Mexico. An early toe-stubbing could have further demoralized a team that already spent too many hours down in the dumps following a disputed loss to Team USA on Sunday. Well, a splendid effort by right-handed starter Daisuke Matsuzaka, and a four-run fourth inning, provided just the tonic Japan needed to climb back into Classic semifinals picture as it notched a 6-1 victory before 16,591 at Angel Stadium.

Mexico’s hopes of advancing to the semifinals of the inaugural World Baseball Classic were left hanging by the thinnest of threads at Angel Stadium with a loss to Japan. Team Mexico, 0-2 in pool play here, needs Korea (2-0) to beat Japan (1-1) on Wednesday. Then comes the hard part. Mexico would have to defeat the United States, 1-0, in 14 innings on Thursday to advance via the tiebreaker based on total runs allowed divided by innings played on defense.

Pool 2:
Dominican Republic 2, Venezuela 1

VENEZUELA       - 000 001 000   --   1
DOMINICAN REP   - 100 000 10x   --   2

Kelvim Escobar peered in at Albert Pujols in the bottom of the seventh inning at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, and knew that Venezuela’s fate in this World Baseball Classic was likely riding on this one exchange with perhaps the finest right-handed hitter in the world. The bases were loaded, and there were two outs in a 1-1 game.

As he unleashed a fastball on the outer half of the plate, Escobar was prepared for just about anything that came his way. Except, that is, for the ball slipping off the glove of catcher Ramon Hernandez for a costly passed ball that snapped the tie, and ultimately led to the most crushing of defeats to the Dominican Republic.

In any language, the noisy celebration and party for La Republicana Dominicana is on, and its headed to Southern California. In front of a boisterous crowd of headband-wearing, flag-waving and country-loving baseball aficionados from all over the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic edged Venezuela, 2-1, to become the first team to qualify for the World Baseball Classic semifinals in San Diego.

Wrong Call let USA Won!

If you did not know how USA won, remember, it’s Bob Davidson, not Alex Rodriguez to let USA won.

Pool 1:
United States 4, Japan 3

JAPAN           - 120 000 000   --   3
USA             - 010 002 001   --   4
Two outs when winning run scored.

There is no crying in baseball, not even in the World Baseball Classic, but Team Japan could have a shed a tear or two Sunday afternoon and no one would question its sorrow. A run Japan apparently scored in the top of the eighth inning to take a 4-3 lead over Team USA was nullified, and the run Alex Rodriguez drove in with two outs in the bottom of the ninth counted, giving the home country a 4-3 victory before 32,896 flag-waving fans at Angel Stadium.

It was a game in March that had it all. Big leads. Blown leads. A disputed call. And an Alex Rodriguez base hit up the middle with the bases loaded in the bottom of ninth that saved Team USA from panic in the second round of the World Baseball Classic. The net result was a victory over the Japanese that left them shaking their collective heads as they walked off the field late Sunday afternoon at Angel Stadium.

Korea 2, Mexico 1

MEXICO          - 001 000 000   --   1
KOREA           - 200 000 00x   --   2

Seung Yeop Lee’s bat is made of dynamite, so his swing doesn’t have to be. The explosive Korean teed off on Mexico’s Rodrigo Lopez in the bottom of the first inning, sending Korea to a 2-1 win over Mexico in the World Baseball Classic in front of 42,979 at Angel Stadium on Sunday night.

One bad pitch during one long inning led to some long faces in Team Mexico’s dugout, but Rodrigo Lopez managed a smile or two nonetheless. Lopez, who gave up a two-run homer to Seung Yeop Lee in the first inning of Mexico’s loss to Korea, said “I’d say our pitching was excellent.” But Korea’s pitchers were even better, holding Team Mexico, which scored 19 runs while winning its previous two games, to five hits without a walk while striking out nine in a tense, tidy affair.

Pool 2:
Cuba 7, Venezuela 2

CUBA            - 010 005 100   --   7
VENEZUELA       - 000 000 200   --   2

In a development that could have made only Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and Cuba’s hitters happy, Venezuela manager Luis Sojo made the tough decision of taking out ace Johan Santana after five innings and 67 pitches of mastery in Sunday’s World Baseball Classic contest at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Sojo went to his bullpen, and the result was decidedly bad for Venezuela in what wound up as a 7-2 loss to Cuba.

Two days removed from the nation’s most embarrassing loss in 23 years, Cuba struck back with a bang. A pair of bangs, in fact. Frederich Cepeda and Ariel Pestano hit back-to-back home runs and Cuba rode a five-run sixth inning to a win over Venezuela. Cuba finished with twice as many hits as a Venezuelan lineup that consisted entirely of players from the American Major Leagues. Right-handers Yadel Marti and Pedro Lazo were the pitching heroes as Cuba asserted its place in the baseball world in front of 13,697 fans.

Puerto Rico 7, Dominican Republic 1

PUERTO RICO     - 000 103 300   --   7
DOMINICAN REP   - 010 000 000   --   1

The pitchers’ duel between the Dominican Republic’s Bartolo Colon and Puerto Rico’s Javier Vazquez lived up to expectations Sunday night. Both right-handers shined for five innings, shutting down opposing hitters and putting on a good show for the crowd. It’s what happened and what didn’t happen upon their departure that proved to be the difference. Puerto Rico rallied, the Dominican Republic fell apart, and in the end, it was the hometown team to remain unbeaten in four tournament games.

It was a very good day for underdogs on the Isle of Enchantment. Hours after Cuba scored a win over the favored Venezuelans, Jose Cruz Jr. drove in three runs and Carlos Beltran scored three more, as Puerto Rico eased past the Dominican Republic, 7-1, in front of 19,692 raucous fans at sold-out Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

Five teams advanced!

Anothr five teams advanced to the second round today, with Mexico in Pool B, Cuba and Puerto Rico in Pool C, Dominican Republic and Venezuela in Pool D. As for the final spot, Canada or USA have final chance depends on the result of USA vs. South Africa game.

Pool B:
Mexico 9, Canada 1

MEXICO          - 420 201 000   --   9
CANADA          - 000 001 000   --   1

The Canadians came, they saw and they almost conquered. During a roller-coaster three-day run in the inaugural World Baseball Classic, Team Canada had to come from behind in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat a plucky South Africa team, then upset Team USA, but fizzled when all the Canadian dollars were on the line on Thursday night against Mexico. Losing to the Mexicans, 9-1, with a chance to wrap up a berth in the second round a day after beating the Americans.

When he travels in his native Mexico, Jorge Cantu hears one sport talked about more than any other. Team Mexico delivered that message on Thursday night, when it beat Canada, 9-1, to advance to the World Baseball Classic’s second round as Pool B’s No. 1 seed.

Pool C:
Cuba 11, Netherlands 2

CUBA            - 200 400 401   --  11
NETHERLANDS     - 000 002 000   --   2

The Netherlands’ hopes of advancing in the World Baseball Classic came to an end on Thursday night, as Cuba mashed its way to an 11-2 victory to lock up a spot in the second round of the tournament.

If there was ever any doubt that Cuba could compete in a tournament that featured the best teams it had ever faced, the club removed it with an extra-inning victory against Panama in its first game. Any remaining questions were obliterated Thursday with Cuba’s win against the Netherlands. More questions? Doubts, perhaps? The Cubans sure hope so.

Pool D:
Dominican Republic 8, Italy 3

ITALY           - 102 000 000   --   3
DOMINICAN REP   - 202 030 10x   --   8

The Dominican Republic performed as expected on Thursday, outslugging team Italy in an 8-3 win before a sellout crowd of 9,949 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex. This means the Dominican advances to the next round of the World Baseball Classic. This also will likely end Italy’s Classic run.

Burdened with two errors by third baseman Mark Saccomanno at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex on Thursday afternoon, Italy closed its schedule in Pool D with loss to the Dominican Republic. However, Team Italy has no reason to be ashamed. But it appears its run in the inaugural World Baseball Classic has come to an end.

Venezuela 2, Australia 0

VENEZUELA       - 010 001 000   --   2
AUSTRALIA       - 000 000 000   --   0

It wasn’t supposed to be this close, and if ever there was a moral victory, this probably was it. Although Venezuela prevailed over Australia, 2-0, the losing club made this contest much more competitive than anyone could have expected.

The last leg of the initial journey had a few more bumps than expected. But Venezuela emerged victorious against a pesky Australian team and punched its ticket into the second round of the World Baseball Classic.

USA beated by Canada.

Lots of surprise happened again. USA lost, Cuba won in the extra innings, still not sure who will advance to the second round.

Pool B:
Canada 8, United States 6

CANADA          - 113 210 000   --   8
USA             - 000 060 000   --   6

Less than 24 hours after nearly falling to an unheralded South Africa team, Canada made some serious waves in the World Baseball Classic’s Pool B by beating Team USA, 8-6, on Wednesday afternoon at Chase Field. Canada now controls its own destiny to advance to the tournament’s next round entering its Thursday meeting with Mexico.

Team USA’s road to the second round of the World Baseball Classic just got a little rougher. After Wednesday’s stunning 8-6 loss to Canada at Chase Field, there is one fact that stands alone: The United States does not control its fate.

Mexico 10, South Africa 4

SOUTH AFRICA    - 000 300 100   --   4
MEXICO          - 212 031 10x   --  10

One thing has become clear about South Africa’s entry in the World Baseball Classic. It may be a bit short on talent, but it has an excess of heart. South Africa battled hard Wednesday night, but couldn’t hold off a relentless Team Mexico offense and fell, 9-4, in a World Baseball Classic game in front of a boisterous crowd of 7,937 at Scottsdale Stadium.

After being shut out in their first World Baseball Classic game, Mexico scored at least once in six of the first seven innings. The predominately Mexico-backed crowd, wearing mostly red and green clothing, hooted, hollered and sang throughout the game, perhaps sensing that their team was putting itself right back in the thick of Pool B play in the tournament and possible trip to Anaheim this weekend for the second round.

Pool C:
Cuba 8, Panama 6

CUBA            - 002 000 202 02  --   8
PANAMA          - 010 003 002 00  --   6

Just when Team Panama appeared to have momentum on its side, Cuba showed the crowd at Hiram Bithorn Stadium why it shouldn’t be counted out of the World Baseball Classic despite its lack of established Major Leaguers. Cuba dealt Panama a crushing 8-6 loss in 11 innings on Wednesday afternoon, mounting a two-out rally to win its first game of the event.

Cuba second baseman Yulieski Gourriel and his teammates reminded the 6,129 in attendance at Hiram Bithorn Stadium and anyone who was paying attention the reason for the season — and the tournament. It’s about baseball and pride, not to mention a healthy competition between countries.

Puerto Rico 8, Netherlands 3

PUERTO RICO     - 101 102 201   --   8
NETHERLANDS     - 000 120 000   --   3

Behind three home runs from three of the country’s biggest stars, Puerto Rico powered past the Netherlands, 8-3, in front of 15,570 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium on Wednesday, and continues to inch toward securing a spot in the second round of the World Baseball Classic, also to be held in the stadium.

The Netherlands made a game of it for five innings, carrying a tie score into the sixth, but Puerto Rico came out swinging that inning and never looked back, taking victory in the nightcap of the Pool C day-night doubleheader. The Netherlands was actually the home team in the tilt, though the crowd was squarely behind Puerto Rico, which was dressed in its road grey uniforms.

Pool D:
Venezuela 6, Italy 0

ITALY           - 000 000 000   --   0
VENEZUELA       - 101 110 20x   --   6

One night after exacting the mercy rule (winning by 10 runs) on Australia, Team Italy managed just two hits against a strong Venezuela pitching staff to drop a 6-0. A capacity crowd of 10,101 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex was firmly in the corner of the Venezuelans, whose pitching staff had few problems.

Miguel Cabrera homered for the second straight game and drove in two runs as Venezuela rebounded from a loss in its World Baseball Classic opener. Freddy Garcia struck out seven and allowed one hit in 3 1/3 innings for Venezuela, three other pitchers combined on a two-hitter and struck out 11. Carlos Silva gave up a hit in 3 2/3 innings, and Rafael Betancourt and Francisco Rodriguez each pitched a hitless inning for Venezuela.

World Baseball Classic all over begins!

David Ortiz - Hits game-winning HR, 12th inning, Game 4, 2004 ALCS ©Photofile
Pool B, C, D of the 2006 World Baseball Classic started to fight today, there are five intense games to play, the biggest suprise is Italy; who gets the help from Major Leaguers and itself, shutout the 2004 Athens Olympic Silver Winner Australia. Other winners are United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and Dominican Republic.

March 7 Result:
Pool B:
United States 2, Mexico 0

MEXICO          - 000 000 000   --   0
USA             - 000 100 10x   --   2

Jake Peavy and a parade of relievers combined on a four-hitter against a lineup loaded with major-leaguers Tuesday, leading the United States to a 2-0 victory over Mexico in its World Baseball Classic debut. Home runs by Derrek Lee and Chipper Jones were all that was necessary on offense.

“I never would have said this yesterday,” Lee said after the World Baseball Classic opener for both teams, “but today, being on the field, I think this means more. It’s like Jake Peavy said, ‘You’re not playing for your city, you’re playing for your country.’ When you have your country behind you, there’s a lot of responsibility. There’s no monetary motivation for this. Guys came to this team to play for their country. It’s as simple as that.”

Canada 11, South Africa 8

CANADA          - 000 030 404   --  11
SOUTH AFRICA    - 000 040 130   --   8

Canada narrowly avoided a startling loss in its World Baseball Classic debut, rallying for four runs in the top of the ninth inning to beat South Africa 11-8 Tuesday night.

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel [worried] going into the ninth inning,” Canada third baseman Corey Koskie said. “But one of the great things about baseball is I knew we had a good chance.” “Everyone was putting out to the end. We were going after it.”

Pool C:
Puerto Rico 2, Panama 1

PANAMA          - 000 100 000   --   1
PUERTO RICO     - 000 020 00x   --   2

Puerto Rico’s first game in the World Baseball Classic was a tougher test than many expected. Bernie Williams hit a tiebreaking single, Alex Rios homered and Team Puerto Rico made its WBC debut with a 2-1 victory over Panama.

I felt like I was playing the World Series in March,” Williams said. “It was a great feeling. There is something very special about playing in my country, in my hometown. People chanting my name was a very special feeling for me. I will treasure that.”

Pool D:
Dominican Republic 11, Venezuela 5

DOMINICAN REP   - 020 040 005   --  11
VENEZUELA       - 000 121 100   --   5

2005 AL Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon vs. Johan Santana, the 2004 AL Cy Young winner, but hitters took the show. David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre each homered twice, leading a powerful Dominican team to an 11-5 victory over Venezuela in their World Baseball Classic opener.

The fans were seemingly split 50-50 between their allegiances to their native countries. Equally enthusiastic, Dominican and Venezuelan fans proudly waved their respective flags and cheered loudly throughout the contest, whether it was for home runs, groundouts or fly balls.

Italy 10, Australia 0

AUSTRALIA       - 000 000 0  --   0
ITALY           - 031 122 1  --  10

Mike Piazza doubled and scored a run and Jason Grilli was almost perfect in 4 2/3 innings of work, leading Italy to a 10-0 victory over Australia in the first round of the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday night.

“This is what we talked about when we were in a group,” Italy manager Matt Galante said. “We want to show the world we can play. And how well we do, time will tell. But we feel we can compete, and if you can compete, you’ve got a chance. That’s what I keep saying.”

Tejada prepared

Miguel Tejada - 2005 Batting Action
To prepare for World Baseball Classic, Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada, who had previously said he would sit out this winter season, already started to bat for one team of his native Dominican Republic.

“I don’t want to hang around doing nothing at home,” Tejada said, before his debut as a designated hitter with the Aguilas Cibaenas. “I’m going to start playing today to get myself in shape.”

Tejada, 29, signed a $72 million, six-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles before the 2004 season. He hit .304 with 26 home runs and 98 RBIs this season.

Tejada hit 3-1 and drove in two runs Thursday, but Cibaenas lost 7-5 to the Leones del Escogido.

The Dominican World Baseball Classic team will be loaded with talented sluggers, including Vladimir Guerrero, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano.

“I have to (play) not only for me but for my family,” said Tejada, who was born in Bani, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Santo Domingo.

In the mean time, Pittsburgh Pirates Starting Pitcher Oliver Perez, who also plan to pitch for his native country Mexico in World Baseball Classic, is also active in Winter League.

He said he does not expect to attend the Pirates’ voluntary minicamp during Jan. 10-15 in Bradenton, Florida, because it collides with Mexican playoffs.


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