March Madness: World Baseball Classic Edition
White Sox players are right in the thick of things, as the Classic moves into elimination play
It’s been another exciting week of World Baseball Classic action!
Pool Play officially wrapped up, and elimination play began Wednesday morning, with the first matchup being Cuba vs. Australia. Pool C and D concluded Wednesday evening, with Mexico and the United States advancing from Pool C, and Venezuela and Puerto Rico coming out of Pool D.
Pools C and D
There are many players who have shown out during the WBC, but for Pool C, Randy Arozarena (two doubles, 7-for-14 overall) provided an MVP performance on behalf of Team Mexico.
Your Pool C MVP: Randy Arozarena (7-for-14, 6 R, 5 2B, 1 HR, 9 RBI) pic.twitter.com/7WAmkmW2hV— World Baseball Classic (@WBCBaseball) March 17, 2023
Salvador Pérez also batted .500 during pool play, including a monster home run against Puerto Rico to seal the MVP of Pool D.
Your Pool D MVP: Salvador Perez (5-for-10, 5 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI) pic.twitter.com/GDiQL3kRfI— World Baseball Classic (@WBCBaseball) March 16, 2023
The top eight teams advanced to the Quarterfinals, and after the United States finishes up tonight, the Final Four will be set. Double March Madness? Not complaining over here!
Checking in on the South Siders
The Cuban team continued its WBC dominance, securing a round two win over Australia, 4-3, with Luis Robert Jr. and Yoán Moncada continuing to produce on the offensive end. Moncada’s bat has stayed very hot, as he smashed a double to deep left off of the wall, just missing a home run, and Robert was able to drive in a run in the third to tie the Australians at 1. Moncada had a great game, going 2-for-2, walking twice — maybe we will see a Moncada vs. Yasmani Grandal walk battle again in 2023?
Yoan Moncada is 8 for his last 11 with 3 doubles, 1 HR and 5 RBI in the #WBC. pic.twitter.com/8lOPs03kee— SELL THE WHITE SOX (@HashTagWhiteSox) March 15, 2023
Look at our boys!
White Sox in the house! Yoán Moncada and Luis Robert #WorldBaseballClassic pic.twitter.com/gAFV9Zitx7— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) March 18, 2023
Eloy Jiménez and the Dominican Republic fell in their final pool play game against Puerto Rico, and are officially eliminated from the tournament. In his final game, Eloy went 1-for-4 and struck out once in the DR’s loss, though he had a successful WBC overall (.455 with two RBIs and only two Ks in 11 at-bats). Outside of playing right field, White Sox fans should be excited to be getting a healthy Eloy as we approach Opening Day. Knocking on wood.
Eloy Jimenez talks about his experience playing in the WBC. pic.twitter.com/XFSN6L52k2— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) March 17, 2023
In Puerto Rico’s final game against Cuba, Nicholas Padilla also made another relief appearance, securing a hold in his one inning, only giving up two hits — one of them being the Jiménez double in the sixth inning. The two hits against the Dominican Republic, however, were the only two Padilla has given up throughout the World Baseball Classic.
For the Venezuelen team, José Ruiz has been a strong arm out of the bullpen. In his four innings, he has given up just one hit, walked two, and struck out five. If we get this version of Ruiz for the 2023 White Sox, I most certainly will not be complaining. He has great energy on the mound, and proves that Venezuela can count on him in tight situations.
José Ruiz, Wicked 86mph Breaking Ball...and is fired up. pic.twitter.com/ECWruM2iM5— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 18, 2023
In the United States’ win over Columbia to close out pool play, Tim Anderson’s hot streak went a little cold, as he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. While he had a rough time at the plate, he’s been playing great defense at second base — especially for someone that hasn’t played that position before! He talked about it a little bit after his great game earlier in the week, mentioning that he’s gotten more comfortable with the position.
Kendall Graveman also came in to relieve for the U.S. in his second WBC appearance, giving up one hit striking out one, picking someone off at first, and nabbing the win. Not a bad day at all!
Lance Lynn took the mound for the United States in their quarterfinal game against Venezuela, and if he channels any part of his first WBC outing, Team USA should be in good shape. The man has more swag than he even knows what to do with right now.
Lance Lynn will start for Team USA against Venezuela on Saturday pic.twitter.com/55Y4rnEI9V— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) March 17, 2023
Not a fan of this stat, but I think Lance will come out fired up tonight.
Tonight's Venezuela starting lineup vs. Lance Lynn in MLB games: a combined OPS of .998— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) March 18, 2023
Japan continues its dominance in the tournament, advancing to the semifinals after Shohei Ohtani had another lights-out performance, ringing up five and even topping 102 mph. Just incredible, all around.
Shohei pumping 102.— MLB (@MLB) March 16, 2023
He's simply one of a kind. #WorldBaseballClassic pic.twitter.com/tnMRGgCi1q
Shohei Ohtani struck out five to lead his team to the #WorldBaseballClassic semifinals pic.twitter.com/rNx6CPFKlh— World Baseball Classic (@WBCBaseball) March 16, 2023
Mike Trout had a phenomenal game in USA’s final pool play game, going 3-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs, propelling them to a 3-2 victory over Columbia.
Mexico moves to the semifinals for the first time in WBC history, thanks to another lights-out performance from Arozarena — including this web gem that likely prevented Puerto Rico’s tying run.
Randy Arozarena is doing it ALL for Team Mexico!— World Baseball Classic (@WBCBaseball) March 18, 2023
This time with his glove! #WorldBaseballClassic pic.twitter.com/HvG72j36i8
The entire Puerto Rico vs. Mexico game was a treat, and was absolutely electric — including this Javy Báez bat flip.
Javy is bringing the energy early in Miami! #WorldBaseballClassic pic.twitter.com/uBuTeDEd8f— MLB (@MLB) March 17, 2023
Ken Griffey Jr. even took some batting practice with Team USA — definitely still got it!
The Kid’s still got it... as if there was any doubt.— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) March 17, 2023
Ken Griffey Jr. went yard after the Team USA players convinced him to take a few swings. #WorldBaseballClassic pic.twitter.com/SWmtJQ2yFw
Looking ahead, Japan and Mexico will meet in the semifinals, which is sure to be an amazing matchup, but Mexico might have a tough time with the juggernaut that is the Japanese team. If we’re lucky, we might get a USA vs Cuba matchup, where White Sox teammates Lynn, Anderson, and Graveman would potentially meet up with Robert and Moncada. Loser will be buying dinner all season!
Buckle up for the rest of the action!