KW in the previous comments pointed out that I picked against Puerto Rico in every round. Yes I did. I’m a sucker for pitching, and I just never thought PR’s pitching staff would take them all the way. And in the end … it came down to pitching to decide the WBC.
Here’s how the WBC ended up.
In the semis: I predicted that the Netherlands and USA would advance, with the Netherlands winning the whole thing. So what happened?
In the first semi: Puerto Rico and the Netherlands played a pretty entertaining game (side note: why the heck doesn’t Wladimir Balentien get a MLB contract?? He’s destroyed Japanese pitching over the last several years and wasn’t exactly awful during his short stint in the MLB; perhaps he wants to stay over there. But he’s a beast) that went to extra innings before Puerto Rico walked off with the 4-3 win (using the 11th inning placed runners rules, which certainly make for a quick end to games but seem … well a bit abrupt).
In the other semi, the Nats own Tanner Roark (finally) got the start against previously undefeated (and, really, unchallenged) Japan. (rant: I hate to be the cynic, but couldn’t have Roark just hung around Palm Beach the last 3 weeks and just show up in LA for this start?? NOW do you see why I hate it when our pitchers get “invited” to pitch in the WBC?). Luckily, he pitched well, throwing 4+ scoreless innings before making way and thus not getting the W. The US squeaked out enough runs to win.
In the final, Marcus Stroman (former Nats draftee, I remind you) threw 6+ no-hit innings and the USA bats finally wore down PR’s pitching and won going away 8-0.
Several good post-WBC wrap up columns; one I like from Jim Bowden (yeah yeah boo hiss) where he talks winners and losers, and another good one from Tom Verducci, where he talks about some high-lights and has some intelligent suggestions.
Great event, certainly more exciting and better baseball than we’ve seen in year’s past, and I agree with both Bowden and Verducci that this may have finally been the WBC to “turn the tide” on American participation. Both visible critics Noah Snydergaard and Mike Trout have done 180-degree reversals on the event which is great to see.
Next up! Nats roster finalization.