Monday, March 20, 2017

2017 Wrold Baseball Classic: Final Four Madness

From the desk of:  PLANET BASEBALL


Netherlands * Puerto Rico * United States * Japan

Puerto Rico

The Netherlands entered the 2017 World Baseball Classic with expectations of reaching the Second Round.  Congratulations to them on a job well done.  

Didi Gregorius has Netherlands in the semi finals, and must now somehow lead them against impressive Puerto Rico.

Netherlands enters the semi-finals with a 4-2 tournament record, having registered victories over Korea, Taiwan, a rematch win over Israel, and a commanding victory over Cuba.  They we upset by Israel in the first round, and lost to (still undefeated) Japan opening Round Two.

To date, Netherlands has outscored their opponents by an 45-20 margin.  Much of that can be explained by their most recent victories: a 12-2 romp over Israel, followed by a 14-1 dismantling of Cuba.  Said another way, Netherlands enters Monday's showdown against Puerto Rico on a roll.

Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, Xander Bogaerts, Jurickson Profar, Jonathan Schoop, and Wladimir Balentien, are capable of providing Netherlands with sufficient slugging potential against Puerto Rico.

Team Borinquen enters the semi-final undefeated, registering victories over Mexico, Italy, Dominican Republic, United States, and a pair of victories over Venezuela.  They've outscored their opponents by a 52-15 margin.

They played a thriller against Team USA last Friday.  Puerto Rico led 6-3 through the eighth.  USA rallied for a pair of runs on Brandon Crawford's triple in the top of the ninth.  But with two and the game tying run on third, reliever Edwin Diaz struck out Josh Harrison swinging to end the game.

Puerto Rico roughed up USA starter Marcus Stroman right away, scoring four earned runs in the first inning.  Stroman allowed eight hits, walked one, and fanned a pair through 4.2 innings pitched.

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