Tagged: Venezuela

Mighty Venezuela Falls Flat, Korea Jumps Up to the Finals

Thumbnail image for WBCLogo.pngDid Venezuela lose their luggage on the trip from Florida to California Their uniforms made it. Their equipment made it, but one bag was missing on Saturday night‘s game against Korea:  The one that carries their dominant pitching, productive bats and defensive prowess. 

 

If so, maybe Team USA could beef up their team by buying the Venezuelan’s lost luggage for cheap here.

 

 

She-fan loves a good blowout. On occasion, it is nice when the Cardinals jump out to a big insurmountable lead.  But, when I do not really have a favorite in a game, a blowout is one big yawn. Especially, when the game is all but over in the top of the first.  Take out the first inning, Korea still wins, but it would have been a better game.

Instead of the battle I wanted, I got errors. I hate errors in the plural. A singular error falls under the category of “Oh well, stuff happens”. Korea had one of those.  Errors, in the plural, are just painful to watch. It was like watching a Venezuelan 50 car pile up–once the crashing started, it just would not stop. Boom! Smash! Crunch!

 

Oddly enough, Venezuela did get an out at the plate on a wild pitch to end an inning when the bases had been loaded. You know you are having a bad night, when your big defensive break comes on a wild pitch.  Five errors for Venezuela in a 10-2 loss.

Sadly, when a game has no ‘game’, then the broadcasters have to find other things to talk about.  Sometimes this is cool.  Like when they get to telling funny old baseball stories from their playing or early broadcasting days.  But tonight, they debated amongst themselves for two innings on how and when the WBC should be played.  It is a valid talking point.  For about one inning.  After that, it sounded like bickering.

 

On a side note, I about died laughing when one broadcaster said “US Americans”.  If you read Red State Blue State and click on the “US Americans” link you will too.  Every time I watch it, I am glad my blonde days are behind me.

 

After that the most interesting thing they found to discuss was the quilted sliding protection built into one butt cheek and thigh of the Korean’s pants.  The quilting is not surprising considering all the protection the Koreans wear while batting.  Perhaps, they have on body armor as well.

 

All whining and poking fun aside, the Koreans have played a great tournament.  The have all the tools:  pitching, speed, defense and a little power.  They have earned their spot in the finals.  Nobody should doubt their right to be there.  They are a formidable opponent.

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Don’t Forget to Pack Your Tambourine


 
Thumbnail image for WBCLogo.pngRound Two World Baseball Classic action continues…

 

Korea vs. Mexico

In Sunday’s very late (10:00 pm Central) game, Korea defeated Mexico using a surprising weapon:  the long ball.  The three solo shots were surprising both because the game took place in the pitcher-friendly spacious confines of Petco Park in San Diego and because Korea is not know for their power. 

 

Korea also used small ball, with two sacrifices and three stolen bases.  Mexico seemed unable to get their offense going against the fine Korea pitching.  Korea won 8-2.

 

In this World Baseball Classic, there are men playing for jobs.  Reportedly, Ivan Rodriguez is headed to Houston.  All are playing for pride and country.  The Koreans are playing for something more.   

 

In Korea, the government requires mandatory military service from all men that must be completed by the age of 30.  However, military exemption has sometimes been granted to Olympians.  The Korean government has not promised military exemption to the members of the 2009 Korean roster, but if Korea brings home the championship, such an exemption is likely.

 

Shin-Soo Choo, a 27-year-old prospect in the Cleveland Indians organization, has not yet completed his military service.  Without the exemption, he will be forced to go back to Korea and spend a couple years in the military, and then try to resume his baseball career.  The Cleveland Indians, with a significant investment in Choo, were probably the only major league club that said to a player, “Yes, please, go play in the WBC” in the hopes an exemption would be granted.

 

Venezuela vs. Puerto Rico

Monday night, these two Caribbean rivals met in Miami.  The crowd was large, loud and rowdy.  Forget “thundersticks”, these fans bring everything from drums and tambourines to pots and pans.  One even had a stainless steel dog bowl that she was beating on with a spoon.  While the American public seems rather blasé about the WBC, there is no doubt that other countries are taking this very seriously.

 

I so wishing I was at this game.  I have a game bag I pack with all my essentials:  camera, score sheet on a clipboard, pencils, sharpies, umbrella, tickets, cell phone, hot dog money, XM radio, and a jacket.  I love the idea of slipping in my tambourine or even my spare dog bowl into my game bag.

 

Perhaps, there is something contagious about the crowd because I was riveted to the TV, feeling the weight of importance on every single pitch.  And, pitching was the story of this game.

 

Puerto Rico’s Ian Snell was great, but a walk, a stolen base and a single got Venezuela on the board in the third inning.  Amazingly, that would be all Venezuela would need, as their pitching staff, led by Felix Hernandez, shut down the Puerto Rican offensive machine.

 

Venezuela‘s Ramon Hernandez added a solo home run in the seventh inning that was debated for about ten minutes before being ruled a home run.  That has to be the longest home run trot in history!  At first, it ruled a triple.  The umpires debated on the field, then disappeared into the tunnel to view the instant replay.  The replays on TV clearly showed it to be a home run.  Yet, we waited and waited.   Finally, the umpires appeared and declared it a home run.  As it turns out, the replay equipment was not working, so after a debate among themselves, they called it a home run.

 

Venezuela‘s win ensures them a spot in the finals, while Puerto Rico and USA will battle for the other spot.  In the rematch between the USA and Puerto Rico, we will find out what Team USA is made of.  Can they rebound from their drumming by Puerto Rico in the first round?

 

Cuba vs. Mexico

Another 10:00 pm game at Petco Park.  These are killing me.  Well, actually, this one killed Mexico, as it was an elimination game.  

 

Cuba prevailed 7-4 in this match-up.  Mexico‘s success or lack can largely be judged by how first baseman Adrian Gonzalez hits.  In his home park, Gonzalez only got on with a walk.  Not good for Mexico.  Mexico’s Cantu and Presichi both contributed solo homers, but in the end Cuba put up seven runs on eleven hits.

 

With the embargo against Cuba, you may wonder how do the Cubans get to play on American soil?  They agree to donate any winnings to charity.  These are lowest paid players in this classic, and they are only allowed to play for national pride, not prize money.  Am I the only one that thinks the foreign policy against Cuba is outdated? Can we please be the “bigger” country and kiss and make up with our neighbor? 

 

Mexico goes home.  Mexican left-handed reliever, Dennys Reyes, will head to Cardinals camp in Florida, where I hope Dave Duncan can whip him into game form.  In an elimination game on the 18th, Cuba will go on to face the loser of the St. Patrick’s Day game between Japan and Korea

 

Baseball in a Football Stadium – The WBC Continues


Thumbnail image for WBCLogo.pngThe World Baseball Classic continued today in
Miami with Round 2 action.  Can you believe they are playing the WBC in a football stadium?  Dolphins Stadium is no place for a baseball classic. What is wrong with Minute Maid Park?  I would so be there, if it were in Houston.

 

 

 

 

 

Venezuela vs. Kingdom of the Netherlands

 

In this game, both teams did what they do best. The Netherlands pitched well and played good defense.  Offensively, the put the ball in play, took advantage of errors and managed to eke out a run.  Worth noting:  they are starting to hit the ball better.  Their grounders found gaps and holes today.  They had six hits, but only one run.

 

Venezuela also pitched well, but they also had two errors.  They did not hit often, but they hit big.  The difference in this game was three BIG hits:  Two home runs and a triple.  When the Netherlands put runners on in the eighth to rally, Venezuela brought in K-Rod to shut the door.  He did, and Venezuela won 3-1. 

 

However, how amazing is it that the Netherlands has kept all of their games close?  Everybody thought it was a fluke when they beat the Dominicans for the first time, but nobody is thinking that now.  This is a very good “team”, with “team” being the key word.  They play well together.  I do not see them making it to the next round, because they need a little more offense, but they are a force to be reckoned with.

 

 

USA vs. Puerto Rico

 

I expected this game to be high and tight.  Instead, it was low and away.  From the beginning until the abrupt end, Puerto Rico dominated this game.  They did everything right.  They had five innings of dominant starting pitching from Javier Vasquez, giving up the lone USA run.  In his last inning, he threw a hook to Mark DeRosa for a called strike three that looked the ball had been suddenly sucked out of orbit and sent crashing to the earth.  If it had been in a movie, it would have looked phony.  DeRosa appeared upset that he did not swing, but it did not matter.  That pitch was virtually un-hittable.

 

Puerto Rico hit USA‘s starting pitcher, Jake Peavy, and they hit him hard.  By the end of the second inning, Puerto Rico was up 6-0 on six hits (including a double and home run), two walks and a sac fly.  Puerto Rico was aggressive on the bases, taking an extra one any time they could.

 

Defensively, Puerto Rico was solid.  After watching, second baseman, Felipe Lopez take more than his fair share of grounders (there were five 4-3 putouts), I may have under estimated Lopez last year when he was with the Cardinals.  He looked good on the field, and he got a dinger and a double at the plate.

 

Carlos Beltran.  Wow.  I was reminded of why I was so upset when the Royals traded him.  He had two singles, a walk, a home run, a stolen base and two RBI’s.  Ivan “give-this-guy-a-job” Rodriguez had another good game going three for four with two doubles.  Actually, every Puerto Rican hitter had at least a run or an RBI.

 

I am looking at my scoresheet, trying to think of something positive to say about Team USA‘s performance.  I can only come up with Brian McCann who got a single and a RBI double off of Vasquez, the pitcher he usually catches.  Seems he can find Vasquez’s pitches with both his glove and his bat.

 

Puerto Rico scored four in the seventh off Matt Thornton to invoke the mercy rule, winning 11-1.  I did not see that one coming.  I knew Puerto Rico had lots of great players and really seemed to gel as a team.  I thought they could possibly beat Team USA, but not dominate them.

 

It will be interesting to see if Team USA can bounce back from this devastating loss.  They will get their shot at the Netherlands tomorrow.  Puerto Rico is emerging as the team to beat, if only because no one has done it yet.  On Monday, Puerto Rico will meet a Caribbean rival, Venezuela.  In San Diego, Round 2 action will also kick off tomorrow with Japan vs. Cuba and Mexico vs. Korea.

The Caribbean Cruises


Thumbnail image for WBCLogo.pngTwo
Caribbean teams cruised past their opponents to ensure themselves top seating in the next round of the WBC.  Next port of call:  Miami.

 

One Caribbean team guaranteed themselves a spot in the next round, but they have one more stop before sailing on to San Diego.

 

 

Kingdom of the Netherlands vs. Puerto Rico

This final game of the Pool D should have been between the Dominicans and Puerto Rico, but it was not.  Although the story of David (the Netherlands) defeating Goliath (the Dominicans) is compelling, I was a little disappointed the Dominicans never faced Puerto Rico in this tournament.  Or, maybe I was just afraid the hot Netherlands would come up with another upset.

 

I need not to have worried.  The Netherlands seemed to fizzle as Puerto Rico handed them a 5-0 shutout.  The Puerto Rican win was very much a team effort.  Starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez pitched 4 fine innings, giving up two hits, one walk and striking out four.  Not bad from a pitcher that might only be considered the Giants fourth or fifth starter, but when your rotation has three Cy Young winners, it’s hard to break into the top three.

 

The fine bullpen finished the job.  Manager Jose Oquendo used the 4-0 and 5-0 lead to give several relief pitchers some work.

 

One RBI a piece goes to Beltran, Rios, Rodriguez, Soto and Cora.  Only one extra base hit:  a triple by Rios.  The Netherlands did have a different catcher behind the plate tonight, Sidney de Jong.  The Puerto Ricans took advantage of two pitches that got away from de Jong and a missed popped fly.  The regular Netherlands catcher, Kenley Jansen, has been stellar behind the plate.

 

Venezuela vs. USA

In earlier tournament action, Team USA handed Venezuela a decisive loss.  In the final game of Pool C, Venezuela got their revenge fueled by a couple of Blancos.

 

Centerfielder, Gregor Blanco had a three for five day at the plate, including a double, a triple and one RBI.  Catcher, Henry Blanco, went three for four with a solo home run that initially put Venezuela on the board.  However, Henry Blanco’s biggest play of the day came in the 9th inning. 

 

Down two runs, Team USA‘s Jimmy Rollins gets on with a walk.  Dustin Pedroia files out (could it have been that pitch the Playstation claims he can’t hit?).  Derek Jeter reaches on an error.  So, the tying run is on with one out.  With Kevin Youkillis batting, Jeter and Rollins attempt a double steal.  Blanco guns down Jeter at second.  The wind in Team USA‘s sails just died.  The next pitch caught Youkillis swinging at strike three, and it was all over with.  Venezuela wins 5-3.

 

Mexico vs. Australia

Earlier in the tournament Australia handed Mexico a huge loss.  Tonight, Mexico returned the favor, very efficiently, in only six innings, winning 16-1.

 

From Mexico, the Hairston brothers, the Gonzalez brothers and two guys named Ojeda that are not brothers put together a big night.  Oh yeah, Karim Garcia went 4 for 4 with 4 RBI’s, too.  Two Jorge’s (Cantu and Vazquez) also contributed to the RBI totals.

 

The Australians seemed to throw every pitcher they had at Mexico, but could not contain their bats.  Mexico only needed two pitchers:  Jorge Campillo and Rodrigo Lopez

 

Australia is going back down under, while Mexico will be moving on.  They will face a tough Cuban team tonight to determine who will face Japan or Korea in the next round.

 

Round 2, Pool 2: Miami

 

In Pool 2, the Venezuelans will face the Netherlands.  No one is taking the Netherlands for granted any more, despite the face that Puerto Rico beat them twice, neither game was a rout.  I am looking forward to seeing the match-up of both team’s fine pitching.

 

Also, in Pool 2, Puerto Rico and Team USA will meet.  I was rather hoping they would not meet for a while, so I would not have to pick between my country and the team with my favorite Cardinal.  With the way, Oquendo has the catchers paired with starting pitchers, it is likely that Yadier Molina will not see action against Team USA.  That could help.

 

I know I am supposed to cheer for Team USA, but there is not a player on Team USA that I feel any type of attachment to.  No one from my team or my backup team is playing for Team USA.  From my backup backup team, there is Jeter, but the Yankees are my backup backup team because I like to watch Jose Molina behind the plate.  Who, of course, is Puerto Rican.  I swear, all roads lead to San Juan.

 

The best I can do is hope for a really close, well played game, where I will neither be completely satisfied by the win nor completely devastated by the loss.  Fortunately, this is not an elimination game.  Do not judge me too harshly, Puerto Ricans are Americans, too.

WBC – Two More Go Home


Thumbnail image for WBCLogo.pngThe World Baseball Classic does not disappoint, unless you were one of the teams eliminated tonight.

 

Italy vs. Venezuela

The Italians and Venezuelans played once again.  This time facing elimination.  In this tournament, the Italians were much better than anyone really expected.  Fresh off their elimination of Canada, could they send favored Venezuelan team home? 

 

For the Italians, a Redbird took the mound.  Adam Ottavino played for the Double-A Springfield Cardinals last season and earned an invite to the big league camp this spring.  Ottavino did the Cardinals proud, pitching three scoreless innings, giving up one hit and one walk, while striking out three.  It’s a shame he could not stay in the game.  But, a pitching change was made, and the ballgame was all but over by the end of the fourth inning.

 

In the fourth and fifth inning, the Venezuelans went on an offense attack, scoring four in the fourth and five in the fifth.  Take out those two innings, and it is a 1-1 ballgame.  Leave them in, and it’s a 10-1 rout. 

 

Venezuela and the USA will meet once again in the Pool C finals tonight. 

 

On a side note:  Nice to see former Cardinal, Cesar Izturis play.  Nothing against our new shortstop, but I will miss seeing Izturis pick it this year.

 

Dominican Republic vs. Kingdom of the Netherlands

When the Netherlands upset the Dominicans on Saturday, it was unbelievable.  The Dominican lineup is stacked.  Loaded.  An offensive run-making machine gun.  And, who were these Netherlands players?  Nobody much that you would have heard of.  A couple have some big league experience, but that’s all.

 

The upset seemed a fluke.  It seemed less of a fluke, when the Netherlands nearly upset the highly favored Puerto Rican team.  By the time that the Netherlands took the field for the third time at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan Puerto Rico, people were starting to take them seriously.

 

The rematch was tense.  The pitching was fantastic.  Ten scoreless innings.  Rockies pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez for the DR was amazing, fanning ten batters, a WBC record.   Netherlands starting pitcher, Tom Stuifbergen, was not as flashy as Jimenez, but the result was the same:  Four scoreless innings.  Stuifbergan, a 20-year-old pitcher in the Twin organization, who pitched 12 innings in the Gulf Coast League in 2007, faced down some of the biggest major league all-star bats and came out on the winnings side.

 

Finally, in the top of the 11th the Dominicans took advantage of an error to plate one run.  Would it be enough?  No.  In the bottom of the 11th, the Netherlands took advantage of two Dominican errors to plate two runs and eliminate the Dominicans from the tournament.

 

It is no secret that in this bracket, I favor the Puerto Ricans.  Just a few days ago, if you had said that Puerto Rico would be playing the Netherlands in the final of this game.  I would have said, “Sweet”.  Last night, I was rather hoping the Dominicans would win.  I think I would rather take my chances with them.  This Netherlands team is scary good.  I can only hope that the 11 inning game wore them down, rather than warmed them up.

 

Cuba vs Australia

Australia gave the favored Cuba team a run for their money.  It appeared that the Aussies might pull off another upset when they scored three in the sixth to go ahead 4-2.  But, those were the last runs they would score.  Cuba managed to get one in seventh and two in the eighth to pull ahead, winning 5-4.

 

Just in the category of things you do not see very often:  a slick, unique play.  The Cuban second baseman backhanded a grounder up the middle.  The shortstop runs over and gets in position to receive the shuttle throw straight from the glove of the second baseman.  The shortstop then throws to first getting the out.  It was a 4-6-3 that was not a double-play. 

 

I had to wonder if the shuttle toss was really faster than the second baseman turning and throwing.  The announcers said that the Cubans practice this play all the time, so I would have to think so.  The shortstop is definitely in a position to make a better throw to first, but that little shuttle throw out of the glove seems dangerous.  Still, it was very cool to watch, more like a fast break drill in basketball.

 

Mexico will have their chance at revenge against the Aussies in the elimination round, while Cuba waits to play the winner.

 

Another side note:  I find it hard to pull for Cuba when the score on the screen truncates Cuba and makes it Cub.  Can I buy an “a”, please?

 

St. Louis Cardinals Notes

Kyle Lohse had another fine outing today against the Tigers, giving up 1 run in 4.1 innings of work.  Chris Duncan made a case for his cause to be on the opening day roster with 3 RBI’s.  Jason Motte took the ball in the 9th, showed command of two pitches other than his blazing fast ball and got the save. The best part:  No Cardinal errors today.  And, oh yeah, we won 5-2.

 

 

More World Baseball Classic and Stuff


WBCLogo.pngNot so many surprises today in the World Baseball Classic.  At least, at first.

 

Korea vs. China

Korea eliminated China handily 14-0 in 7 1/2 innings.  I did not make it up at 5:00 am today to watch it.  Score one for my sanity.

 

Cuba vs. Republic of South Africa

Cuba, hitting a WBC record six home runs, topped the Republic of South Africa .  The Cuban looked like the Cubans should.   In a moral victory, the South Africans avoided a shut out when Jonathan Phillips hit a 2-0ut RBI single in the ninth inning to put them on the board.  Final score 8-1.

 

Dominican Republic vs. Panama

The Dominicans looked like the Dominicans should.  Bouncing back from their surprise loss to the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic shut out Panama 9-0, thereby handing them their second loss and eliminating them from the Classic.  The Dominican Republic had a beautiful strike ’em out, throw ’em out play in the first.  Pitcher Johnny Cueto, and catcher Miguel Olivo erased a runner and a batter in a matter of seconds.  Olivo also had a big day at the plate, stroking two home-runs.

 

The other Dominican with a big night was not one of the names the most people know…yet.  I know it because last year Nelson Cruz played for the Triple-A Oklahoma City Redhawks, before a Rangers call up late in the season.  Last July, in a game against the Memphis Redbirds, I saw Nelson Cruz hit 3 home runs.  One was a monster, leaving the park altogether and bouncing off the parking garage beyond left field.  This year he is hitting home runs on a much larger stage. 

 

Then the surprises begin:

 

USA vs. Venezuela

For the first five innings, this game went as I expected.  I expected Venezuela to be a formidable opponent for Team USA.  I expected their pitching to keep USA‘s All-Star bats somewhat under control.  They did, until the sixth, when Team USA broke the game open, putting up eight runs in an inning that went on forever.  The Venezuelans could not recover.  Final score 15-6.

 

 

Mexico vs Australia

I honestly did not make it to the end of this game (very late), but I wish I had.  I did see the favored Mexicans jump out to an early lead, but from the fifth inning on, the game belonged to the Aussies.  They shut down the Mexican offense and starting putting up three and four runs an inning.  The game was called at the end of the eighth at a score of 17-7.

 

And, down in Florida?

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Florida Marlins

When I said yesterday that 99% of the news coming out of the Cardinals camp had been positive, I must have jinxed them.  I will not elaborate because I do not really want to talk about it.  I will just leave you with today’s ugly box score:

            R H E

FLA      9 9 0

STL      8 8 6   

 

And… 

 

Because my remote has a hard time navigating to any channel besides the MLB Network, I have seen the following commerical dozens and dozens of time.   Yet, I still smile every time I see Tim Lincecum training his video game replica.  I wonder how much Tim Lincecum’s clone could make on the free agent market?  I dare say that it would be significantly more than the 650K that real Timmy is getting this year.

 

 

 

My Own March Madness

Wow!  With a full day of Spring Training and World Baseball Classic action, it was like March Madness, my way. Just think I get to do it all again tomorrow.  Life is sweet!  Or, la vita dolce!   Or, la vida es dulce!

 

There were so many surprises:

 

Surprise #1:  All on my own, with no mechanical intervention, I inexplicably woke up at 5:00 am.  Bizarre.  When I checked the time, I realized that the game between Japan and Korea was underway.  So, I flipped on the TV and watched.  Feel free to question my sanity.  I know I do.

 

Surprise #2:  Japan dominated Korea.  Game called in the seventh on account of the “please, have some mercy and don’t make me blow my whole bullpen in the first round” rule.  I thought this would be a tight game, but it got away from Korea in the first, and they continued to fall behind.

 

Surprise #3:  The Netherlands beat the Dominican Republic.  Or, as the jerseys say, “The Nederlands beat Dominicana”.  Did anyone predict this?  I do not think so.  The Netherlands jumped out to an early lead taking advantage of Domincan errors, and they managed to hold on.  The Netherlands were considered a non-issue in this tournament, but they made themselves an issue today.

 

Surprise #4:  The USA vs. Canada game did not go into extra innings.  This was great game.  I really thought Canada was going to come back and tie it in the ninth, but the Americans held on.

 

Surprise #5:  Pudge Rodriquez stole a base in the matchup between Panama and Puerto Rico.   It’s just not something you see catchers do very often. The pick-off throw came over to first, he took off for second and made it.  This is a man looking for a job, and today he made a strong case that he deserves one. (See more later)

 

Surprise #6:  Bobby Abreu is doubled off at third.  He made it there in plenty of time.  Did the turn-and-look toward home.  Thought the play was over and walked back to the base.  In a heads up play by the Italians, the shortstop, Nick Punto, cuts off the throw from right fielder, Mario Chiarini.  Then, he throws to the pitcher, Mark DiFelice who is  covering 3rd and  tags Abreu out.  Abreu was very angry with himself, but made up for with a two RBI single in the next inning.

 

What I loved:

 

From the Toyoko games:  SPEED.  So, much speed.  The runners are always running.  On a ground ball, it looks like someone hit the fast forward button for the infielders.  I thought the slowed down instant replay even looked fast. 

 

Netherlands vs. Dominican Republic:  In the ninth, the Netherlands are clinging to a one run lead and need two outs.  Dangerous Dominican hitters are capable of stealing the win with just a couple swings of the bat.  Then, if I were keeping a scorecard, the sweetest letters in baseball would have appeared.  Fine, they are only sweet if you love great catching as I do.  The letters are “CS”.  In this case “CS” would be followed by “2-5”.  Or, as MLB At-Bat said:

“With Hanley Ramirez batting, Willy Traveras  caught stealing 3rd base, catcher Kenley Jansen to third baseman Yurendell de Caster”

 

I do not know this Kenley Jansen.  The WBC website says he is part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.  I do know this:  It was a sweet throw, working around a right-handed batter, and I suspect we might all know him someday.

 

USA vs. Canada:  This was just a great, hard fought game.  So many great plays.  There was a great “CS” play in this game, where Russell Martin caught Jimmy Rollins trying to take second.  I cheered, and then I remembered that Martin was playing for Canada, and I was supposed to be cheering for USA.  Oops.  So, to make up for it, I will mention that USA’s catcher Brian McCann had a great day at the plate with a homer and sac fly, adding up to a three RBI day.

 

Puerto Rico vs. Panama:  Even if I was not someone who always notices the catcher, Puerto Rico‘s catcher would have been impossible to miss.  Ivan “Pudge” Rodriquez had an amazing day at the plate.  Two home runs, one double, one single, one walk, one stolen base and a grand total of four RBI’s.  In addition, he caught a shutout.   His agent’s phone should be hot tonight.

 

Venezuela vs. Italy:  Italia seemed to have it in for Bobby Abreu.  They hit him with a pitch, doubled him off third (see above) and robbed him of an extra base hit.  The rob was spectacular.  Abreu smacked a ball to the gap in right-center.  At least it was a gap.  There was no Italian outfielder on my TV screen.  Suddenly, right-fielder, Mario Chiarini enters the screen, flying through the air, making the grab and breaking his belt in two when he comes in for a landing on the turf. 

 

Also, to continue the theme of great catching moments, Venezuelan catcher, Ramon Hernandez sent a textbook, on the money, perfect throw down to second base to “CS” Frank Cataianotto.  It was a beautiful throw…low, just barely to the 1st base side of 2nd, where the momentum of the throw hitting the second baseman’s glove seems to push the glove right into the runner, catching him just before he touches the bag.  So sweet.

 

 

St. Louis Cardinals

And, oh yeah, the Cardinals won their spring training game against the Houston Astros today.  After being so hard on Joel Pineiro last week, I should make a point to say that he had a fabulous outing today.  He pitched four scoreless innings, giving up only one hit.  In the best way possible, he did not look like a fifth starter at all.

 

Actually, 99% of the news coming out of the Cardinals camp has been very positive.  25-man roster spots will be hard to come by in April, and a number of young players are making a strong case for why they should get a spot. 

 

I listened to Mike Shannon and John Rooney’s broadcast for the first time this spring.  So, nice to hear those familiar voices.

 

Time to get some rest.  Tomorrow is another big day!