Monday, March 23, 2009

WBC Roundup: Semi-finals

I meant to split the semifinal round-ups into two separate posts, but that didn’t quite happen, so you’ll have to settle for one post. At any rate, both Team Venezuela and Team USA learned a valuable lesson over the past two nights: Sooner or later, the bad pitching is going to catch up to you. However, in Venezuela’s defense, Carlos Silva had been pitching well in this tournament. I’m not gonna get into the argument about whether Felix Hernandez should’ve either started this game or come into it once Silva started to struggle, because I can see both sides of the argument. The reasons for using him are obvious (It’s a single elimination, etc.). On the other hand, using him would make him unavailable for the final. However, Venezuela’s problem was compounded by a bunch of errors and the inability of their bullpen to stop the bleeding. One night later, Team USA had pretty much the same problems. Roy Oswalt fell apart, and while the bullpen was a little more effective than Venezuela’s, eventually they couldn’t get the job done either. I did want at least one Tiger to root for in the final, so it kind of sucked, although I was not happy when Evan Longoria pinch-hit for Granderson. So that means that Japan and Korea will battle it out tonight for all the marbles. It seems rather anticlimactic when you consider the fact that these two teams came out of the same pool and have already faced each other FOUR TIMES in this tournament. In that light, Pools B, C, and D seem kind of a waste now.

However, with Venezuela and USA being done, the good news is that our offense is now back in Florida (though probably not playing today), and given the result of yesterday’s game, apparently it’s not a moment too soon. I know Ricky Nolasco is a good pitcher, but yeesh (though I guess a spring training no-hitter is a bit more feasible when you consider the fact that the starter went seven innings and it’s very realistic that two relievers could throw two hitless innings; that happens all the time). And hey, I suppose it’s better that it happen now and not during the regular season. From the pitching standpoint, Verlander threw too many pitches early, but settled down and got into a pretty nice groove. He also provided the television viewing audience with a delightful interview, during which he nearly let out a couple of swear words but caught himself just in time. It was clear that Mario & Rod ran out of questions, cuz they started asking him about his golf game. Ryan Perry was bound to give up a run at some point, so the important thing for him is bouncing back next time out. Bobby Seay did give up the home run and several hits, but again, he’s probably not going to enter the game at a critical point to face three right-handed batters in a row, and the one lefty he faced rolled into a double play. Meanwhile, in Arizona, the Angels and Royals combined to hit 15 home runs. Holy crap. And those are two teams that aren’t really known for hitting home runs (more so when you consider the fact that guys like Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero, and Bobby Abreu were NOT in the Angels lineup). By the way, the Angels’ color analyst on their radio broadcasts sounds almost exactly like Crush from Finding Nemo, dude.

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