Sat. Mar 25th, 2023

Just after Japan’s 9-three victory on Thursday, joining Cuba in the Globe Baseball Classic semifinals, the tournament now has only six teams left.

On Friday evening Mexico will play Puerto Rico in Miami for the proper to play Japan on Monday, and then on Saturday the United States will square off against Venezuela (also in Miami) with the winner facing Cuba on Sunday.

Lengthy story quick: This point is coming down to the wire now. It only gets a lot more enjoyable from right here.

So, to reset prior to the weekend’s action, here’s a appear at the key storyline for every of the six teams remaining.

Puerto Rico: Can they recover from the devastating Díaz injury?
Up till the moment Edwin Díaz collapsed underneath a number of of his celebrating countrymen, Puerto Rico had to feel that possibly this was their year. Just after two consecutive second-location finishes in the WBC, the group this year had thrown a excellent game, knocked out the vaunted Dominican Republic group and set up a fascinating matchup with Mexico for the proper to go to the semifinals. It was noteworthy how properly manager Yadier Molina, a man lengthy believed to be managerial material but undertaking this for the 1st time, had set up his bullpen and roster it was all going precisely to program. And then Díaz went down. That is definitely going to be a dilemma for the Mets, but it is a dilemma for Puerto Rico also, and not just for the reason that the group is now down its closer. How does a group rebound emotionally from such whiplash? They have roughly 40 hours to figure it out.

Mexico: Is Randy Arozarena on one more 1 of his heaters?
Randy Arozarena has established himself as an impressive MLB typical with the Rays — he did win the AL Rookie of the Year award a couple of years ago, right after all — but he’ll forever be recognized for his 2020 postseason, when he generally turned into Babe Ruth and carried the Rays into the Globe Series. It certain appears like he’s back at it once again in the WBC. He is tied with Japan’s Masataka Yoshida for most RBIs in the tournament (9), and is only 3 RBIs behind the all-time record of 12, held by Wladimir Balentien (2017 Classic). He’s currently turn out to be a clear folk hero in Mexico, and a trip to the semifinals could elevate him to legendary status. There may perhaps be nothing at all scarier than Arozarena in a quick series.

Venezuela: Is Miggy going to go out a champion?
Only two teams have been undefeated in the WBC so far: The white-hot sensation that is the Japanese group, and the Venezuelan group, which only produced it to the semifinals when, back in 2009. That group featured Magglio Ordonez, Bobby Abreu, Francisco Rodriguez, Endy Chavez, Felix Hernandez and … Miguel Cabrera, who, 14 years later, is captain of the group. He is also, as you could have heard, about to play his final season in the Majors, which indicates he’s got the chance to bookend his profession: A Globe Series title with the Marlins in his rookie season in 2003 and a WBC title with Venezuela in 2023. He has only played two games in the Classic so far, going 1-for-9, but he’ll unquestionably have the chance to finish off his profession in style.

United States: Is Trout going to carry the USA all the way?
This is Mike Trout’s 1st WBC — right after missing the 2017 championship, a thing he nevertheless regrets — and he is generating the most of it. The group captain is hitting .417 and has a homer and six RBIs, searching for all the planet like a guy who is completely elated, right after eight years away from higher-stakes elimination baseball, to play below some genuine stress. I’ve argued that this could finish up becoming The Year of Trout, and there’d be no far better way to kick that off than with Trout winning a WBC for the United States. He appears for all the planet like a man on a mission. It is a thing to see.

Cuba: Is this group — the 1st 1 with MLB players — the 1 that lastly breaks via?
Back in 2006, the Cuban group, which for the reason that of Cuban’s political predicament at the time, had a roster complete of players virtually no 1 knew outdoors the nation, completed second to Japan in the 1st Globe Baseball Classic. (Future Main Leaguers on that group incorporated Yuli Gurriel and Alexei Ramirez.) This year’s group, which, for the 1st time, capabilities players each from Cuban leagues and Main League Baseball (most notably Yoán Moncada and Luis Robert Jr.), is back in the semifinals for the 1st time because 2006. They have hardly been dominant in this tournament — they have been aspect of that 5-group scrum at two-two in Group A — but it does not matter what you have completed so far: All Cuba has to do is win two games in a row, and they will make history as only the fourth nation to win the Globe Baseball Classic.

Japan: Can this group be stopped?
Is it feasible this Japanese group has the most dominant group in WBC history? They’re undefeated in 5 games, certain, but they’ve completely trounced their opponents, outscoring them 47-11. They’ve got the most electric player on the planet in Shohei Ohtani, they have a folk hero (who also is placing up a .522 OBP) in Lars Nootbaar (the 1st non-Japanese-born player on their roster), they’ve got a lineup complete of mashers and, oh yeah, they’re even stealing a lot more bases than anyone else in the tournament. They’ve also been a riveting watch from commence to finish, thanks to Tokyo Dome fans who clearly reside and die with their dwelling country’s group. Can they bring all the joy with them on the flight to Miami? If Japan can win these final two games, they’ll have won 3 of the 5 Globe Baseball Classics. But when they speak about the most effective Japanese teams … I bet they’ll speak about this 1.

By Editor