Thursday, March 9, 2017

Mexico loses 10-4 to Arizona; WBC Pool D opens Thursday

Despite taking an early lead by scoring a pair of first inning runs off former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, the Mexican National Team ended up losing a 10-4 decision to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a World Baseball Classic tuneup Wednesday at Scottsdale, Arizona.  The loss came a day after a defeat at the hands of the San Diego Padres as the Verdes Grande played a pair of Major League Baseball sides in preparation for the World Baseball Classic.

Dodgers prospect Alex Verdugo led off the game by singling to left field off Greinke, followed by a Luis Alfonso Cruz double to left that brought Verdugo all the way in from first base to give Mexico a 1-0 lead.  Cruz advanced to third on Brandon Laird's flyout to center and scored on Efren Navarro's line-drive single up the middle to bring the lead to 2-0.  Navarro went from first to third on Chris Roberson's two-out single, but Greinke then picked Roberson off first to end the inning.

The lead held until the bottom of the third, when the Diamondbacks scored three times.  Oswaldo Arcia led off by waiting out Mexico starter Hector Daniel Rodriguez, who then gave up consecutive singles to Jack Reinheimer, Kristopher Negron and Domingo Leyba, with Negron's driving in Arcia and Leyba's safety plating Reinheimer to tie the game.  Idelmara Vargas lofted a sacrifice fly to Verdugo in right for the inning's first out, but Negron came in to give Arizona a 3-2 advantage.  Rodriguez got the final two outs on three pitches.

The Snakes were up by a 5-2 count when Mexico next scored in the top of the seventh when Sebastian Elizalde's bases-loaded walk issued by Kevin Jepsen pushed Luis Urias across the plate with a run.  After Arizona scored once more in the bottom of the seventh, the Mexicans scored in the top of the eighth when Japhet Amador's groundout to third sent Manny Rodriguez in from third to close to gap to 6-4, but the Diamonbacks put four more runs on the board in the bottom of the frame to put the game away, with Evan Marzilli's three-run homer off reliever Will Locante the key blow.  Locante is a former D-Backs farmhand now in the Padres organization who was among a handful of pitching fill-ins for Mexico as manager Gonzalez wanted to save some wear and tear on his mound staff prior to the opening of WBC play.

Greinke got the win for the Diamondbacks despite allowing two runs on four hits and two walks in two innings. Danny Rodriguez was tagged with the loss by coughing up four runs on as many hits in two-plus frames, striking out two.  Manny Rodriguez had a single and double for the Mexicans, who were outhit by a 14-10 margin and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position over the contest.  A crowd of 6,391 watched the encounter under sunny skies at Salt River Fields.

After the game, the Verdes Grande headed south to Guadalajara for Thursday's WBC Pool D opening game at 8PM Central Time against Italy at Estadio Charros after an elaborate ceremony.  Here is the entire Pool D schedule:

Thursday, March 9 - Mexico vs. Italy, 8:00pm CT
Friday, March 10 - Venezuela vs. Puerto Rico, 8:00pm CT
Saturday, March 11 - Venezuela vs. Italy, 2:00pm CT
Saturday, March 11 - Puerto Rico vs. Mexico, 8:30pm CT
Sunday, March 12  - Italy vs. Puerto Rico, 1:30pm CDT
Sunday, March 12 - Mexico vs. Venezuela, 8:00pm CDT
Monday, March 13 - Tiebreaker (if needed), 7:00pm CDT

Play in Pools A and B has already begun, with Israel the early surprise team with Pool A upset wins over South Korea, Taiwan and The Netherlands, punching their ticket to the second round.  The Dutch will also advance while the favored Koreans and Taiwanese will square off Thursday night in Seoul with matching 0-2 records and a lot of questions to answer from their respective fan bases, particularly in South Korea.

In Pool B action at the Tokyo Dome, host Japan is 2-0 after wins over Cuba and Australia heading into Friday's likely win over China (which has lost twice by an aggregate score of 17-0), and will move on to the WBC quarterfinals.  Australia and Cuba will play Thursday night to determine the second Pool B team to reach the final eight.

In addition to Pool D in Guadalajara at the only opening-round venue without a roof, Pool C play gets underway Thursday when Canada meets the Dominican Republic in Miami's Marlins Stadium.  The USA will play Colombia on Friday night.