If you have been following the WBC then no doubt you've heard about the amazing upset of Netherlands over the Dominican Republic. This of course was the second upset between these two teams. Prior to last nights game, I thought that the Dutch had just gotten lucky. When they played team Puerto Rico, I saw how many runners they put on base, and how often they narrowly escaped defeat. But last night's game was different. I watched the Netherlands limit a lineup of major league power hitters to just one extra base hit and 1 run over 11 innings. We're talking about a lineup that consisted of Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Robinson Cano, Miguel Tejada, and David Ortiz among others. Dutch pitching has been really impressive, but their offense has been lackluster. You have to wonder how they'll hold up against teams in the second round. However, for now, the Netherlands have been more than impressive and have earned their spot in the second round.
Another surprising team is that of Australia. After a major blow out of Mexico, Australia had to go head-to-head with Cuba. What I expected to be a fairly easy game for Cuba turned out to be a very competitive match. Cuba won 5-4 with a pinch hit homerun in the 8th inning being the difference. I didn't watch the whole game though I did see this one play by the Cuban team that was impressive. A groundball was hit up the middle and the Cuban second baseman was running away from first base to grab the ball. Since he was running away from first he wasn't going to be able to turn and make a good throw, so instead he flips the ball to the shortstop who makes the throw to first in time to get the runner out. I think Cano and Jeter should work on that play. Australia will play Mexico tonight, and the loser is eliminated. Australia has vastly improved since the last classic, so I wouldn't be surprised if they do decently in the second round.
I watched the spring training game yesterday on YES, and Joba returned to form. His fastball varied in speed, but he dialed it up a couple times, and it seemed to come out of his hand pretty easy. He threw 3 innings with 3 strikeouts and 1 run. The releivers that came in after him did a good job as well, with Coke and Igawa combining for 4 innings of scoreless baseball. Igawa even pitched two perfect innings. No hits, no walks, a pair of strikeouts, it was....different. Further more, Shelley Duncan and Juan Miranda beasted some homeruns yesterday. Montero got another hit as well, and Gardner is basically securing that centerfield role going 2-3 with a run batted in. Ransom also went 2-3 with an RBI, furthering his case for being A-Rod's short term replacement.
With the first round WBC eliminations coming in, the Yankees are already getting back a lot of their players. So far, Mariano Rivera has already returned from his coaching position on team Panama, and Damaso Marte, Jose Veras, Robinson Cano, and Francisco Cervelli are all returning soon. A lot of teams don't like that they have to go without some of their players during the WBC, but a lot of them come back after the first round eliminates half the teams in contention. I'm just not feeling that argument.