OOTP International Baseball Competition Part 4: Can Italy finally win a game?

Throughout the year, I’ll be posting updates of a simulated league from Out Of The Park Baseball 2016 made up of national “dream teams” to determine what the greatest baseball country on Earth is… or something like that. Previous installments can be found here. This is a long post, so there is a JUMP after the first day. Also, hit any picture to make it bigger and more readable.

April 13

A day of rest across the Competition. Some minor moves here and there, such as Australia placing Brendan Wise on the DL and Mexico doing the same with Luis Alfonzo Garcia, but nothing Earth shattering. Instead, teams prepared for their next series: Dominican Republic at Australia, Rest-Of-World at South Korea, Mexico at Taiwan, Japan at Italy, Cuba at Netherlands, Panama at USA, Venezuela at Canada, Puerto Rico at Colombia. The best series of the bunch, most agreed, would be Cuba-Netherlands. However, a morbid curiosity had taken hold with Team Italy, the only team still without a win, as they were to host Japan, 9-3 and with their only losses coming against the Dominican… who, it should be noted, were waiting for Italy after the Japan series.

It’s not like they hadn’t had chances: they’d lost by just one to the Netherlands early in the season, and had at one point held a 5-0 lead on Puerto Rico. But, in the end, without fail, every time the final out was recorded, Marco Nanni’s team had lost.

But, hey, maybe this would be the week!

MORE AFTER JUMP:

April 14

The news came out from Team USA early on: on the off-day, Dellin Betances had been injured in a scooter accident and would be out two weeks:

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 2.59.40 PM“I didn’t even know he had a scooter,” said USA skipper Joe Maddon, “I would have asked to ride it. Scooters are cool.”

To take Betances’ spot in the bullpen, Kevin Quackenbush of the Padres was called up from the reserve roster.

In game action, the Dominican-Australia game was the first of the day, and Australia took the lead in the bottom of the 2nd on a Tim Kennelly single, but the Dominican took the lead with three runs in the 7th and ended up winning 5-1, with HRs by Nelson Cruz and Hanley Ramirez.

Korea beat Rest-of-World, 5-2, as Won-Joon Jang picked up the win.

Mexico beat Taiwan 4-3 thanks to a 3-run rally in the 8th. Karim Garcia and Enrique Osorio homered for Mexico, while Chih-Sheng Lin went deep for Taiwan.

At 1:05, three games started: Japan-Italy, Cuba-Netherlands and Panama-USA.

To the surprise of nobody, Japan got on the board first against Italy, scoring a run in the top of the first. But then, a strange thing happened: They stopped scoring runs. And then, an even stranger thing happened: Italy tied the score in the bottom of the 6th on a Chris Colabello double.

And then, as if some otherworldly force was trying to stop the Italians from possibly winning the game, the skies opened up in Nettuno in the top of the 7th with one out:

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 3.30.05 PMIt would conclude tomorrow as part of a doubleheader, everyone was told. But it must have felt like a great disappointment to the Italians, especially Luca Panerati, who had held Japan to only 1 run in the 6.1 IP he had pitched.

Interestingly, the game that everybody thought would be interesting, Cuba-Netherlands, was anything but, as the Cubans easily won 8-1 as Roenis Elias went 6.2 IP with just three hits given up and no earned runs, while Alfredo Despaigne and Alexi Bell both homered.

The third of the 1:05 games was Panama at USA, and, as had happened a few other times, Team USA’s big bats made a massacre of it:

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 3.40.34 PMPaul Goldschmidt hit a grand slam, Buster Posey homered, Giancarlo Stanton went 1-3 but homered and walked four times, Troy Tulowitzki went 4-6 with 2 doubles, and Stephen Strasburg got the win with 7.2 IP, 6 H, and 1 ER. The Panamanians used seven pitchers in the game.

“These guys could put 40 up on the Italians,” said one observer.

Up in Canada, the Canadians beat the Venezuelans 3-2 on a walk-off single by Pete Orr in the 9th. However, Russell Martin was hurt running the bases earlier in the game, in what would be a major blow to the Canadian offense if the diagnosis came back serious. Joey Votto hit his second home run of the year, while Miguel Cabrera somehow hit only his first (!).

Finally, Yadier Molina continued his hot streak after being named Player of the Week for Week 2, going 5-5 in Puerto Rico’s 14-3 win over Colombia. Angel Pagan homered twice, while Carlos Beltran also found the stands. On the downside for Puerto Rico, Pedro Feliciano was hurt in his relief appearance, and was awaiting diagnosis.

April 15

It turned out Feliciano only had a blister and was day-to-day, which was good for Puerto Rico.

Two games started very early on this day: Dominican-Australia and the continuation of Japan-Italy. In a surprising move, Marco Nanni sent out Luca Panerati to continue pitching, picking up in the top of the 7th. And, perhaps even more surprisingly, he did fine, as the Italians got out of the 7th still tied 1-1. Even more surprising than that, though, was the fact that Hisashi Iwakuma also took the mound for his second straight day of work. And, with one out in the 7th, he made a major mistake, hanging a curveball to Francesco Imperiali (who, in a previous life, had briefly been a Seattle Mariners minor leaguer). The ball was walloped to left as a line drive that cleared everything for a solo home run. Somehow, Italy now led 2-1 in the bottom of the 7th.

“Mama Mia! Imperiali tonfi un homer!” (“Mama Mia, Imperiali thumps a homer!”), cried out Italy’s webcast announcer Luigi Auditore, who, little known to anyone, was actually an American who didn’t speak a word of Italian and made his calls based on Google translations and stereotypical catch-phrases. He had no idea if what he said worked or not.

In the top of the 8th, Panerati was replaced by Riccardo De Santis, an Italian Leaguer. He was able to get the Japanese out 1-2-3. After a scoreless bottom of the 8th, Nanni called upon Roberto Corradini- another Italian Leaguer- to get the save and Italy’s first win.

He struck out Yuki Yanagita to start the inning, and then he got Yuhei Nakamura to pop up to right field. At least, that’s what it looked like…

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 4.08.58 PMMario Chiarini’s error put the tying run on base with the top of Japan’s order coming up.

But, it looked he would be swiftly redeemed, as Yuya Hasegawa grounded up the middle. Shortstop Giueseppe Mazzanti got it got Nakamura at second! It looked like it would be a game-ending double play!

…But Hasegawa beat the throw out at first. Still, Italy was just one out away from it’s first win, and against Japan, no less!

And, what do you know… Corradini struck out Hisayoshi Chono, and, amazingly, the Italians had finally gotten into the win column!

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 4.13.33 PMIn other action:

  • The Dominican beat Australia 5-3, and Pedro Martinez was kind enough to Ned Kelly O’Shaughessy during the slug-fest, which saw 5 HRs. Jose Bautista and Albert Pujols hit ones for the DR, while Mitch Dening, Stefan Welch and Trent Oeltjen had home runs for Australia.
  • Rest-Of-World surprised the Koreans with a 7-6 win, as Shin-Soo Choo- the would-be tying run- was thrown out at home to end the game. Belgian Dutch-Leaguer Benjamin Dille went 4-4 in the win and was named the Player of the Game, despite also committing two errors at 3rd base. However, a major blow may have hit the Rest-of-Worlders, as Yan Gomes was injured running the bases. They would have to wait for the diagnosis.
  • Taiwan edged Mexico 5-4, as Chih-Sheng Lin went deep in the victory while Cantu and Luis Cruz had homers in defeat.
  • Cuba again beat the Netherlands, this time 4-1. Giorvis Duvergal and Alfredo Despaigne had HRs for Cuba, while Xander Bogaerts had his first HR of the competition for the Netherlands.
  • Team USA score 6 runs in the bottom of the 8th to pull ahead of Panama and win 10-5. Trout, Stanton, Longoria, Kemp and Posey all homered for Team USA, while Gerald Chin and Ruben Tejada found the seats for Panama.
  • Venezuela beat Canada 9-4, as Sandoval and Carlos Gonzalez hit HRs for them while Canada saw Brett Lawrie and Joey Votto go deep.
  • Puerto Rico beat back a late Colombian rally to edge them, 9-8.
  • And, yes, Japan and Italy played another game. But this time, Italy most decidedly did NOT win, as Japan came out victorious 13-4.

April 16

Before the rubber-match between Australia and the Dominican, Ned Kelly O’Shaughessy and Pedro Martinez had made a gentleman’s bet: loser would have to pay for drinks post-game. Pedro well knew that even his vast fortune would be depleted by Ned’s infamous thirst for booze, beer and other alcoholic beverages, but, hey, what were the odds that the Dominican would lose to Australia?

Well, with two outs in the top of the 9th and Australia up 2-1, Pedro was rather worried. He didn’t have to be: an Ortiz walk and a Nelson Cruz home run later, and the Dominican was up 3-2. The bullpen held it, and Pedro left Australia none the lighter in the pocket.

Up in Korea, Suk-Min Yoon went 8 innings of 3-hit ball as South Korea beat Rest-Of-The-World 7-0. Jeong Choi homered.

In Taiwan, the home team beat Mexico 7-4 as Yi-Chuan Lin went 3-4 with a HR and 3 RBIs. The injuries kept piling up for the Competition, however, as Alfredo Amezaga of Mexico got hurt. Like so many other teams, Mexico now awaited a diagnosis.

Japan finished off Italy with another win, but it got a little scary for them, as Italy scored three times in the bottom of the 9th to close the gap to 7-3 and chase away Masahiro Tankaka, who had otherwise been brilliant. Still, they weren’t able to get anything else, and Japan got the victory.

Cuba swept away the Netherlands with a 7-5 win in 11 innings, finally taking the lead for good on a 2-run Giorvis Duvergal shot in the 11th. Yulieski Gourriel also found the seats, while the Netherlands saw HR from Roger Bernadina, Xander Bogaerts and Didi Gregorius. Andruw Jones left the game with a strain and ended up being day-to-day, while Cuba’s Jose Angel Garcia, a reliever, also was injured and was awaiting diagnosis.

In night games in the Western Hemisphere, Venezuela beat Canada 6-2 in 11 innings, partly because of an 11th-inning 3-run shot by Pablo Sandoval. Yet another injury struck, however, as Avisail Garcia of Venezuela left the game and was awaiting diagnosis.

In Boston, something happened that hadn’t happened before during the season: Joe Mauer played! Starting at 1st base, Mauer went 2-4 with a RBI as Team USA beat Panama 12-2. The star of the show, however, was Giancarlo Stanton, who went 3-5 with a 2B, HR and 6 RBIs. Mike Trout also homered.

The last game to end was Puerto Rico and Colombia, and Puerto Rico would win 11-6, despite a brief rain delay.

April 17

It turned out many of the injuries of the past few days had been fairly benign. Yan Gomes, for example, was only day-to-day with a tight hammy, while Andruw Jones had merely strained his hamstring. However, Alfredo Amezaga of Mexico wasn’t so lucky, as it turned out he’d fractured his finger and would miss the next 3 to 4 months.

New series were beginning: Taiwan at Australia, Colombia at Japan, Canada at Puerto Rico, South Korea at Cuba, Italy at Dominican, Netherlands at Panama, USA at Mexico, and Venezuela at Rest-Of-World.

Australia was helpless against Wei-Yin Chen, as he had a complete-game shutout, giving up only 4 hits and striking out 9 as Taiwan won, 8-0. Cheng-Ming Peng had a home run.

The other “East Coast Early Morning” game was also a blow-out, as Japan clobbered Colombia 10-1. Takahiro Norimoto allowed only 3 hits in the complete game, while Yanagita, Abe and Chono had home runs for Japan.

During the day, a slugfest occurred in Puerto Rico, as Canada beat out Puerto Rico 12-5 in a game that saw 7 home runs. Dalton Pompey, Rene Tosoni and Joey Votto had home runs for Canada, while Carlos Beltran, Kennys Vargas and Christian Colon (who had 2) found the seats for Puerto Rico.

Italy was, not surprisingly, hapless against the Dominican, losing 5-0 and getting complete-game shut-out 4-hit by Johnny Cueto. Edwin Encarnacion hit a home run in the Dominican win, his third on the year.

Cuba continued it’s hot-streak with a 3-0 victory over South Korea, their fourth straight win.

The Netherlands recovered from their sweep at the hands of Cuba to demolish Panama, 11-1, as Roger Bernadina and Jonathan Schoop had home runs.

In Monterrey, Mexico outhit Team USA, but couldn’t outscore them, as Team USA won 2-1 despite being outhit 7-2 and Clayton Kershaw pitched 8 innings, allowing only the one run. Buster Posey homered.

Finally, Venezuela beat Rest-Of-World 7-3, as Asdrubal Cabrera went 3-4 with a 2B, HR and 3 RBIs.

April 18

“Welcome to Under The Knife, I’m Jeff Jiff.

Canada and Cuba both received bad news today.

Canada found out that Russell Martin, their excellent catcher, has a strained hip muscle and will be out for 3 months. The Canadian-born Mike Nickeas has been called up off the reserve roster. On the bright side, Michael Saunders and Tyson Gillies have come off the DL. Interestingly enough, Rene Tosoni ended up being sent to the reserve roster to make room for Saunders and Gillies, only a day after having a 4 RBI day. Tough break!

Cuba, meanwhile, has lost the service of Jose Angel Garcia, who will be out five months with severe inflammation.”

After the game, fans got to listen to Ned Kelly O’Shaughessy call Taiwan-Australia. Taiwan won 3-1, although C.C. Lee blistered his fingers on the play of the game, making the Taiwanese closer day-to-day.

Japan beat Colombia 8-0, as Chihiro Kaneko got the win, and  Seiichi Uchikawa and Haruki Nishikawa both hit home runs.

Canada edged out Puerto Rico 6-5 in San Juan, despite two home runs from Javier Baez.

The Netherlands defeated Panama, 7-5, as Roger Bernadina, Wladimir Balentien, Xander Bogaerts and Shawn Zarraga hit home runs for the Dutch, while Ruben Rivera hit a dinger for Panama.

A slug-fest happened in Cuba between the Koreans and Cubans, as Cuba came out ahead, 14-8. However, only two home runs took place: a Friedrich Cepeda shot for Cuba and a Dae-Ho Lee bomb for Korea. Yong-Taek Park of South Korea, who had been hitting .421 on the year, strained his hamstring and would miss two weeks.

Anibal Sanchez was masterful in Venezuela’s 3-1 win over Rest-Of-World, giving up just 4 hits and an unearned run in 8 innings of work.

Chris Sale also had a good day at work, throwing a complete game with 5 hits allowed and 15 strikeouts as Team USA beat Mexico 9-3. The only runs on the day were a pair of Mexican homers, one from Karim Garcia and one from Luis Cruz. Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout found the seats for Team USA.

And in the Dominican, the DR demolished Italy… wait, what? It’s tied 1-1 in the ninth? Let’s go into that game:

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 1.02.33 PMA 1-15 team was tied with a 15-1 team! In the 15-1 team’s house! How did this happen?

Well, in the first inning, Alex Liddi had a RBI double off of Michael Pineda. In the second, Wilin Rosario hit a solo shot off of Matteo D’Angelo. But since then, no runs had been scored. And so, Joaquin Benoit took the mound for the 9th with the score at 1-1.

No worries for Benoit, though, as he sent the Italians down 1-2-3.

Riccardo De Santis of the Italian League took over on the mound for the bottom of the 9th, looking to force extra innings. So far, he had 6.1 IP on the year, and a 7.11 ERA.

He got Starling Marte to ground out, but then Albert Pujols was sent up as a pinch-hitter for Jose Reyes. Santis walked him. And then came Robinson Cano- he walked him too.

Then came David Ortiz, and on the first pitch he saw, he found a 86 MPH pitch and pulled it 379 feet into the right-field stands for the walk-off 3-run homer.

Italy had lost. Again.

April 19

The last day of Week 3 was a good day for Australia, as they beat Taiwan 5-0 as Ned Kelly O’Shaughessy drunkenly sang and celebrated the whole way. Chris Oxspring had a complete-game shutout, allowing 6 hits and striking out 7 along the way, while Josh Dean hit his first home run of the competition with a pinch-hit dinger in what was also his first at-bat of the competition!

Although Colombia also threatened to upset and held a lead at one point, Japan would have none of it, winning 5-1 as Shinnosuke Abe homered. Yuhei Nakamura, however, was injured during the game and was awaiting diagnosis.

Javier Baez sent the Puerto Rican fans home happy with a walk-off home run in the 9th inning against Canada, as they won 11-9. It also made up for two errors that Baez committed during the game.

Panama squeaked by the Netherlands, 3-2, as a Shawn Zarraga drive died just inches from the fence for the final out.

The Dominican finally had the gigantic rout of Italy that many had expected in the first two games of the series, winning 16-1 as Adrian Beltre went 6-6, Edwin Encarnacion homered, and Francisco Liriano struck out 14 in 8.2 innings of work. Pedro Martinez cried out: “Somebody please show some mercy!” at one point. It was funny. People laughed.

Cuba beat Korea 12-7 in what could perhaps best be described as the Alfredo Despaigne was named the player of the game, as he doubled and homered while Korea saw home runs by Jung-Ho Kang, Dae-Ho Lee and two from Suk-Min Park in defeat.

Stephen Strasburg was great for Team USA… until the 9th inning, it’s then that he walked Enrique Osorio and gave up a 2-run game-tying home run from Carlos Manuel Rodriguez. Craig Kimbrel came in and ended the inning, but the damage was done and USA and Mexico went into extras in Monterrey.

The tenth was scoreless, but Troy Tulowitzki put the pressure on Mexico early in the 11th with a lead-off single off of Fernando Salas. Matt Kemp struck out, but then Buster Posey walked. And up to the plate came Evan Longoria, who was arguably the MVP of Team USA so far, with a .458 batting average and 4 HRs. Not bad for a hitter who was often hitting in the 9-hole!

Longoria worked a 2-1 count, and then a ball got past the Mexican catcher, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, sending the runners to 3rd and 2nd. Longoria was then walked to load the bases for Matt Carpenter… who grounded into a potentially game-saving double play for Mexico.

Greg Holland put the Mexicans down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 11th, and so the game went to the 12th.

Joakim Soria took the mound for Mexico and struck out Mike Trout to start the inning. But then Paul Goldschmidt hit a long double. Giancarlo Stanton, however, failed to bring Goldschmidt home, striking out for the 5th time of the day. Andrew McCutchen then popped up, and the top of the 12th came to an end.

Holland, in his second inning of work, sent Mexico down 1-2-3 again, and the game went to the 13th.

Nothing was doing for the Americans against Soria in the 13th, and Holland pitched a scoreless bottom. So to the 14th the game went.

Soria was getting tired by this point, and after a one-out double by Matt Carpenter, he was pulled for Dennys Reyes. Trout moved Carpenter to third with a groundout, but Goldschmidt struck out, so, once again, Team USA failed to capitalize.

David Robertson took the mound for Team USA in the bottom of the 14th and struck out the side. To the 15th the game went, where Giancarlo Stanton struck out for the 6th time.

Reyes then walked Andrew McCutchen, and then disaster struck as he threw away a pick-off throw, allowing McCutchen to move to second. Then, finally, Matt Kemp put Team USA up with RBI hit, taking second on the throw home. Team USA now led 3-2 in the 15th. Robertson would lock the game down, and 3-2 would be the final score:

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 2.11.39 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-04 at 2.13.00 PMPost-game, Joe Maddon quipped that he would buy Giancarlo Stanton an actual golden sombrero, while also giving much of the credit for the win to the excellent relief pitchers, who had no-hit Mexico over 7 innings pitched.

Lost in the action, another game also took place at the same time, as Venezuela crushed Rest-Of-World 14-2 as Pablo Sandoval went 5-6 with a HR and 3 RBIs.

End of Week 3

After 3 weeks of International Baseball Competition, the standings looked like this:

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 2.24.23 PMThe top player for Week 3 was Dae-Ho Lee of Korea:

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 2.26.08 PMIn the Power Rankings, it looked like this:

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 2.27.10 PMFinally, as the 4th week of the International Baseball Competition started, a few roster moves were made as players left or entered the DL:

  •  Canada’s Jim Henderson came off the DL, and James Avery (still suspended for a fracas with South Korea) was sent to the reserve roster to make room. Henderson took the closer role from Jesse Crain.
  • Cuba had Rusney Castillo arrived from the DL, but ended up on the Reserve Roster.
  • Yoshio Itoi came off the DL for Japan, Takumi Kuriyama found himself the odd man out and was sent to the reserve roster.
  • Nicaraguan Ofilo Castro came off the DL for Team Rest-Of-World. Gift Ngoepe, who hadn’t been able to get any game action, was sent back to the Reserve Roster.
  • And, finally, Matt Wieters and Sean Doolittle came off the DL for Team USA. Kevin Quackenbush (who hadn’t seen any action) was sent to the reserve roster to make room for Doolittle, while Matt Wieters went straight to the reserve roster.

And now… BETTER KNOW A TEAM: TEAM USA!

It’s time to get to know Team USA a bit better! What players are on them, what players are available on their reserve roster? What are their line-ups and depth charts? Well, buckle up, because you are about to find out.

(All rosters, lineups and the like are as-of the end of Week 3 and start of Week 4)

Team USA’s Coaching Staff and personnel: 

GM (mostly an aesthetic thing): Brian Sabean (Giants)

Manager: Joe Maddon (Cubs)

Bench Coach: Buck Showalter (Orioles)

Pitching Coach: Mike Maddux (Rangers)

Hitting Coach: Kevin Long (Mets)

Team Doctor: Nick Kenney (Royals)

Scouting Director: Terry Ryan (Twins)

Active Roster Hitters (click to embiggen):

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 2.46.27 PMActive Roster Pitchers (click to embiggen):

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 2.59.52 PMReserve Roster Hitters (click to embiggen):

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 3.02.04 PMReserve Roster Pitchers (click to embiggen):

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 3.02.54 PMDellin Betances is on the DL.

Rotation and Bullpen roles (click to embiggen):

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 3.04.26 PMBatting Order and Depth Chart vs. RHP (click to embiggen):

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 3.05.47 PMBatting Order and Depth Chart vs. LHP (click to embiggen):

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 3.06.40 PMI believe that Joe Mauer being a back-up RF is a result of a single game he played there a few years back.

Next Time: Cuba vs. Venezuela! And, later, Netherlands vs. USA!

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One thought on “OOTP International Baseball Competition Part 4: Can Italy finally win a game?

  1. Pingback: Recurring Characters of the OOTP International Baseball Competition | The Baseball Continuum

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