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. A glossary of storyline characters can be looked at here. Also, hit any picture to make it bigger and more readable.
Week 6 would begin in Asia with a game between Taiwan and the visiting Korean team. And the home crowd went home happy, as the Taiwanese won 8-4. Cheng-Ming Peng homered in the win.
Later, Japan hosted Mexico. Both Chihiro Kaneko and Jaime Garcia pitched well in the starts, but Japan was able to get to Garcia and the Mexican bullpen for three runs in the 8th to pull out a 5-2 win.
In San Juan, Joe Maddon awoke. He had not been visited by Babe Ruth’s ghost the previous night, but he was still wary. However, it was Star Wars Day (“May The Fourth Be With You”), so he instead decided he’d get his mind off of the spectral slugger by having a team-bonding activity by having everybody dress up in Jedi robes. It’d be hilarious.
In the earlier games in the hemisphere, though, things were hilariously crazy. Colombia, for example, at one point led Canada 10-1 after 4-and-a-half innings, only to ultimately lose 12-11:
By the time of first pitch in Puerto Rico, the internet had seen the viral sensation of seeing Team USA in Jedi Robes, and, in fact, the force proved strong for the Americans, as Team USA beat Puerto Rico 10-1 in 8 innings, with the game being called in the 9th due to bad weather that mercifully ended the slaughter. Mike Trout hit two HRs, and Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Kemp, and Jimmy Rollins also homered.
The Venezuelans beat the Netherlands 4-2, as the Dutch- once one of the last teams to be defeated during the season- fell to 14-18.
In Cuba, Yasiel Puig homered twice and Yulieski Gourriel also homered, and Raisel Iglesias had 12 Ks in a 8-hit shutout, as Cuba defeated Australia 11-0. Ned Kelly O’Shaughessy drank a lot of rum in response to this.
Finally, Yan Gomes hit his second HR of the season as Team Rest-Of-World beat Italy, 9-3.
MORE BELOW THE JUMP.
The first game on this day was Mexico at Japan, and it ended in thrilling fashion as Tetsuto Yamada found a Dennys Reyes change-up and sent it into the Tokyo Dome crowd to give Japan a walk-off 6-4 win.
Korea was able to avoid the sweep in Taiwan, beating the home team 17-2 as Jung-Ho Kang went 4-5 with a walk and a home run.
Luca Panerati threw 7 innings and gave up just one run and Chris Colabello homered as Team Italy was able to beat Rest-Of-World, 4-1.
In Puerto Rico, Mike Trout had had 2 triples… by the fourth inning. But that didn’t help Team USA that much, and by the 7th inning they were down 5-3 after a 2-run 6th inning HR by Carlos Beltran off Matt Harvey. Team USA was able to get one run back in the 7th, but by the 9th they still trailed 5-4… until Giancarlo Stanton singled home Mike Trout with 2-outs in the top of the ninth to tie the game!
“Screw you, Bambino,” said Joe Maddon to nobody in particular. However, the game wasn’t over yet, as Team USA was unable to pull ahead and Craig Kimbrel shut down Puerto Rico in the bottom half, sending the game to extras…. where Puerto Rico would end up winning in 12 on a sac-fly by Yadier Molina.
“Screw you, Bambino,” said Joe Maddon to nobody in particular.
Elsewhere, the Dominican beat Panama 4-0 as Francisco Liriano gave up just 2 hits in 7.1 IP, Cuba beat Australia 5-3, Canada beat Colombia 4-1, and the Netherlands finally got back into the win column with a 10-5 victory over Venezuela.
Puerto Rico got Andres Torres off the DL, while Neftali Soto was sent to the Reserve Roster to make room for him.
Meanwhile the new round of series began: Panama at Australia, Venezuela at Korea, Puerto Rico at Netherlands, Cuba at Italy, Rest-Of-World at Colombia, Japan at USA, Dominican at Mexico and Taiwan at Canada.
Australia would beat Panama in the first game, 2-1, thanks to a walk-off home run by Stefan Welch. Sadly, the recording of Ned Kelly O’Shaughessy’s call of the play has been lost because the computer that stored it exploded from the volume of O’Shaughessy’s voice.
Venezuela beat Korea, 7-4, but was hurt by the fact that Oswaldo Arcia hurt his back during the game, and was expected to miss 1 to 2 weeks. Francisco Carabello, who plays in the Japanese independent leagues, was called up from the reserve roster, controversially being called before players like Alexi Amarista and Omar Infante, who have MLB experience (although, admittedly, Infante is more of an infielder).
While it was just one of many games that day, the game between Japan and USA was the one that got the most attention. Which was a bummer, because the game itself was miserable, played in rain and a lower-than-expected crowd. Oh, and Hisashi Iwakuma got hurt while warming up.
It wasn’t a bad game, per se, as the two teams traded home runs (Stanton and Posey for USA, Uchikawa for Japan) and hits until finally Craig Kimbrel got the save of a Team USA 6-3 win, but most everybody was glad it was over when it was done so they could get out of the freaking rain.
- Yan Gomes went 3-5 in Rest-Of-World’s 6-5 victory over Colombia.
- Puerto Rico returned the Netherlands into the loss column with a 10-3 win. Jose Berrios allowed just 3 hits and 2 ER in 7 innings of work.
- Cuba beat Italy 9-0 because they are Cuba and Italy is Italy. Fredy Asiel Alvarez allowed just 2 hits in 8 innings of work.
- Nelson Cruz hit his 13th HR of the year as the Dominican beat Mexico 5-3.
- Finally, Sheng-Hsiung Huang and C.C. Lee combined to shutout Canada, as Taiwan won 1-0.
Japan still awaited Hisashi Iwakuma’s diagnosis as the day’s games began.
Panama lost Ruben Rivera to an undisclosed and as-yet-undiagnosed injury, and also lost to Australia, 4-1.
A late run off Jean Machi allowed Korea to beat Venezuela, 5-4.
The Italians briefly held the lead in the bottom of the 1st, but then Cuba scored 12 unanswered to win it, 12-1.
Wladimir Balentien homered and had the game-winning walk-off single as the Netherlands beat Puerto Rico 5-4. Seven different Dutch pitchers (David Bergman left with an injury early in the game) combined to hold the Puerto Ricans to just 4 hits.
Once again, eyes were on USA-Japan. It would be Kershaw vs. Tanaka, and the weather was nicer this time… but then Kershaw left the game with an as-yet-undiagnosed injury in the 3rd inning, to be replaced by Steve Cishek, then Max Scherzer.
In the bottom of the 4th, Matt Kemp doubled home Paul Goldschmidt to give Team USA a 1-0 lead… and it would be just the first of 10 runs that Team USA would score in the game, as Max Scherzer took the team the rest of the way:
There was, of course, other action, as Taiwan edged out Canada 4-3 in 10 innings and Rest-Of-World beat Colombia 5-1. But the biggest game of the day actually turned out to be Dominican Republic at Mexico… in more ways than one:
Yes, the game went 18 innings, before finally the Dominican prevailed thanks to a RBI single by Jose Reyes in the 18th. (Sadly, I accidentally auto-simulated this game, so I couldn’t do a super-in-depth account of it, sorry.)
“Welcome to Under The Knife Injury Report, I’m Jeff Jiff.
Today, the Dominican Republic gets Carlos Gomez back, and Juan Lagares has been sent to the Reserve Roster to make room for him. That’s actually the only major injury news today, as other teams await hearing diagnoses.”
The game day opened with Panama beating Australia, 4-2, as a late Australian rally died in the 9th when Josh Dean struck out swinging with the bases loaded to end it.
Venezuela also saw a late rally come up short, as a 2-run 9th inning homer from Miguel Cabrera was too little and too late against the Koreans, who won 4-2. More troubling for Venezuela, though, was the fact that Felix Hernandez had to leave the game after 4 innings with an injury that had yet to be diagnosed.
There were 3 games that were day games to people on the East Coast of the USA. And the most surprising of them was Cuba-Italy, as the two went into extra innings scoreless! And that score kept holding! Even as a thrilling Japan-USA game was 7-6 USA in the 7th inning, all eyes were fixed upon the potential gigantic upset in Italy.
Finally, though, Alfedo Despaigne homered in the 13th, and that would be enough, as the Cubans won 1-0.
The Netherlands beat Puerto Rico 1-0 thanks to an excellent performance by Rick Vandenhurk, who went 8 innings and allowed only 2 hits.
And, in Boston, Team USA won a back-and-forth game with Japan, 8-7, mainly because of an excellent performance by Giancarlo Stanton, who homered and tripled, racking up 5 RBIs on the game. Interestingly, though, Craig Kimbrel finally showed humanity, giving up an earned run- his first of the year- in the 9th to a single from Seiichi Uchikawa. His ERA now stood at… 0.53.
In night-time action, Andrew Albers through 8 shutout innings as Canada beat Taiwan, 3-0, while Colombia beat Rest-Of-World 3-1 behind a 8-inning stint by Jose Quintana.
And, in Mexico, the Mexicans were able to upset the Dominican, 2-1, thanks to a nice performance by Yovani Gallardo and some clutch hitting from Adrian Gonzalez. It was only the Dominican’s 3rd loss of the year.
It was an off-day in the International Baseball Competition, but it was hardly a uneventful day.
For one, Venezuela heard very bad news: Felix Hernandez had bone spurs and would be out for five months. In theory he could return for the playoffs. In theory.
And then there was what Joe Maddon heard from Babe Ruth’s ghost:
“I still want to see offensive explosions. Oh, and by the way, Troy Tulowitzki has suffered a set-back and will be out a few days longer than expected.”
The Bambino was good a burying the lede.
More diagnoses came in around the Competition:
Japan learned Hisashi Iwakuma would be out two weeks with a shoulder strain (Hideki Okajima was called up from the reserve roster and Hiroki Kuroda was promoted to the starting rotation to fill in the spot).
Panama learned that Ruben Rivera would be out five weeks with a strained abdominal (Infielder Luis Caballero was called up from the reserve roster to fill his roster spot- the Panamanians have a severe lack of depth with outfielders).
Italy learned that OF Lorenzo Avagnina had ruptured his MCL and would be out the rest of the season.
But, the games would go on! The end of Week 6 would see the start of new series! Netherlands at Japan! Venezuela at Taiwan! Korea at Puerto Rico! USA at Dominican! Colombia at Cuba! Australia at Mexico! Italy at Panama! Canada at Rest-Of-World! Those could make for some interesting match-ups, but none bigger that USA at Dominican, who were the top two teams in the standings.
First though, there were the earlier games to be played.
In Tokyo, Japan beat the Dutch, 8-1. Yoshihiro Maru homered in the win, while Wladimir Balentien homered in the loss.
In Taipei, the home team beat Venezuela 7-6 in 12 innings thanks to a walk-off HR from Yung-Chi Chen.
And then, at mid-day, it was what many people were calling the “Main Event”: Team USA at Team Dominican. Stephen Strasburg would start against Michael Pineda.
Team USA would draw first blood, as Paul Goldschmidt hit a 2-RBI double. But an error by Andrew McCutchen allowed the Dominican to get a run on the board in their half of the first.
The Dominican would have a chance to tie it in the third, as Robinson Cano decided to challenge Mike Trout’s arm as he tried to score from second on a 2-out Albert Pujols single. We now bring you the call from the Scully-Bot 5000:
And Cano is trying for home! You can hear this crowd go wild! Trout is unleashing a strong throw! This is going to be close, folks! Posey has it- a great throw from Trout- and here’s the tag… and… CANO IS OUT! Team USA escapes the third inning with it’s one-run lead intact! A tremendous throw from Trout!
Yes, it was a great play from Mike Trout.
Team USA would extend their lead in the the fifth when Andrew McCutchen hit Matt Carpenter home with a single to make it 3-1.
But then, in the 6th, with Jose Bautista on first, Albert Pujols came to the plate. We again go to the Scully-Bot 5000:
And the pitch from Strasburg, and it is BELTED! Towards the gap in left center and deep. Trout is going back, McCutchen is going back, but neither of them has any shot. Albert Pujols has just tied this game at three with a 2-run Home Run, and the Dominican fans are loving it!
Perhaps inevitably, the game ended up going into extra innings.
In the top of the 10th, Joaquin Benoit walked Jimmy Rollins and then gave up a double to Matt Carpenter. And so, with no outs, the Dominican was in a pickle: two men in scoring position and with Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton all coming up.
Tony Pena stuck with Benoit. And at first it looked like that faith would be rewarded, as he struck out Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen.
Giancarlo Stanton, however, would have none of it, finding a Benoit change-up and sending it up the middle to score Rollins and Carpenter. 5-3 USA.
And it was a good thing for Team USA that they had gotten those two runs, because Robinson Cano led off the bottom of the 10th with a solo shot against Sean Doolittle to make it 5-4. Cano now was just a single away from the cycle, but presumably he hoped that he wouldn’t have a chance to do so- so long as the reason was a Dominican win.
Sadly for Cano, he wouldn’t get that chance, and the reason was because Doolittle (Kimbrel hadn’t been brought in due to heavy usage the last several days) was able to get the next three hitters, allowing Team USA to win, 5-4.
Not many people actually remember it, but in Puerto Rico that day Korea beat the Puerto Ricans, 4-3. But, again, everybody was so focused on the USA-DR game that not much is remembered, although the box score says that the teams combined for five home runs, which is nice.
The games went on after the first game of the “Main Event” happened, of course:
- Raisel Iglesias 3-hit Colombia in Cuba’s 6-1 win.
- Ryan Rowland-Smith went eight 3-hit innings and Tom Brice homered in Australia’s 4-0 win over Mexico, leading Ned Kelly O’Shaughessy to drink many cervezas in celebration.
- Panama took advantage of a 6-run 4th inning to beat Italy, 10-6.
- Yan Gomes homered in a 6-1 Rest-Of-World victory over Canada.
END OF WEEK 6
As the week ended, Team USA finally found out what happened with Kershaw: forearm strain, out 4 weeks. Kevin Quackenbush was called upon to fill his roster spot and Max Scherzer was moved back out of the bullpen and into the rotation.
The Standings at the end of Week 6:
Team Rest-Of-World is, as the name suggests, a team made up of the best players from countries that don’t have enough players to be full teams in the IBC. It’s an eclectic mix, needless to say.
GM: Ron Gardenhire (born on an American army base in Germany. Note that the GM position in this is more-or-less ceremonial due to a lack of trades, free agents, etc.)
Manager: Dennis Martinez (beloved Nicaraguan pitcher, manager of Team Nicaragua in 2012’s WBC qualifying tournament)
Bench Coach: Andy Skeels (Born in New Zealand and manager of them in 2012’s WBC qualifying tournament. Currently a coach in the Giants system)
Pitching Coach: Eric Gagne (Canadian, but his Quebecois background and knowledge of French has led him to work with the French National team in various competitions the last few years)
Hitting Coach: Chilli Davis (Jamaican-Born hitting coach for the Red Sox)
Team Trainer: Fictional placeholder
Active Roster Hitters (click to read in bigger text, and note that Cheslor Cuthbert and Max Kepler are currently on the DL):
Next Time: More USA-Dominican Action!