Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 3/4/13
There were only two World Baseball Classic games early on this Monday morning. Neither of them were particularly compelling matchups, with Cuba and South Korea figuring to far outstrip their opponents from China and Australia, respectively. Nonetheless, the games were important. Cuba could wrap up a second round berth for both themselves and Japan with a win, while South Korea needed a victory to keep their hopes of advancing past the first round for the third straight tournament alive.  We'll round up last night's action after the jump, and talk about what lies ahead in the final days of group play for Pools A and B.  Cuba 12, China 0 (7 innings)  The first mercy rule of the 2013 WBC! Honestly, I don't know that there's much meaningful to pull out of this game. Cuba crushed the ball, with six of their 15 hits going for extra bases. That includes a game-breaking grand slam and an RBI double by Jose Abreu, a two-run homer by Alexei Bell, a double and a triple by Frederich Cepeda, and double and a single by Alfredo Despaigne, and three singles by second baseman Jose Fernandez that lead to him scoring four times. The Cuban pitchers -- starter Danny Betancourt, Yadier Pedroso, Vladimir Garcia, and Alexander Rodriguez -- held China to just three hits over seven innings. Betancourt was particularly impressive, striking out eight and walking one with one hit allowed in his 4 2/3 innings.  This puts Cuba at 2-0 and China at 0-2. With Japan also at 2-0 and Brazil also at 0-2, that means that Cuba and Japan qualify for round two and that Brazil and China are eliminated. Japan and Cuba will play the very last game of this first portion of pool play on Wednesday morning at 5:00 AM on Wednesday morning. It will have seeding implications, and by the time they take the field they'll know who the winner and runner up from Pool B are. Given that Cuba and Japan will be the favorites to advance no matter who qualifies from Pool B, this game is pretty meaningless. It won't be more meaninless than Japan and Brazil, though. They'll play the sandwich game tonight/tomorrow morning, battling for pride and maybe an automatic berth into the next WBC, assuming that they use the same dumb qualifying system in 2017 that they did in 2013.  South Korea 6, Australia 0 I woke up a little early this morning hoping to catch the end of this one, but by the time I got out of bed South Korea was already up 4-0 and shuffling pitchers to keep their bullpen fresh for their big showdown with Chinese Taipei at 6:30 tomorrow morning. In fact, I'm much more interested in tonight's Pool B action than I am in talking about this boring game, so let's just skip ahead.  Currenly, Chinese Taipei leads Group B with a 2-0 record, while South Korea and the Netherlands both sit at 1-1 and Australia lags behind at 0-2.  All four teams will be in action overnight tonight to wrap the pool up. Thanks to the vagaries of time zones and the international date line, Australia was playing baseball when you woke up this morning and they'll be playing baseball when you go to bed tonight; as they play the Netherlands at 11:30 PM ET tonight. At 5:30 AM ET tomorrow, Chinese Taipei and South Korea will face off.  There are two straightforward qualification scenarios here. If Netherlands and Chinese Taipei win, they both advance and that's that. If Netherlands loses to Australia and Korea beats Chinese Taipei, Korea and Chinese Taipei both advance. Those are the easy ones. There's one fairly plausible scenario, though, that will make things significantly more complicated: if Netherlands wins and South Korea wins, those two teams and Chinese Taipei will all be 2-1. That means that the two teams with the best run differential will advance. Currently, Chinese Taipei is +8, South Korea is +1, and Netherlands is even. Let's try to sort this out. If Netherlands beats Australia by at least eight runs, they advance no matter what because Chinese Taipei will, at the absolute best, be +7 after losing to South Korea. If South Korea beats Chinese Taipei by at least four runs, they will advance no matter what because their run differential will outstrip Chinese Taipei's no matter the result of the Netherlands/Australia game. That means that -- deep breath -- Chinese Taipei will advance with a win, with a loss to South Korea by four runs or less, or a loss to South Korea by four runs or more coupled with a Netherlands loss to Australia or a Netherlands victory over Australia that doesn't make up the run differential between the two sides. South Korea will advance with a win over Chinese Taipei by four runs or more or a win over Chinese Taipei by three runs or less, so long as Netherlands doesn't beat Australia by one run more than they (meaning South Korea) beat Chinese Taipei by. Netherlands advances by beating Australia by at least eight runs or by beating Australia by at least one more run than by which South Korea beats Chinese Taipei. This holds true even if Korea beats Chinese Taipei by four runs, because in that case a five-run win by Netherlands will give them a better differential by Chinese Taipei by one run. There is a caveat here: if Korea beats Chinese Taipei by nine runs or more,  all Netherlands has to do is win. Got it? It is also technically possible for Australia to advance if they beat Netherlands and Chinese Taipei beats South Korea because that would result in Netherlands, Korea, and Australia all sitting at 1-2. Unfortunately for  Australia, their run differential is currently -9, so either they'd have to crush Netherlands or they'd have to narrowly beat Netherlands while Chinese Taipei crushes South Korea. Neither of those results seems terribly likely. This will all be a lot easier to figure out after the Netherlands/Australia game, since we'll know Netherlands' final run differential at that point. That means that if you can stay up until 2:30 AM, you'll know for sure what the final score of the game that's starting at 6:30 AM has to be for all of the teams involved.  Well, that wasn't complicated at all. [follow]
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