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The World Baseball Classic gets underway with an upset

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The World Baseball Classic began in the wee hours this morning as Team Israel took on Team South Korea. On paper that’s a mismatch — Korea is one of the better teams in the tournament and certainly has produced a good number of major leaguers while Israel is one of the lowest-ranked squads — but they don’t play the game on paper. Israel beat South Korea in an upset, 2-1 in extra innings.

Israel doesn’t have a lot of baseball players. Indeed, there is only one native-born Israeli on the roster. But like a lot of teams in the WBC, they welcome players with a shared heritage, so there are some recognizable names on the team. One of them, Jason Marquis, got the start and pitched three scoreless innings. Israel’s only run in the first nine innings came on a bases loaded walk in the second off of Won Jung Chang. Beyond that, however, Team Israel had some trouble scoring, thanks in part to the fact that South Korea has Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh on the staff. He shut them out for two innings later in the game. Korea only scored once in regulation as well, via an RBI single from Geonchang Seo. The game would go to the 10th.

In the top of the frame Israel put two on via a walk and a single. Then Scott Burcham hit a ground ball to second which Seo couldn’t get a handle on, allowing Mike Myers — who was running for Ike Davis — to score.  Josh Zeid, who pitched three innings, got the win by shutting down South Korea in the bottom half.

This doesn’t end things for anyone, as it’s not a single-elimination tournament in the first round. Tomorrow Israel will go on to face Chinese Taipei and South Korea will face the Netherlands.

Video: Jaime Garcia hits a 399-foot grand slam

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Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.

The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.

Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.

As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:

Ryon Healy exits game after taking a ground ball to the face

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Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.

Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.

Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.