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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.

Brian Dozier, Todd Frazier, and Didi Gregorius say teams should expand protective netting

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Earlier, a young fan was struck by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium and had to be carried out before being taken to a hospital. Fortunately, it seems that the fan is okay.

As usual, when a scary incident such as today’s occurs, players come out in full support of expanding the protective netting at ballparks. Twins second baseman Brian Dozier as well as Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier and shortstop Didi Gregorius all said as much after Wednesday afternoon’s game.

Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis has also been a very vocal proponent of increased netting. For the most part, the players are pretty much all in agreement about the subject. It’s only a vocal minority of fans who seem to think that their ability to snag a random souvenir or have an unimpeded view supersedes the safety of their neighbors.

Video: Giancarlo Stanton hits a laser for his 56th home run

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Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton continued his march towards 60 home runs, hitting No. 56 in Wednesday afternoon’s win against the Mets. The Marlins, leading 7-2 prior to Stanton’s two-run blast in the bottom of the eighth, didn’t need the extra run support but welcomed it all the same. Mets reliever Erik Goeddel tossed a 1-1, 78 MPH curve that caught too much of the plate.

After Wednesday’s action, Stanton is batting .279/.378/.634 with 120 RBI and 116 runs scored along with the 56 dingers in 646 plate appearances. The last player to hit at least 56 home runs in a season was Ryan Howard (58) in 2006. Stanton’s is the 19th player-season of at least 56 homers.