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Israel defeats Chinese Taipei 15-7 in World Baseball Classic

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The World Baseball Classic continued on Monday night as Team Israel “visited” Team Chinese Taipei at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea. Team Israel had just come off of a 10-inning, 2-1 victory over Korea early Monday morning, but wasted no time jumping out to a convincing lead against Chinese Taipei.

In the first inning, Sam Fuld led off with a single and promptly moved to third when Ty Kelly doubled. Ike Davis singled to right field to bring both home for a 2-0 lead. The barrage kept coming as Nate Freiman singled to put runners on first and second. Chinese Taipei starter Chun-Lin Kuo managed to strike out Zach Borenstein, but Ryan Lavarnway singled to load the bases. Kuo then struck out Blake Gailen, but Tyler Kreiger kept the rally going with a single to center, scoring two more runs to make it 4-0. Team Israel tacked on two more runs in the third inning when Lavarnway smoked a two-run home run to center field off of Kuan-Yu Chen.

Team Israel Starter Corey Baker went 4 2/3 scoreless innings, limiting Taipei to three hits with no walks and three strikeouts on 59 pitches. R.C. Orlan relieved Baker and got the final two outs of the fifth. Taipei finally got on the board in the sixth. With one out, Chin-Lung Hu reached on a single, Chih-Hao Chang reached on a missed catch error on a force attempt at second, and Chih-Hsien Chiang drew a walk to load the bases. Tyler Herron came in for Orlan, but immediately gave up a two-run double to left field to Chih-Sheng Lin. Yi-Chuan Lin lifted a sacrifice fly to center, making it a 6-3 game. Herron struck out Kuo-Hui Kao to end the inning at long last.

Davis led off the top of the seventh with a triple that was very nearly a solo home run to center field. He came around to score on a Freiman single to left to push the lead to 7-3. Fu-Te Ni relieved Ming-Chin Tsai, but Israel kept their foot on the gas pedal. After Zach Borenstein lined out, Lavarnway was hit by a pitch. Cody Decker, pinch-hitting for Gailen, singled to left to load the bases. Kreiger then laced a single to center, pushing Israel’s lead to 8-3 and keeping the bases loaded. Chen-Hua Lin came in for Ni and thought he’d have at least one out when Scott Burcham dropped down a bunt. Lin fielded the bunt down the first base line and threw to… no one covering the first base bag. The throw went into right field and three more runs crossed the plate to make it 11-3. In the eighth, Israel tacked on one more run. Borenstein doubled and Nick Rickles singled to plate Borenstein. The game went from rout to laugher in the top of the ninth. After Israel drew two two-out walks, Nate Freiman lined a three-run homer to left field, turning it into a 15-3 lead.

Chinese Taipei threatened in the bottom of the ninth, putting their first two runners on base with a walk and a single. After pitcher Troy Neiman got Hu to ground out, Chang ripped a two-run double to left field. Dean Kremer relieved Neiman and served up a double of his own to Chiang, plating Chang. Chi-Hsiang Lin singled to put runners on first and third with one out. Yi-Chuan Lin grounded a single to right to bring in another run, cutting the lead to 15-7. Kuo-Hui Kao fouled out down the right field line for the second out. Finally, the game ended when Chi-Hung Hsu whiffed on strike three from Kremer.

Israel has jumped out to a convincing 2-0 lead in Pool A. They will take on Team Netherlands on Wednesday evening in an attempt to go undefeated through Pool A. If they make it through, they’ll enter Pool E which will be held in Tokyo.

The World Baseball Classic continues on Tuesday. In the early morning, Team Korea takes on Team Netherlands. Shortly after that game gets underway, Pool B play begins with Team Cuba and Team Japan square off. At night, Team China will host Team Cuba.

2017 Preview: The National League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics