Team Mexico narrowly missed out on forcing a tiebreaker game to earn the right to advance to the next round of the World Baseball Classic. Despite defeating Team Venezuela on Sunday night 11-9, it has been eliminated. That was determined by average runs allowed per defensive inning. Mexico (1.12) trailed Venezuela (1.11). As a result, Venezuela and Italy will play a tiebreaker on Monday.
Mexico jumped out to a 5-0 lead against Venezuela in the second inning on an RBI double by Japhet Amador, a sacrifice fly by Luis Alfonso Cruz, and a three-run home run by Esteban Quiroz. Venezuela struck for a run in the bottom of the third on a Martin Prado single, but Brandon Laird extended Mexico’s lead to 8-1 in the fifth with a three-run homer of his own.
From there, it was a back-and-forth affair. Venezuela rallied for three runs in the bottom half of the fifth on an Ender Inciarte double, a Prado double, and a Miguel Cabrera single, reducing Venezuela’s deficit to 8-4. Adrian Gonzalez lifted a sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth to make it 9-4, but Venzuela struck for two in the bottom half thanks to RBI singles from Robinson Chirinos and Jose Altuve. Mexico’s Chris Roberson hit an RBI single to push it to 11-6, and Venezuela responded with three more runs in the bottom half of the seventh on a Victor Martinez two-run home run and a forced-in run when Chirinos was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Pitchers Oliver Perez and Roberto Osuna were able to get four and two outs, respectively, to hold Venezuela at bay and end the game in an 11-9 victory for Mexico.
Mexico’s first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez, isn’t happy with the results.
As mentioned, Italy and Venezuela will match up on Monday in a tiebreaker game. The winner will join Puerto Rico from Pool D and advance to the next round, Pool F, where their other opponents include the Dominican Republic and the United States. The winner of Monday’s tiebreaker will play the U.S. on Wednesday at Petco Park in San Diego.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.