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Netherlands defeats Israel 12-2 in second round of World Baseball Classic

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Team Netherlands got so far ahead of Team Israel in Monday morning’s World Baseball Classic game that the “early termination” rule was invoked, ending the game in a 12-2 victory after eight innings. The rule ends the game after completion of an inning in which a team leads by 10 or more runs after the seventh inning.

Netherlands scored early and often. It took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a two-run single by Yurendell Decaster, then scored four more in the third on a two-run single from Wladimir Balentien, and RBI doubles by Didi Gregorius and Shawn Zarraga. In the fourth, Netherlands scored four more on another Balentien single and a three-run home run by Gregorius, pushing the score to 10-0.

Israel pushed a run across in the fourth inning on a Nate Freiman solo home run and again in the seventh inning on a Blake Gailen RBI single, reducing the deficit to eight runs.

However, in the eighth, Netherlands was able to invoke the “early termination” rule after scoring two more runs on a Gregorius sacrifice fly and a Zarraga RBI single. Israel was unable to score in the bottom half of the eighth, so the game ended.

Starter Jair Jurrjens pitched six outstanding innings for the Netherlands, giving up just the one run on five hits with no walks and five strikeouts while tossing 74 pitches. Juan Carlos Sulbaran, Jim Ploeger, and Orlando Yntema got two outs apiece to carry the team through the eighth.

Netherlands and Israel are now tied in Pool E with identical 1-1 records. Netherlands will face Team Cuba on Tuesday night while Israel will take on Team Japan on Wednesday morning.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.