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2023 World Baseball Classic Day 8: Venezuela continues Pool of Death dominance

Day 8 at the WBC has set up a very fun final day of pool play.

World Baseball Classic Pool D: Nicaragua v Venezuela Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Pools A and B are officially complete, and day eight of the WBC provided more clarity as to who would join Japan, Australia, Cuba, and Italy in the elimination round of the tournament. Venezuela has punched their ticket with their win and the Dominican Republic’s win. That sets up a highly anticipated rivalry game tonight in Miami between the DR and Team Rubio. The USA is also in a simple position: win and you’re in.

Pool D: Venezuela (3-0) 4, Nicaragua (0-4) 1

Some seem to be surprised about Anthony Santander’s continued production in Venezuela’s first three games, but as observers of Yankees-Orioles games in the last three seasons, we are all well aware of Santander’s knack for home runs and driving in runs. This dude absolutely rakes, and he has continued to do so for his country in their first three games. He is in one of those streaks where he just can’t seem to get out, as he went two-for-two with two walks and now has a batting average sitting at .455 in the WBC.

This time, Santander only added to Venezuela’s offensive performance, rather than leading it. He supported his teammates Andrés Giménez and Eugenio Suárez, who both drove in runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. For a second there, it looked like Nicaragua might have a puncher’s chance to take down Pool D’s leader, but Giménez delivered with a lefty-lefty single to tie the game up and set the stage for the red-hot Suárez:

Eugenio has one of my favorite swings in all of baseball. His ability to maintain solid posture while reaching down to the outside corner is impressive, and it allowed him to send a line drive into center field. This blow silenced Nicaragua and any hopes they had of leaving Florida with a win.

Venezuela’s bullpen was lights-out all day. They delivered seven scoreless innings, determined to secure their spot at the top of the pool. They’ll face off against Israel today as they look to go 4-0 in pool play, though they’ve already clinched a spot in the quarterfinals. Nicaragua, meanwhile, is done for the 2023 WBC (in last place, they’ll have to go through qualifiers again), and reliever Jonathan Loáisiga is now on his way back to the Yankees.

Pool C: Canada (2-1) 5, Colombia (1-2) 0

Team Canada has impressed me so far. Their offense consists of quality MLBers and a group of up and coming prospects. They play good defense and are more than formidable to compete with any team in the tournament. In this game in particular, Edouard Julien impressed me the most. He had three hits and ran the bases like a mad man. I wasn’t familiar with his game before this, but now I’ll definitely be paying attention to him going forward. In addition to Julien, Otto Lopez had a fantastic game and Bo Naylor absolutely smacked the baseball around the yard. Lopez capped off the victory with a ninth-inning homer to provide plenty of insurance:

Pool D: Dominican Republic (2-1) 10, Israel (0-3) 0 - 7 innings

It’s been a rough couple days for Israel. After a mercy rule loss where they didn’t have a single baserunner, they only put together a single hit in another mercy rule loss against the DR in seven innings. After Manny Machado’s insane offensive display against Nicaragua, he continued flashing his sweet stroke with two hits, including a light tower home run:

Machado truly appears to be in MVP form. His team will need him tomorrow as they head into a win-or-go-home scenario against Puerto Rico. While I’m certainly pulling for Puerto Rico, I fear this Dominican lineup is simply clicking too well right now and with too much fire power. This 10-0 victory came with hits from almost every star. If we’re picking the better players, the DR has the edge. But this is baseball. We know anything can happen.

Pool C: Mexico 2 (2-1), Great Britain 1 (1-3)

Pool C has provided some exhilarating baseball all around. With upset victories on the first few days of their pool play, it’s all going to come down to who can secure victories on the final day. Thanks to Mexico’s win last night, they have put themselves in a position to take the top seed in the pool tonight against Great Britain. In their victory yesterday, Taijuan Walker was outstanding through four scoreless innings. Even though Manny Barreda gave up the typing run in the sixth, his team had his back and took the lead in the bottom of the seventh. The hero for Mexico was a man who was originally only going to be the bullpen catcher: Alexis Wilson. He had both team’s RBIs, including this liner down the left field line that got his team hyped:

Mexico is capable of making a deep run in this tournament. If they do end up securing their place in the elimination round today, their quarterfinal opponent must not underestimate them. We saw what they did to the USA in their first game. They are a force to be reckoned with.

The quarterfinals are already underway today in Tokyo, along with three games later on that will determine who moves on to the quarters on the USA’s side of the bracket. It’s going to be an intense day of must-win baseball.

Today at the WBC:

Australia vs. Cuba (Quarterfinals)
Time: 6:00 a.m. EST
Venue: Tokyo Dome, Japan

Venezuela vs. Israel
Time: 12:00 a.m. EST
Venue: loanDepot Park, Miami, Florida

Mexico vs. Canada
Time: 3:00 p.m. EST
Venue: Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona

Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST
Venue: loanDepot Park, Miami, Florida

USA vs. Colombia
Time: 10:00 p.m. EST
Venue: Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona