The World Baseball Classic has provided some fantastic baseball so far. Samurai Japan, led, obviously, by Shohei Ohtani, looks unstoppable, though they haven’t faced the toughest competition yet. Pool A in Taiwan featured some of the most raucous crowds that the sport has ever seen, and finished with a chaotic 5-way tie. The Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico are engaged in an electric battle for Caribbean baseball supremacy in Miami, while the legendary Cuban National Team recovered from a shaky start to win its pool and advance to the semifinals, and will now play its first ever game in South Florida (so, yeah, that should be something).
And through it all, the Red Sox have been in the middle of all of it. Here’s a look at how our boys are doing.
Masataka Yoshida, Japan
5-12, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 2B, 8 RBI
Yoshida actually had a case as the Pool B MVP, given that his 8 RBI tied for the team lead. But get this: Japan has a player who hits and pitches! So they gave the award to that guy instead.
Here are the highlights from his big 5 RBI performance against Korea, Samurai Japan’s arch rival:
And here’s his only extra base hit of the tournament so far. He’s getting ready to pepper the monster.
Yu Chang, Taiwan
7-16, 2 HR, 2 2B, 2 BB, 2 K 8 RBI
Yu Chang’s Taiwanese team played some inspired baseball in pool play, but were eliminated by tie-breakers after all 5 teams finished 2-2 (Cuba went on to win the pool, and advanced to the semifinals after beating Australia this morning). That’s a damn shame, because Yu Chang had been one of the best players and best stories of the tournament so far.
His game-tying opposite field home run against Italy was absolutely electric:
And then he topped it with a grand slam against the Dutch the next night:
Rafael Devers, Dominican Republic
2-12, 2 BB, 2 K
Not gonna lie: Devers looks a little rusty. The Dominican team has only played 3 games so far, though, and has a massive match-up with Puerto Rico tonight, so he still has time to put his stamp on the tournament.
Kiké Hernandez, Puerto Rico
4-12, 1 2B, 2 BB, 2 K, 3 RBI
Kiké Hernandez, on the other hand, has been getting the job done for Puerto Rico. He even recorded one of the most unusual walk-off hits you’ll ever see in your life. It came in the 8th inning of a perfect game, as Puerto Rico downed Israel 10-0 to invoke the mercy rule.
Alex Verdugo, Mexico
1-12, 1 BB, 1 K
Verdugo has just a single hit so far, but it was a massive single that tied the game in the 7th inning against Colombia:
Jorge Alfaro, Colombia
3-12, 2 2B, 2 K
Speaking of Colombia, Alfaro has been very solid in the middle of the lineup for them so far. Here he is hammering a double off Julio Urias to break-up a no-hitter. Colombia went to upset Mexico in this game, and if they can do the same to the US tonight, they’ll likely send the favorites home.
Jorge Alfaro breaks up Julio Urias' no hitter in the 5th— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 11, 2023
: COL vs MEX on FOX & the FOX Sports App pic.twitter.com/byleYMflsS
Richard Bleier, Israel
1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K
Bleier came into the game in the 8th inning against Nicaragua and shut down the opposing lineup with ease to help Israel score a big upset. Even though neither team will advance, this was actually a massive game, as it ensured that Israel would not finish last in the pool, securing them automatic qualification for the next WBC.
Great eighth inning from Richard Bleier K'ing two in a quick 1,2,3. He keeps his team within one run.#Marlins || #WorldBaseballClassic pic.twitter.com/HFb6N8MHCp— Gabriel Garcia (@Gabewritesports) March 12, 2023
Jarren Duran, Mexico
0-4, 1 R, 2 K
Jarren isn’t getting much playing time for Mexico, but look at this! He’s the team’s designated celebration sombrero guy! We’re all happy for Jarren, aren't we?