Because of the time zone issues that come with hosting an event in multiple hemispheres, the World Baseball Classic has, so far, had a spotty schedule. Groups A and B, in Taichung and Tokyo, respectively, each of their teams have played at least two matches, while Groups C and D, in Phoenix and Miami, have yet to start. One of the beauties of this tournament is that the games can be held all over the world but still be in the same category. But we haven’t had a full day of classic madness yet.
That changes on Saturday.
The Czech Republic and Japan opened Saturday’s play from the Tokyo Dome and the final will begin at 11 p.m. EST. If you want – and you must! – You can watch the World Baseball Classic all morning, all afternoon and all night.
Having a high-stakes baseball game in early March is very exciting. But each of these games has its own story, whether you’re a WBC fan, an MLB fan, or, more likely, both. Here’s one thing to watch in every game.
Final: Japan 10, Czech Republic 2
Japan were the best team in the tournament so far – and Saturday was no different. After upstart Czech Republic got on the board first, Team Japan hacked seven unanswered runs and out to the racing, advancing to the second round in the process. Red Sox freshman Masataka Yoshida went 2-for-2 with three RBIs, giving him a . 625 average over his first three games. Shohei Ohtani got into the action with an RBI double, and Shugo Maki pinch-hit for Ohtani late with a homer to seal the victory. The Czech Republic is down but not out, with a big game against Australia looming on Sunday at 11pm EST.
Final: Chinese Taipei 9, Netherlands 5
In front of her electric home audience, Chinese Taipei pulled off another surprise. In the second game in a row, Yu Chang rocked home with a home run – this time a grand slam – as Chinese Taipei held out to the Netherlands, the group favorites entering the tournament. Chinese Taipei is back in action against Cuba tonight at 11pm ET, while the Netherlands plays Italy on Sunday at 7am ET; Both games are on FS2. Both teams control their own destiny and can advance to the quarter-finals with a win.
Nicaragua versus Puerto Rico
N. ET, FS2
Colombia vs. Mexico
2:30 p.m. ET, Fox
You might think Mexico—currently ranked fifth in the WBSC rankings—would have a rich history in the Classic, but the country has never finished higher than sixth. If Mexicans are looking to get out of the pool, this is a huge game for them, with the US and Canada closing in. They’ve got the right pitcher on the mound—team captain Julio Urías, with some great cleats for the Mexico flag—and midday TV coverage, too. Colombia is only in their second edition of the Classics and is full of Orias and a very motivated Mexican team.
Dominican Republic vs Venezuela
7 p.m. ET, FS1
Great Britain vs. the United States
9 p.m. EST, Fox
A stacked USA lineup may have to bolster a shaky staff, especially over the rotation, but if you’re worried about missing a zip on Adam Wainwright’s fastball – which has been a serious concern so far in Spring Training – this can supply him with the right game. ; He will not face a weaker Great Britain squad all season. Great Britain hasn’t announced their starting pitcher yet, but they are facing glove Turner/Trout/Goldschmidt/Arenado/Tucker, the Brits may know him, but they’re keeping him hidden to protect him.
Czech Republic vs Korea
10 p.m. ET, FS1
This is the size of a great baseball game on Saturday: you can watch the Czech national team twice. Korea had the worst start imaginable yet, losing both matches despite a roster that looked capable of putting together a run deep in the Classic. For all the love the Czech national team has earned, this is a must-see for them. With a win over Japan perhaps a lot to hope for, earning the split on Saturday would be a huge victory.
Chinese Taipei vs Cuba
11 p.m. ET, FS2
Cuba bounced back from their rocky start to the Classic with a decisive win over Panama on Thursday, and while they still need a little help, a win over Chinese Taipei here could be enough to propel the Cubans into the next round; They will need the Netherlands to help them take on Italy on Sunday. This has been a Cuban side like no other, and there is a non-zero chance that this is the last time you will see Yoenis Céspedes in action. I can’t think of a better reason to watch there.
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