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World Baseball Classic: Mexico eliminated after confusing tiebreaker mishap

World Baseball Classic - Pool D - Game 6 - Mexico v Venezuela Photo by Miguel Tovar/Getty Images

Checking in on the World Baseball Classic, where three Dodgers thought late Sunday night that they would play again on Monday, only to find out later that wasn’t the case.

Mexico beat Venezuela 11-9 on Sunday night, improving to 1-2 in Pool D, and after Alex Verdugo caught the final out in right field he raised his arms in triumph, thinking —along with his teammates and the fans in the stands in Jalisco — that Mexico had advanced to a tiebreaker game against Italy (1-2) on Monday for a berth in the second round.

But after the game, WBC officials confirmed that Venezuela (1-2), not Mexico, would in fact play in the tiebreaker against Italy. Oops.

At issue are the tiebreaking rules, and the definition of the word “partial.” The relevant passage:

»» Three Teams Tied 1-2: If there are three teams tied 1-2, then the tiebreaker rules would be applied to rank the three, and the first two ranked teams would play a tiebreaker game, the winner of which would advance. The tiebreaker rules will be applied as follows:

Step 1: The tied Teams shall be ranked in the standings for that Round according to fewest runs allowed divided by the number of innings (including partial innings) played in defense in the games in that Round between the Teams tied.

(Emphasis mine.)

Italy beat Mexico 10-9 in nine innings on Thursday. Venezuela beat Italy 11-10 in 10 innings on Saturday, and Mexico beat Venezuela 11-9 in nine innings on Sunday.

These are the runs allowed by those teams in games among themselves:

Italy: 20 runs allowed in 19 innings (1.053 runs per inning)
Venezuela: 21 runs allowed in 19 innings (1.105 per inning)
Mexico: 19 runs allowed in 17 innings (1.118 per inning)

That is how Italy and Venezuela ended up in the tiebreaker. There was a lot of confusion about the number of defensive innings played by Mexico, who lost to Italy in nine innings, but because the Italians scored five runs and Mexico didn’t record a single out in the frame, technically Mexico only had eight defensive innings in that game, and 17 in total among the three teams.

During the broadcast, MLB Network assumed 18 defensive innings for Mexico as well, which would have meant 1.056 runs per inning and a berth in the tiebreaker game, with Venezuela eliminated.

It gets worse. A WBC official reportedly told Mexico that if they beat Venezuela by two runs, they would play in the tiebreaker.


Mexico filed a protest, but it’s hard to see this ending in anything but elimination for them.

That means the Dodgers will get Adrian Gonzalez, Sergio Romo and Verdugo back in camp this week. Manager Dave Roberts said it might be a few days, and that he would talk to Gonzalez later on Monday.

But Rob Segedin is still alive with Italy, who would advance to the second round with a win on Monday over Venezuela.

Kiké Hernandez is in the second round with Puerto Rico, and Ike Davis is also still playing with Israel. Davis was 2-for-3 with a double in a 12-2 loss to Netherlands early Monday morning, the first loss for Israel in the tournament.

Here’s a look at how the Dodgers are doing at the WBC, and the remaining schedule for those still playing:

  • Davis: 7-for-13 (.538), two doubles, triple, four walks, two RBI, four runs, .647 OBP
    Note: Davis was 2-for-2 with a walk in his only Cactus League game. Hitting .600/.700/.846 in 20 PA this spring
  • Hernandez: 3-for-4 (.750), triple, two RBI, run
  • Segedin: 2-for-11 (.182), home run, double, walk, two RBI, three runs
  • Verdugo: 5-for-14 (.357), three runs
  • Gonzalez: 1-for-12 (.083), sacrifice fly, run, RBI
  • Romo: 1⅓ innings, four runs, three hits, walk, strikeout

In addition, old friend Eric Gagne allowed a hit and a walk in 2⅓ scoreless innings, striking out two. He did allow one inherited runner to score.


Pool D tiebreaker: Italy vs. Venezuela, 6 p.m. PT

Pool F: Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic, 6 p.m.

Pool E: Israel vs. Japan, 6 a.m.
Pool F: Italy/Venezuela vs. United States, 6 p.m.

Pool F: Italy/Venezuela vs. Dominican Republic, 7 p.m.

Pool F: Puerto Rico vs. United States, 7 p.m.

Pool F: Puerto Rico vs. Italy/Venezuela, 12:30 p.m.