Last night’s wasn’t the start Joe Torre and the boys were hoping for in this year’s World Baseball Classic. After falling to Mexico 5-2 in their opening game of pool play, Team USA finds itself in an uphill, must-win climb just to advance to the second round of the international tournament.
U.S. ace R.A. Dickey was anything but ace-like for the Americans. Mexico shelled the knuckle baller to the tune of 4 runs and 6 hits, including a towering 2-run home run off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez.
In stark contrast was Yovani Gallardo, who had a dazzling performance on the mound for team Mexico. Facing a Milwaukee Brewer-set pitch count limit of 50, Gallardo stifled a team USA offense considered by many to be the strongest in all the World Baseball Classic. His final line: 3.1 innings pitched, 2 hits, 1 run and 4 strikeouts. The bullpen picked him up as well, and aided by bad plate discipline held the U.S. to just one additional run and a 2-for-13 day with runners in scoring position. Sergio Romo got the save for Mexico less than 24 hours after blowing a save that led to the Mexican loss to team Italy.
The loss makes the United States’ quest for WBC redemption all the more perilous, especially with Team Italy off to a shocking 2-0 start in Pool D with wins over Mexico on Thursday and a Canada on Friday (by mercy rule). Entering Saturday, the Pool D standings looked likei this:
Only the top two teams in the pool will advance to the second round, to be played in Miami, Florida. The U.S. plays unbeaten Italy tonight at 9 p.m. But before they take the field, the Americans will be cheerleading for Team Canada, who squares off against Mexico at 2:30 p.m. A Mexican loss would make the United States’ situation a little less dire. Here are the possible scenarios for Team USA.
If Canada beats Mexico and USA loses to Italy
- Italy (3-0) would advance
- USA could only advance with a win over Canada
- With a win over Canada, there would be a three way tie between USA, Mexico and Canada (1-2) and tiebreakers would determine which two teams advance
If Canada Beats Mexico and USA beats Italy
- Italy would advance (2-1)
- USA could only advance with win over Canada
- USA would win Pool D with win over Canada (2-1)
If Mexico beats Canada and the USA loses to Italy
- USA would be eliminated
- Italy (3-0) would advance
- Mexico (2-1) would advance
If Mexico beats Canada and the USA beats Italy and Canada
- There would be a three way tie between the USA, Mexico and Italy (2-1) and tiebreaker rules would apply to determine which two teams advance
The tiebreaker rules for the Round 1 of the World Baseball Classic break down as follows:
If only two teams are tied with a 2-1 record, the pool winner and pull runner-up are determined based on the head-to-head matchup between the teams.
A tiebreaker between three teams with either a 2-1 record or a 1-2 is determined by the team with the highest “Team Quality Balance” or TQB. TQB is a run differential formulaic calculation that looks only at the games played between the three tied teams. It is calculated by taking the total number of runs scored by a team in those games, dividing it by the number of offensive innings played, and then subtracting the number of runs allowed divided by the number defensive innings played.
If two teams remain tied after TQB is calculated, then the winner of the head-to-head match between those teams is ranked higher (this would happen if both teams that were advancing had the same TQB and would determine the winner and runner up of the Pool).
If three teams remain tied after TQB is calculated, the tie is broken by Earned Runs TQB. The formula is the same as that for TQB, except it only looks at earned runs scored and earned runs allowed.
If three teams remain tied after Earned Runs TQB, then the tie is broken by the following hierarchy: head-to-head results,batting average, and then if all else fails, a coin flip.
In a sense, the U.S. still controls its own destiny. If they win out, the tiebreak scenarios only come into play in the event that Mexico beats Canada. If Canada beats Mexico and Team USA wins out, the U.S. advances, and the U.S. can even advance with a loss to Italy if the tiebreaker situation works in its favor.