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Must-Win Wednesday started early for Israel

March 15, 2017

If Israel wants to continue its run in the World Baseball Classic, the task is clear: Beat Japan.First pitch for the Pool E matchup is at 6 a.m. ET (7 p.m. local time), and the game will be broadcast live on MLB Network and MLB.TV. :: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::If

If Israel wants to continue its run in the World Baseball Classic, the task is clear: Beat Japan.
First pitch for the Pool E matchup is at 6 a.m. ET (7 p.m. local time), and the game will be broadcast live on MLB Network and MLB.TV. 
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
If Japan wins, it will advance to the semifinals in Los Angeles along with the Netherlands, which defeated Cuba, 14-1, earlier Wednesday to finish with a 2-1 record in Pool E. Japan enters this game with a 2-0 mark in the pool, and Israel is 1-1. Cuba finished 0-3 and was eliminated from the tournament.
If Israel wins, it would force a tiebreaker game in Pool E with Japan, the Netherlands and Israel all at 2-1. Tiebreaker rules would be applied to rank the three and the first-ranked team would advance, while the second- and third-ranked teams would play a tiebreaker game on Thursday (6 a.m. ET, 7 p.m. in Tokyo). 
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. If a first-ranked team still can't be determined, the tied teams shall be ranked in the standings according to fewest earned runs allowed divided by the number of innings (including partial innings). The third step would break the tie by ranking the highest batting average in games in that round between the teams tied. And that all fails, standings shall be determined by the drawing of lots, conducted by WBCI.
Japan turns to right-hander Kodai Senga looking stay undefeated in WBC '17. Senga picked up the win against Australia in the first round of the Classic, allowing just one hit over two innings while striking out four. The 24-year-old hurler also threw two scoreless innings in a victory over the Netherlands on Sunday.
Israel is hoping to rebound from its first loss of the Classic, a 12-2 defeat to the Netherlands on Monday. Josh Zeid will get the start and attempt to cool Japan's bats. The right-hander has been used as a reliever in the Classic thus far and is 1-0 with two saves in six scoreless innings.
Things to know about this game
• The MVPs of Pool A and Pool B, Israel's Ryan Lavarnway and Japan's Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh, will be leaned on as they attempt to carry their respective clubs into the semifinals. Tsutsugoh, who hit 44 home runs in 2016 for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, has delivered two long balls for Japan in WBC '17. Lavarnway is 7-for-15 (.467) with a homer for Israel.

• Zeid is making his first career Classic start. The 29-year-old went 0-1 with a 5.21 ERA in 48 games in 2013-14 for the Astros and has never started a game in the Major Leagues. He did start 15 games in '16 while pitching in the Mets' organization, going 7-6 with a 4.61 ERA with Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas.
• Sanga is a newcomer to Japan's Classic rotation, but made 25 starts for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Japan Pacific League last year. The 2016 season was Sanga's first in a full-time starting role. He responded nicely, going 12-3 with a 2.61 ERA in 169 innings.
The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Tokyo Dome and Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com.