If big-game chutzpah has any kind of shelf life, Jason Marquis' hasn't expired yet.Team Israel's 38-year-old ace proved clutch once again, allowing just one run on four hits and a walk over 5 2/3 innings against Team Cuba in Saturday night's 4-1 win at the Tokyo Dome. Working down in
If big-game chutzpah has any kind of shelf life, Jason Marquis' hasn't expired yet.
Team Israel's 38-year-old ace proved clutch once again, allowing just one run on four hits and a walk over 5 2/3 innings against Team Cuba in Saturday night's 4-1 win at the Tokyo Dome. Working down in the zone, Marquis pitched to contact and induced seven ground-ball outs from Cuba.
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
"We tried to execute the game plan as good as we can," Marquis said. "A guy like me uses my defense a lot, and [my teammates] did a great job for me today making the plays and keeping guys off base."
Pitching on three days' rest, Marquis struck out four in Israel's opening game of Pool E, continuing a run of dominance that stretches back to the qualifying round of this tournament. The right-hander was Israel's starting pitcher for the opening game of that qualifier against Great Britain last fall in Brooklyn, when he tossed three innings of one-run ball in what was his first competitive start since being released by the Reds in June 2015.
Including Saturday, Marquis has now started three of Israel's four games in the Classic, allowing just one run over 9 2/3 innings of work. With that kind of pitching from its ace, it becomes easier to understand why Israel has won seven straight contests dating back to the qualifiers.
"We're not surprised by anything," Marquis said of Israel's unblemished start, "but I think it's a great story for people back home who follow the game, and who are in our shoes and being of Jewish heritage to look up to players like us, who may not have otherwise had that opportunity."
Marquis worked a clean first inning Saturday before yielding a home run to Cuban slugger Alfredo Despaigne to begin the second. More trouble seemed to be ahead when Cuba was able to put two more runners aboard, but Marquis responded with a strikeout and two ground-ball outs to escape further damage.
Facing a righty-dominant Cuban lineup, Israel manager Jerry Weinstein rode the hot hand as Marquis bridged the gap to relievers Zack Thornton, Brad Goldberg and Josh Zeid.
"The plan going in was going to be primarily right-handed and it was all based on Marquis giving us some length," Weinstein said. "He did that, and that was huge for us."
Marquis left the mound with 69 pitches on his ledger, meaning he will not be able to pitch for Israel again in Tokyo. It was a different approach for Weinstein than in Marquis' first two starts, when the manager pulled his ace before the 50-pitch mark so that he could come back on short rest.
"We felt like winning this game was extremely important," said Weinstein, "and if Jason was rolling, we would just roll with him and hopefully get another chance to use him in the next [round]."
Should Israel -- the Cinderella of the '17 Classic thus far -- find a way forward to the semifinals at Dodger Stadium, there's little question as to who will take the ball.
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 Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, 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.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.