SEOUL, South Korea -- With one more win by the Netherlands, Korea would be eliminated and could start thinking about the next World Baseball Classic.
Heading into the Classic, there were questions about Korea's pitching staff, but its offensive shortcomings may have sealed its fate. Korea needs to find some answers about its maligned offense, which mustered just six hits in a 5-0 loss in the Dutch's first game of the 2017 World Baseball Classic on Tuesday night at the Gocheok Sky Dome.
"I clearly felt the skill differences in both pitching and hitting," Korean manager In-Sik Kim said. "We had a hit once in a while, but I feel that we lacked in the ability to drive runs in. I think that is where we're lagging behind the Netherlands."
Korea finds itself in a hole and will need help if it wants to avoid back-to-back first-round exits in the Classic. A lot may ride on the Netherlands-Chinese Taipei game on Wednesday at 4:30 a.m. ET (6:30 p.m. local time), which you can watch -- as well as all World Baseball Classic games -- on MLB Network and MLB.TV.
Only one Korean player struck out against the Netherlands -- a whiff recorded by 7-foot-1 Loek wan Mil to the final batter of the game, Suk-min Park -- but three double plays proved to be its undoing.
"The Korean team is still tough," said Netherlands skipper Hensley Meulens. "They didn't get much hitting today, because our pitchers were on their game today."
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
Korea center fielder Yongkyu Lee reached base three times, but he was erased twice on DPs by the Netherlands' slick-fielding middle infield of second baseman Jonathan Schoop and two-time Gold Glover Andrelton Simmons in the third and eighth innings. Over the first two games, Korea is 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position, leaving 15 men on base and registering just one run over 19 innings.
"Their starting pitcher, middle relievers and closer executed it effectively and we could not score," Kim said. "Our pitchers allowed hits in crucial moments and Netherlands' pitchers kept inducing double plays, etc. Those things kept happening and we just couldn't score. We are overmatched in skills."
Netherlands starter Rick van den Hurk benefited from his defense and homers by Jurickson Profar in the first and Randolph Oduber in the sixth to pick up the victory.
"Everything went well, pitched extremely well," said Meulens. "Our hitting was good enough to score five runs. Got to admire the defenders, the double plays that they turned. If we can play like this the rest of the way, we'll be fine."
While the Dutch seem to be on point, what can Korea do to reverse its woes?
"The levels of pitchers, defense, etc., I realized that it was a significant gap," Kim said of the talent gap between Korea and the Netherlands. "I hope our players felt it as well and learn from it and do well in the future."
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, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, 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.