After suffering a lethargic 2-1 loss to Israel to start the World Baseball Classic (WBC) Monday, South Korea is faced with a distinct number-crunching reality just to survive the first round.
South Korea will next face the Netherlands later Tuesday and Chinese Taipei on Thursday in Pool A play at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. Only the top two nations will get to play the second round in Tokyo.
South Korea clearly didn't help itself with the 10-inning loss to Israel on Monday. The meager offensive production was eerily reminiscent of South Korea's 5-0 loss to the Netherlands to start the 2013 WBC, when it eked out just four singles.
Back then, South Korea scrambled to beat Australia and Chinese Taipei but was eliminated on tiebreakers.
Turn the clock forward four years. South Korea will once again have to win the next two games just to have a shot at reaching the next stage, and tiebreakers could once again come into play.
The Netherlands appears to be the favorite to take Pool A, as the team is loaded with major league talent, including Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts and Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
If South Korea beats the Netherlands later Tuesday -- which should be considered an upset at this juncture -- and also Chinese Taipei, it will be in a position to at least get into the tiebreaker game Friday.
Should South Korea lose to the Netherlands later Tuesday, then it will have to beat Chinese Taipei and hope for the best.
One possible scenario will have the Netherlands go 3-0 and three other countries tied at 1-2.
If three teams are tied at 1-2, the tiebreaker rules will rank the three, and then the first two teams will play a tiebreaker game, with the winner advancing to the next stage.
The tiebreakers are in this order: fewest runs allowed divided by the number of defensive innings between the tied teams; fewest earned runs allowed divided by the number of defensive innings between the tied teams; highest batting average in games between the tied teams; and finally, the drawing of lots by the WBC, Inc. (WBCI).
In case there are three nations tied at 2-1, the tiebreaker rules will rank the three, and the first team will advance. The No. 2 and No. 3 seeds will square off in a tiebreaker game.
If the first two-ranked teams in a pool are tied in winning percentage, then their head-to-head result in that round will determine the pool winner. (Yonhap)