03/22/09 1:52 AM ET
Semifinals last stop for Venezuela
Korea's early lead, five errors too much for country to overcome
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
He exited the contest 1 1/3 innings later.
The hot-hitting Koreans made quick work of Silva, tagging him for six hits en route to a 10-2 victory at Dodger Stadium. Korea advances, and it will take on the winner from Sunday's Japan-USA game on Monday at 9 p.m. ET in the Classic title game.
Venezuela's run for a title is over. The country finishes with a respectable 6-2 record in the tournament, and it will have to wait four years for its next chance at a Classic championship.
But even in defeat, the Venezuelans took a step forward. In the inaugural Classic in 2006, Venezuela did not advance out of the second round.
"We really wanted to give this win to Venezuela," manager Luis Sojo said. "Unfortunately, it did not happen, but we need to move forward and try to do things better for our future."
As for Silva, he gave up two home runs and was charged with seven runs, six of which were earned. He faced 13 hitters and threw 40 pitches before being replaced by Enrique Gonzalez in the second.
Silva's Seattle teammate Felix Hernandez, who was going to start on Monday if Venezuela advanced to the championship game, was available, but he did not pitch in the game Saturday. Hernandez was not an option against the Koreans, Sojo said.
"With all due respect, Carlos is a really good pitcher," Sojo said. "To take the ball away from him would be a lack of respect on my part. I put all my trust in him, and he deserved it."
For the Koreans, it didn't matter which pitcher was on the mound. In the top of the first inning, center fielder Yong-Kyu Lee walked on six pitches to lead off the game, marking the beginning of the end for Silva and his teammates.
Venezuela right fielder Bobby Abreu dropped a fly ball off the bat of the next hitter, second baseman Keun-Woo Jeong, and left fielder Hyun-Soo Kim followed with an RBI single to push Korea ahead, 1-0. Jeong scored on a ground ball for Korea's second run, and Shin-Soo Choo smashed a three-run home run deep over the wall in center field to extend the lead to 5-0.
"I think that [error] early in the first inning caused the rally," Abreu said. "They got a blooper after that and hit a homer after the blooper. It meant a lot for Carlos, because he was looking to get the first out and stay in the game."
Silva recovered to retire third baseman Jeong Choi, but he gave up another hit, this time to Kyung Oan Park. And just when it seemed like it couldn't get any worse for the Mariners starter, Silva made a fielding error on a dribbler toward the mound by shortstop Ki Hyuk Park.
Lee grounded out to end the inning, but the damage had been done. Korea had batted around, and Venezuela was in an early hole.
In the second, Silva forced Jeong into a groundout to shortstop Marco Scutaro for the first out of the frame. It would be the last time Silva would retire a batter.
The next hitter, Hyun-Soo Kim, hit a double to center field, and Tae Kyun Kim followed by driving a Silva pitch into the seats in left field to push Korea's lead to 7-0, knocking Silva out of the game.
"There were pitches that were there [for Silva]," Sojo said. "The Koreans were very aggressive at the plate. Things happen in baseball, and there is always a big slugger coming up. All of a sudden, it's 5-0 in the first inning."
In the third inning, Scutaro hit a one-out single and scored Venezuela's first run on a single by third baseman Melvin Mora to cut the deficit to six runs. But Korea answered with one run in the top of the fourth on an error by first baseman Miguel Cabrera and tacked on two more runs in the sixth inning for a 10-1 lead.
Carlos Guillen's solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning sent the Venezuelan fans in attendance into a frenzy, but the exhilaration was short-lived.
Venezuela could not escape the loss.
"[Venezuelan players] were tremendous professionals," Sojo said. "And I'm telling my players that you can't have any regrets. This is how baseball is. We went up against a team that was better than us, and we have to give them credit."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.