Tonight at Dodger Stadium is the first of two semifinals of the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Undefeated Puerto Rico will take on The Netherlands for the chance to go to the World Baseball Classic finals on Wednesday (weather permitting). But tonight’s game should be free of rain, or at least free of any rain that would cause the game to be postponed.
Puerto Rico has been a juggernaut in this tournament, led by veterans such as Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and Astros outfielder Carlos Beltran. But the real focus of this team has been on the trio of outstanding young Puerto Rican shortstops: the Indians’ Francisco Lindor, the Astros’ Carlos Correa and, of course, the Cubs’ Javier Baez. Puerto Rico is 6-0 so far in this tournament, with wins over semifinalist the United States, defending champion the Dominican Republic and two wins over Venezuela.
In the 2013 WBC, Puerto Rico went all the way to the final game before falling to the Dominican Republic.
The Netherlands comes into this game as the underdog, having emerged from the Pacific pools with a 4-2 record. But they took two-time champion Japan to the 11th inning before falling and avenged their first-round loss to Israel by clobbering them in the second round to advance to Los Angeles for the semifinals for the second straight tournament. The Netherlands were also eliminated by the Dominican Republic four years ago in the semifinals.
The Netherlands has also built its team around a group of young infielders, including Red Sox Xander Bogaerts, the Angels’ Andrelton Simmons, the Orioles’ Jonathan Schoop and the Rangers’ Jurickson Profar, who is forced into the outfield on this team. They also have former Reds and Mariners outfielder Wladimir Balentien, who has become a home run champion in Japan’s NPB the past few seasons.
The Netherlands will unfortunately be without Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius, who has left the team with a shoulder injury. However, they do get Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen for this game, so that’s a big boost.
Jorge Lopez will start for Puerto Rico. Lopez is in the Brewers minor league system, although he did make two starts for Milwaukee in 2015. He will be opposed on the mound by the Dutch ace Rick van den Hurk, who has been pitching in Korea and Japan the past four years after a six-year major league career with the Marlins, Orioles and Pirates.
The game is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. Central time at Dodger Stadium and will be televised on the MLB Network. You should be able to watch the game on mlb.tv as well, if you have a Premium account.
Use this thread to discuss the game. Good luck to both teams!