Tonight in World Baseball Classic action, Team USA takes on Venezuela for the fourth and final spot in the semifinals. The game starts at 6pm Central time and will be broadcast on your local Fox affiliate. Lance Lynn is scheduled to pitch for Team USA and Martín Pérez is scheduled to go for Venezuela.
Venezuela made this quarterfinal by going 4-0 in Pool D, or what was termed “The Group of Death.” Venezuela marched through the group by beating the Dominican Republic, 5-1, Puerto Rico 9-6, Nicaragua 4-1 and Israel 5-1. Venezuela has never trailed by more than one run at any point in the tournament.
Anthony Santander is 6 for 13 with a double, a triple and two home runs in group play for Venezuela. Salvador Perez has gone 5 for 10 with three doubles and a home run.
Team USA reached this game by finishing second in Pool C with a 3-1 record. They beat Great Britain 6-2 before getting humiliated by Mexico 11-5 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score. But the USA bounced back with a 12-1 walloping of Canada and a 3-2 win over Colombia.
Mike Trout leads the Team USA offense, going 5 for 12 with a triple and a home run. Tim Anderson is 4 for 11 with a double and a triple.
While Team USA’s starting pitching (or normal starters coming in tandem starts) have looked shaky, their bullpen has been close to lights out in the tournament. Venezuela will not want to fall behind.
Last night, the world was treated with a thriller WBC quarterfinal a Mexico came from behind to beat Puerto Rico, 5-4. It is the first time ever that Mexico has qualified for the final four of the WBC.
Puerto Rico jumped off to an early 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning. After Alex Verdugo scored on a sacrifice fly by Emmanuel Rivera for the first run of the game, Javier Báez did some El Mago magic with the bat to make it 3-0.
That pitch was high and outside, but apparently not high and outside enough.
The next batter up, Eddie Rosario, went back-to-back to make it 4-0.
Meanwhile, starter Marcus Stroman looked strong for Puerto Rico over the first four innings. The current Cub did allow this home run to former Cubs prospect Isaac Paredes.
Stroman did get some help from this catch by Kiké Hernández.
Stroman seemed to tire in the bottom of the fifth inning. After getting the first out, Stroman allowed two singles and then walked a batter to load the bases. That brought up Alex Verdugo, whose bloop single scored Alek Thomas to make it 4-2.
That was all for Stroman, who left with the bases still loaded and just one out. But a great pitching job by reliever Yacksel Rios prevented any further damage in the fifth.
The game stayed 4-2 until the bottom of the seventh inning, thanks in part to the Cubs’ Javier Assad throwing 2.2 innings of scoreless relief. Assad allowed only one hit (to Francisco Lindor) and no runs. He struck out four and walked one.
Alexis Díaz, the brother of injured Puerto Rico closer Edwin Díaz, came on to pitch in the seventh and he loaded the bases with no outs after a double to Austin Barnes and walks to Randy Arozena and Verdugo. But Díaz quickly retired the next two batters on a foul out and a strikeout and it looked like Puerto Rico would escape with the lead intact. Then Paredes came to the plate again and he tied it up with a single to left.
Luis Urías was up next and he gave Mexico their first lead of the game.
Puerto Rico failed to score in the final two innings, thanks in part to this catch by Arozarena in the eighth.
Here’s the final out of the game and the celebration.
So back-to-back runners-up Puerto Rico failed to make the semifinals this year. Mexico has two days off now and will take on undefeated Samurai Japan on Monday in Miami. Japan will have three days off, but they also have to travel halfway across the globe and adjust to the new time zone.
That game will be at 6pm Central on FS1.