The second round of the 2017 World Baseball Classic is underway and wow, we've already seen some exciting games in Pool F. Puerto Rico upset the heavily-favored Dominican Republic on Tuesday night, then USA rallied for a come-from-behind win over ...
The second round of the 2017 World Baseball Classic is underway and wow, weâ€™ve already seen some exciting games in Pool F. Puerto Rico upset the heavily-favored Dominican Republic on Tuesday night, then USA rallied for a come-from-behind win over Venezuela on Wednesday night. How can you not love compelling baseball in March? Pool F play will continue Friday night at Petco Park in San Diego. Here are the important details. How to watchTeams:Â USA vs. Puerto RicoDate:Â Friday, March 17, 2017Time:Â 10 p.m. ETTelevision: MLB NetworkStreaming: MLB.tv PreviewPuerto Rico, which lost to the Dominican Republic in the 2013 WBC Championship Game, is one of only two unbeaten teams still alive in the World Baseball Classic. Theyâ€™re 4-0. (Japan is 6-0.) Theyâ€™ve outscored their opponents 32-8 in their four games as well, though it should be noted Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, the ballpark for Pool D, is at altitude and very hitter friendly, so Puerto Ricoâ€™s offensive numbers are a tad inflated. On the other side of the coin, their pitching has been marvelous despite that tough environment. The same is true for USAâ€™s pitching as well. They donâ€™t have any of their big names (Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Jake Arrieta, etc.), but their starting rotation has allowed just one unearned run in 17 1/3 innings so far. Theyâ€™ve struck out 22 and walked zero. On the mound for USA on Friday will be Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman, who held the high-powered Dominican Republic lineup scoreless in 4 2/3 innings in round one. Marcus Stroman will make his second WBC start Friday.
Puerto Rico will counter with Mets righty Seth Lugo. He limited Venezuela, another team with an All-Star laden lineup, to one dinky little hit in 5 1/3 shutout innings in his first-round start. Because that game was played at altitude, Lugo did not throw his trademark curveball much against Venezuela. The pitch didnâ€™t have itâ€™s usual break, so he leaned on his slider and changeup instead. Lugo will have his biggest weapon back against USA. While USA manager Jim Leyland has shuffled players in and out of the lineup so far in the WBC -- who could blame him given his roster? -- Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez has stuck with the same lineup, and hey, itâ€™s working. Budding young stars like Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, and Javier Baez perfectly compliment veterans like Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran. Lindor was named MVP of Pool D and Molina was a two-way force in Tuesdayâ€™s win over the Dominican Republic. Because both Puerto Rico and the USA won their first game of the second, the team that wins Fridayâ€™s game will be in excellent position to advance to the semifinals at Dodger Stadium. The loser of Fridayâ€™s game wonâ€™t be eliminated from the WBC. It would make their next game a must-win, however.
PredictionI have been wrong with just about every WBC prediction so far, but thatâ€™s not going to stop me from making another one. Iâ€™m feeling good about Puerto Rico because theyâ€™ll have Lugo on the mound and their offense seems to be clicking, at least moreso than USAâ€™s. USA needed some some fat pitches from Hector Rondon, who hasnâ€™t looked right since July, to mount Wednesday nightâ€™s comeback. Iâ€™m going to say Puerto Rico remains undefeated and wins a close 4-3 game. Here is the full 2017 WBC schedule as well as the full rosters. The championship game will be played March 22 at Dodger Stadium. Â Â
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