World Baseball Classic Schedule for March 16:
Tuesday, 1am CET, WBC Pool 2: Puerto Rico – Venezuela
(Dolphin Stadium, Miami, Florida, ESPN America, ESPN, MLB.tv live)
Puerto Rico and Venezuela will meet at the Dolphin Stadium in Miami on Monday evening to determine the first semi-finalist from Pool 2 of the World Baseball Classic. Puerto Rico crushed Team USA on Saturday and is the only remaining undefeated team in the competition. Ian Snell is going to start. The right-hander of the Pittsburgh Pirates would be allowed to throw 85 pitches in this round-two matchup. However manager Jose Oquendo lowered this mark to 75 for his hurlers, trying to protect them so early in the year. He still hopes Snell can go five innings.
Venezuela was the most dominant team on offense during the first round with nearly half of their hits going for extra bases. Nonetheless in their first second round match against the Netherlands they needed just three hits to score three runs en route to a 3-1 victory. All three were towering flyballs, Endy Chavez led off with a triple, Miguel Cabrera and Jose Lopez closed it out with solo homeruns. Felix Hernandez is expected to start and he hopes to be as effective as his Seattle Mariners teammate Carlos Silva on Saturday, who went seven innings against the Dutch team. The loser of this game will face Team USA on Tuesday.
Tuesday, 4am CET, WBC Pool 1: Cuba – Mexico
(PETCO Park, San Diego, California, ESPN America, ESPN2, MLB.tv live)
Before the start of yesterday’s game against Japan, Cuba was one of just two undefeated teams in the tournament. Thanks to the double elimination format, now they are on the verge of being eliminated. Despite their probably strongest showing in defense, shaky pitching and a nearly non-existent offense they lost to the defending champion. Another defeat and one of the biggest tournament favorites would be ousted. This would be the biggest upset in the World Baseball Classic so far from an international standpoint, even bigger than the two stunning victories by the Netherlands over the Dominican Republic. Cuba has won 33 of 40 tournaments since 1952 and never finished lower than third since 1939. If Mexico can pull off the upset Cuba would finish in seventh place.
However their chances are pretty slim. During the first round they destroyed Mexican pitching with a 16-4 pounding. But this was ‘only’ the seeding game. Now it is win or go home. Both teams relied on the homerun during the first phase at the Foro Sol Stadium, but now should have discovered that the ball doesn’t travel well at sea level in spacious PETCO Park. As Aroldis Chapman pitched on Sunday, Norge Vera should take the mound tonight and he is certainly experienced enough to handle the situation. Jorge Campillo of the Atlanta Braves should receive the starting nod for Mexico, as their number two starter of round one, Elmer Dessens pitched in relief of Oliver Perez on Sunday. Cuba is heavily favored, but a loss wouldn’t be the first stunner in this exciting World Baseball Classic.