The World Baseball Classic continues tonight with two games in Miami and San Diego. Venezuela reached the semi-finals yesterday as the first team. Two more teams will follow today.
World Baseball Classic Schedule, March 17:
Midnight 12am CET, WBC Pool 2: USA – Puerto Rico
(Dolphin Stadium, Miami, Florida, ESPN America, MLB Network, MLB.tv live)
Three days after Puerto Rico crushed Team USA 11-1 in seven innings in the round-two opener, both teams will meet again. The winner advances into the semi-finals, the loser goes home. The American roster of manager Davey Johnson is getting smaller the past few days. Chipper Jones (oblique strain), Ryan Braun (rib cage) and Matt Lindstrom (strained rotator cuff) will not be available. He also already needed to replace Dustin Pedroia with Brian Roberts last weekend. Johnson is changing the top of the batting order, putting Roberts into the leadoff spot, followed by Derek Jeter, who is expected to play at short, DH Jimmy Rollins, Kevin Youkilis and David Wright. Southpaw Ted Lilly of the Chicago Cubs is projected to start.
Puerto Rico lost for the first time on Monday (0-2 vs. Venezuela) and plays for the first time in the World Baseball Classic an elimination game. Left-hander Jonathan Sanchez of the San Francisco Giants takes the mound, hoping to silence the American bats as like as Javier Vazquez did last Saturday. He shut out the Netherlands in his lone start so far, but will face a different caliber on opposing batters this time.
Wednesday, 4am CET, WBC Pool 1: Korea – Japan
(PETCO Park, San Diego, California, ESPN America, MLB Network, MLB.tv live)
For the third time already in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Korea and Japan will face each other. The winner reaches the semi-finals, the loser draws a win-or-go-home game against Cuba on Wednesday. Japan beat up Korea 14-2 ten days ago during the preliminary round. The Olympic champion fought back and prevailed 1-0 in the seeding game of Pool A.
22-year-old right-hander Yu Darvish receives the starting nod for Team Nippon. He has pitched five innings in two games, still waiting to allow a run. Korea counters with Jung Keun Bong, who gave up just three hits in five-plus innings in the 1-0 shutout over Japan in the first round. With these two hurlers on the mound in the big ballpark in San Diego, we’ll hopefully see a real pitcher’s duel to determine the first semi-finalist of Pool one tonight.