World Baseball Classic 2017: USA vs. Puerto Rico start time, TV channel, live stream info, prediction – CBSSports.com
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 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 watch
Puerto 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. They’re 4-0. (Japan is 6-0.) They’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 Rico’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 USA’s pitching as well. They don’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. They’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.
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 didn’t have it’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, it’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 Tuesday’s win over the Dominican Republic.
Because both Puerto Rico and the USA won their first game of the second, the team that wins Friday’s game will be in excellent position to advance to the semifinals at Dodger Stadium. The loser of Friday’s game won’t be eliminated from the WBC. It would make their next game a must-win, however.
I have been wrong with just about every WBC prediction so far, but that’s not going to stop me from making another one. I’m feeling good about Puerto Rico because they’ll have Lugo on the mound and their offense seems to be clicking, at least moreso than USA’s. USA needed some some fat pitches from Hector Rondon, who hasn’t looked right since July, to mount Wednesday night’s comeback. I’m going to say Puerto Rico remains undefeated and wins a close 4-3 game.