Puerto Rico won their way to San Francisco and the Championship round last night beating Team USA 4-3 to complete their run through the loser's bracket of Pool B but their second round battle is not quite finished. They meet the Dominican Republic team, who has yet to lose in this World Baseball Classic, with a chance to earn themselves some much needed rest. The two teams play today at 1:00 PM Eastern Time at Marlins Park in Miami to determine seeding for the first games of the Championship round, beginning tomorrow in San Francisco, MLB Network and ESPN Desportes are broadcasting the game live.
The winner of this game will play the Netherlands on Monday while the loser will play Japan tomorrow. For both teams, the extra day of rest is critical. Puerto Rico has faced elimination since losing to the US in the first game of this round on Tuesday. Since then, they played two close games with just one day of rest. This path to the championship round has been hard on their pitching staff. Orlando Roman will get the start for the Puerto Rican club today, after a late inning rally by the US pressed slated starter Fernando Cabrera into relief duties last night.
The Dominican team has gotten the easier schedule as the bracket's only undefeated club, but they could still benefit from the extra rest. Manager Tony Pena notes that he has used the same position players in almost every game and getting them a day off is very important as they head into the final rounds. He will send Wandy Rodriquez to the mound today to face Puerto Rico.
The pitching match up favors the Dominican team and with the Puerto Ricans using five relievers last night, the pressure is on Orlando Roman today. If he cannot give Puerto Rico a strong start, they will be hard pressed to hold off the powerful Dominican lineup. Dominican second baseman Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees leads the tournament in total bases with 23. Texas Ranger Nelson Cruz has also been hot for them, hitting .429/.455/.571 so far in WBC action. Puerto Rico has gotten some clutch hitting from Mike Aviles and center fielder Angel Pagan is having a great tournament, but their offense has lacked the impact bats that their opponent will bring to this game.
Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic: Saturday, 1 p.m. local, 1 p.m. ET
Venue: Marlins Stadium, Miami, Florida, USA
TV: MLB Network, ESPN Desportes en Español (U.S.)