The US will face Puerto Rico for the second time Friday in an elimination match-up to determine the final team to advance to the Championship Round. Gio Gonzalez and the US pitching staff shut down the Puerto Rican offense the first time around -- leading to a 7-1 victory -- and right-hander Ryan Vogelsong will look to do the same Friday evening.
With third baseman David Wright on the sidelines Thursday, Team USA's offense disappeared. The squad managed just six hits -- all singles -- against the Dominican Republic, their lone run coming on a bases-loaded walk.
If USA wants to keep going in the tournament they're going to have to figure out how to score without Wright -- who has the team's lone home run -- in the lineup. It's not as though they don't have the tools to do it -- Joe Mauer, Giancarlo Stanton, Ryan Braun, Adam Jones, etc. pack more than enough punch -- but most of them have been pretty quiet in the tournament thus far.
On the hill for Puerto Rico will be right-hander Nelson Figueroa, who gave up two runs on five hits in four innings of work against Venezuela in his lone WBC start last week. The 38-year-old hasn't thrown in the big leagues since May of 2011.
The US and Puerto Rico met in similar do-or-die circumstances in the 2009 WBC, with Team USA emerging victorious and advancing to the semi-finals. The winner of Friday night's game will join Japan, the Netherlands, and the Dominican Republic in San Francisco for the final round.
USA vs. Puerto Rico: Friday, 7:00 p.m. local, 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Marlins Park, Miami, Florida
TV: MLB Network (U.S.), ESPN Deportes (U.S.)
Starting Pitchers: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. RHP Nelson Figueroa