Friday, March 17, 2017

2017 World Baseball Classic Showdown: USA vs. Puerto Rico Preview

From the desk of:  PLANET BASEBALL


United States
Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is undefeated through four games of World Baseball Classic play.

They were far and away the class of Pool-D, offering no quarter to opponents Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy.  Puerto Rico outscored the field by a 32-8 margin, and out-hit them by a similar 36-13 margin.

In a rematch of the 2013 WBC final, Puerto Rico most recently defeated Dominican Republic opening Round Two play.  Their 3-1 victory was the most tightly contested game they've played to date.  Each team was limited to six hits.

So far Puerto Rico has hit eight home runs and have committed just one error in the field.

New York Mets pitcher Seth Lugo will climb the hill again for Puerto Rico in their Friday night showdown against Team USA.  He started Puerto Rico's opening game of the WBC against Venezuela, surrendering just one hit and striking out three over 5.1 scoreless innings of work.

Team USA's most recent victory over Venezuela was perhaps their best played game of the tournament so far.

They have outscored their four opponents by a somewhat less prolific 20-11 margin.  However, USA has matched Puerto Rico's 36 hits during the tourney (while allowing their opponents 24 hits).  They are also coming off back-to-back 11 hit games (against Canada and Venezuela).

Team USA's strength has easily been their starting pitching.  Chris Archer, Marcus Stroman, Danny Duffy, and Drew Smyly, all started a game apiece.  Together, they have combined to allow just one unearned run on eight hits and no walks, with 22 strikeouts through 17.1 stellar innings pitched. None has yet to pitch five full innings.

Marcus Stroman returns to the mound for USA against Puerto Rico.

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