The United States will face its first true test of the World Baseball Classic. Unfortunately for them, it’s win or go home.
Lance Lynn will take the ball for Mark DeRosa’s squad Saturday night at loanDepot Park in Miami against a red-hot — 4-0 in pool play — Venezuela squad
Lynn tossed five innings of one-run baseball while striking out six in his last outing Monday against Team Canada in USA’s mercy rule 12-1 victory. While his offense broke out, DeRosa was mostly impressed with what his veteran right-hander was able to do.
“I know the offense broke out — I loved it, I loved everybody contributing — but for me, the story was what Lance was able to do. Period,” DeRosa said after their win against Canada.
“I just think with some of the stipulations and parameters that we’re playing under to protect certain pitchers — or your entire pitching staff, really — we needed to reset in a big way after last night, and Lance provided it.”
Lynn will be called on to keep the American’s repeat run going. The 36-year-old apparently has plenty in the tank to carry the United States into the Semifinals.
“Normal game during the season I have like 130 [pitches],” Lynn said Monday. “I didn’t have that opportunity tonight. Those are the games you’re here for. You have to go deep, and it worked out tonight.”
Three-time American League MVP Mike Trout broke out in a big way for Team USA against Colombia. Trout entered the win-and-in game 2 for 8 (.250) on the tournament, however, his 3-for-4 performance Wednesday led his squad into the quarterfinals.
“This is the [most fun] experience I’ve had in baseball, to represent your country,” Trout said Wednesday. “It’s been a blast. Being part of this atmosphere means a lot to me. I knew going in it was going to be a fun time. I never knew it was going to be this fun.”
DeRosa’s squad will be facing a different caliber of club than they’ve been accustomed to in Pool C. Venezuela features multiple All-Stars such as Ronald Acuna Jr., Gleyber Torres, Salvador Perez and others.
The Venezuelans were the winners of Pool D, which featured Puerto Rico — who face off against Mexico on Friday night — and the Dominican Republic who were considered the favorites to win the tournament before being eliminated on Wednesday night.
Manager Omar Lopez can call on Rangers’ southpaw Martin Perez — 2.89 ERA in 32 starts in 2022 — who threw 3 1/3 innings against the Dominican Republic on March 11 allowing one run. Venezuelan’s skipper can also have Twins’ right-hander Pablo Lopez who registered a 3.75 ERA in 32 starts for the Marlins in 2022.
The winner of Saturday night’s heavyweight battle will take on Cuba in the semifinals.
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