Their collective paycheck in 2017 will total a little more than $20 million, roughly two-thirds the salary of the kind of pitcher more casual fans might expect to find on the mound in the later rounds of the World Baseball Classic. Then win or go home again. This time, in the military town of San Diego, the sentiments should be reversed, with most fans cheering for the U.S. in their bid to win the WBC title for the first time in the tournament's history.
That is a tall order for any team, let alone one that is one game over.500 in the history of this tournament.
Puerto Rico: Like Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico has some exciting talent on the roster.
Venezuela (0-2) fell victim to a United States comeback on Wednesday night.
The U.S. and the Dominican Republic, both 1-1, will play for the fourth and final WBC semifinal berth on Saturday night.
With most of the 32,463 fans on their feet and chanting in the top of the ninth, a U.S rally fell just short.
Trailing 6-3 entering the ninth, the Americans started a rally and almost tied the game.
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Buster Posey struck out. But Brandon Crawford tripled home two runs, pulling the US within one. It didn't matter though as Josh Harrison struck out to end the game. For the last four years, Puerto Rico has heard all about it.
When Carlos Correa hit an RBI single in the first inning, the first of six straight singles off USA starter Marcus Stroman, he took off his batting helmet and ran his right hand over the top of his bleached-blond hair. The damage resulted in four first-inning runs. That scored a runner from third, but when Yadier Molina tried to go from second to third on the play, he overslid third base and was tagged out for the second out.
Posey's solo home run in the fifth brought the United States within two runs, and after Andrew McCutchen was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the sixth, Jones' second homer of Pool F made it a one-run game.
Puerto Rico turned up the volume even in batting practice, placing a boom box with a rousing soundtrack just outside the cage. Yelich then hit a comebacker that knocked Hernandez's glove off. Puerto Rico's first six batters all reached base on singles, scoring four runs early. Arenado, who grew up in Orange County, has both Puerto Rican and Cuban bloodlines. "I've been feeding off Archer, and Stroman, and obviously Smyly had a heck of a game the other day".
United States: Ah, the team that makes you wonder how good they would be if their country and players only cared about the WBC. The Dominicans, undefeated in their run through the 2013 WBC, last lost in the tournament in 2009, to the Netherlands. For an arm like Stroman who is projected to be the Blue Jays' 4th starter (albeit in a talented rotation), he is essentially the ace of the National squad.
"Givens, when he pitched, that actually went through my head", Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez said. He does not appear impulsive or outlandish.
"For years, it has been like that", Rodriguez said.