For the second time this week, Team Puerto Rico and Team USA will meet in the World Baseball Classic. This time, however, the winner moves on and the loser goes home. Tonight’s game is set to start at 7 PM ET and will be played at Marlins Park in Miami.
In the teams’ first matchup this past Tuesday, the USA defeated Puerto Rico 7-1. These countries also faced off in an elimination game in the previous WBC, in which Team USA sent Team Puerto Rico packing.
Chicago White Sox right fielder, Alex Rios, has to produce in order for Puerto Rico to advance tonight. In five WBC games this spring, Rios has yet to drive in a run. That being said, the White Sox outfielder has scored a team high five runs for Puerto Rico.
Rios has batted in the three hole for Team Puerto Rico this WBC, which is where he figures to hit for the White Sox this season as well. Rios fits perfectly in the three spot for the South Siders this year. Last season manager Robin Ventura batted Adam Dunn third, which resulted in a lot of one-two-three 1st innings ending in a Dunn strike out.
After a dramatic 4-3 victory over Team Italy this Wednesday in which Rios scored the game winning run in the bottom of the 8th, Puerto Rico should have some extra adrenaline heading into tonight. If Rios is able to jump start Puerto Rico’s offense this evening, I believe they might have a chance to upset the US. However, if Rios, along with the rest of Puerto Rico’s big bats, struggle, Team USA will advance to the World Baseball Classic Championship Round.