After a thrilling first round that saw plenty of heroics, upsets, and big plays, the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox players participating in the World Baseball Classic will begin the second round of the tournament on Tuesday night.
The second round of the tournament, which will take place in San Diego, will feature the top two teams from Groups C and D, with Puerto Rico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and the United States battling for two spots in the semifinal round in Los Angeles over the weekend.
The second round will kick off with a battle of two undefeated teams, as the Puerto Rico squad, with Cubs star Javier Baez on its roster, will take on an undefeated Dominican Republic squad that has not lost a game in this tournament since 2009.
Baez has been stellar both in the field and at the plate for the Puerto Ricans, as he has a home run, five RBI, and a .357 batting average in 14 at-bats so far in the tournament. The Cubs infielder is the team’s lone Major League representative in the tournament, and he was instrumental in helping Puerto Rico to an undefeated romp through Group D.
As for the Dominican Republic squad, they possess one of the most loaded rosters in the tournament, with stars like Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Adrian Beltre all participating in the event as they try to win their second consecutive championship.
On Wednesday, the Chicago White Sox will hope that two of their players can help lead Team USA to a victory over Venezuela in the second game of group play. Both David Robertson and Nate Jones have pitched in the tournament and have yet to concede a run, and the American bullpen has been grateful for their help as they went 2-1 in group play to advance to this stage of the tournament.
The Venezuela squad that the Americans will face at Petco Park on Wednesday is formidable, with sluggers like Miguel Cabrera and on-base machines like Jose Altuve giving them a strong lineup that should put fear into any pitching staff that has to oppose it.
After the first two games get the second stage of the tournament started, the teams will play their other two opponents in a round-robin fashion. The United States will play Puerto Rico on Friday night in San Diego, and they’ll finish up group play with a rematch against the Dominican Republic on Saturday night.
The two teams with the best record will advance to the championship round at Dodger Stadium, which will take place next week and will pit the teams against the top two finishers in Group E, which is taking place in Japan this week.