You can turn your nose up when it comes to the greater meaning of the World Baseball Classic, but you can't deny it's more fun than watching guys try to get out of Arizona as quick as possible.
Team USA had another fun 9 innings on Friday night, but came up short this time, falling to Puerto Rico 6-5 in San Diego. Puerto Rico advances to the championship round with the win.
U.S. starter Marcus Stroman struggled out of the gate, allowing 4 runs in the first inning that ultimately proved to be too much to come back from.
Team USA managed to chip away at the lead with an RBI single by Venezuela game hero Eric Hosmer, then got solo home runs from Buster Posey and Adam Jones in the 5th and 6th innings to rally within one run.
A critical throwing error by Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado allowed two runs to score for Puerto Rico in the bottom of the 6th, though, boosting their lead to 6-3.
capitalizes on the error by Arenado to take a 6-3 lead late in the game! #WBC2017 pic.twitter.com/FeDim4ivND— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) March 18, 2017
A Brandon Crawford two-run triple with two outs in the top of the 9th gave the Americans one last glimmer of hope, but Edwin Diaz struck out Josh Harrison with the game-tying run on third to clinch the win and a trip to Los Angeles.
Team USA's loss sets up a winner-take-all contest with the Dominican Republic to determine who gets the final spot in the championship round. Japan and the Netherlands will join Puerto Rico and tonight's winner in the WBC's final four. The United States hasn't advanced to the final round since 2009, when they finished in 4th place.
Puerto Rico vs. Venezuela, 2:30 p.m. CDT
Venezuela is already eliminated from advancing due to their losses against Team USA and the Dominican, but they'll try to cap off this year's tournament appearance with a win, and Hernan Perez might get one last WBC at-bat before rejoining the Brewers. Puerto Rico tries to sweep the pool.
United States vs. Dominican Republic, 9 p.m. CDT
Kansas City Royals ace Danny Duffy takes the ball for the Americans, facing off against Ervin Santana and the fearsome Dominican lineup.