PHOENIX — The United States can clinch a spot in the quarterfinal round of the World Baseball Classic with a victory over Colombia in a Pool C game Wednesday night.
The Americans are 2-1 heading into the final day of Pool C play and are poised to be one of two teams from the five-team group to advance to Friday’s quarterfinals at Miami.
Team USA, which did not play Tuesday, defeated Canada 12-1 by mercy rule in seven innings Monday to re-establish itself as a title contender after losing 11-5 to Mexico on Sunday.
“Obviously we turn our attention to Colombia, and we’ll be ready to go and understand the magnitude of that game,” United States manager Mark DeRosa said.
Colombia (1-2) fell 5-0 to Canada (2-1) on Tuesday afternoon, setting up the United States as a strong favorite in the pool-play finale.
Colombia must beat the United States on Wednesday to have the possibility of advancing to the quarterfinals.
Should Colombia win, there would be a three-way tie for second place in Pool C between Colombia, the United States and the loser of the Wednesday game between Canada (2-1) and Mexico (2-1). The quarterfinal berth would go to the team among those three that wins a tiebreaker (run differential divided by the number of defensive outs registered against the other tied teams).
A loss to the Americans would put Colombia in last place in Pool C and out of automatically qualifying for the next World Baseball Classic.
“We’re going to continue working,” said Colombia manager Jolbert Cabrera, whose team has lost consecutive games after opening with a win over Mexico on Saturday.
“We’ll try to keep up the mood for the boys. We can’t do anything else but come give a good game against the United States.”
After Team USA used eight pitchers in the loss to Mexico, DeRosa needed Monday’s starter, Lance Lynn, to have a prolonged outing against Canada.
Lynn was handed a 9-0 lead in the first inning and delivered five innings on 65 pitches, 42 for strikes.
Because Team USA had an off day Tuesday, DeRosa will have his entire relief crew available behind starter Merrill Kelly.
“What Lance did was huge,” DeRosa said. “Huge for us to kind of reset the bullpen. It kind of went perfect. Nine runs in the first. Everyone was relaxed. Everyone was a part of it, passing the baton.”
Kelly, a right-hander, will start for the U.S. in a familiar setting as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
In 48 career games, all starts, at Chase Field, the 34-year-old has a 3.35 ERA in 295 2/3 innings. He is 17-15 with 275 strikeouts and 70 walks.
“I already know what the mound looks like,” Kelly said. “I know what the vantage point from the mound to home plate looks like. I’m comfortable in the dugout. I know where I sit. I know how to get there.”
Cabrera, when asked who will start on the mound for Colombia, said, “a bullpen day.”
–Javier Morales, Field Level Media