Two days after a thrilling back-and-forth game that took extra innings to decide, Italy and Venezuela will suit up for a rematch tonight with a spot in the second round of the World Baseball Classic on the line.The countries will face each other in a Pool D tiebreaker game at
Two days after a thrilling back-and-forth game that took extra innings to decide, Italy and Venezuela will suit up for a rematch tonight with a spot in the second round of the World Baseball Classic on the line.
The countries will face each other in a Pool D tiebreaker game at 9 p.m. ET at Estadio de Beisbol Charros de Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico, with Italy the home team. The winner becomes the final team in the second round's Pool F alongside the Dominican Republic, United States and Puerto Rico; the loser's WBC '17 run is over. Fans can watch the matchup live on MLB Network or MLB.TV.
Puerto Rico won Pool D with a 3-0 record, but Italy, Venezuela and Mexico all finished 1-2. The two spots in the tiebreaker game were given to Italy and Venezuela, with Mexico eliminated based on the three teams' runs allowed per defensive inning in Classic play. Italy's 1.05 runs allowed per defensive inning and Venezuela's 1.11 were just lower than Mexico's 1.12 mark.
• Mexico edges Venezuela but out of Classic.
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
Mexico protested the decision, arguing that the team was not given credit for enough innings. The host country was credited with only eight defensive innings in its Classic opener because Mexico did not record an out in the ninth inning, when it allowed five runs in a walk-off loss to Italy. If the ninth inning had been counted, Mexico's runs allowed per defensive inning would have been lower than Venezuela's. However, Major League Baseball announced a final ruling early Monday morning that Italy and Venezuela would be the teams to play the tiebreaker game. Crediting Mexico for a ninth inning in which it didn't record an out would have essentially punished Italy for being the home team and walking off.
Venezuela took the first matchup against Italy on Saturday, a dramatic 11-10 win in 10 innings. Italy opened up a 5-0 lead before Venezuela rallied to go up 8-5 in the seventh. But Italy tied the game in the eighth, and after Venezuela re-took the lead in the top of the ninth, Italy came back to tie the game at 10 in the bottom of the ninth. The Italians had a chance to win it there, but had the winning run thrown out at the plate. Venezuela scored in the top of the 10th and held on.
Omar Bencomo will start the tiebreaker game for Venezuela. The 28-year-old right-hander, who pitched at Double-A and Triple-A in the Twins' system last season, has thrown one scoreless inning in relief at the Classic. Team Italy has not yet announced its starting pitcher for the tiebreaker.
Three things to know about this game
• Venezuela's win over Italy on Saturday was in large part due to its Major League stars. Jose Altuve went 2-for-6 and scored three times, Martin Prado went 5-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs and Carlos Gonzalez went 3-for-5 with two doubles.
• For Italy, the biggest production on Saturday came from catcher Francisco Cervelli, second baseman Daniel Descalso and third baseman Alex Liddi. Cervelli went 3-for-6 with a double and two runs scored, Descalso went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs and Liddi went 2-for-5 with a home run.
• The teams will each be missing a key contributor from Saturday's game. Venezuela catcher Salvador Perez, who went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in the ninth inning, injured his left knee in a collision at home plate in the bottom of the ninth. Italy center fielder Brandon Nimmo, who also homered in the game, strained his right hamstring on Sunday.
The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Tokyo Dome, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.