Puerto Rico is going to San Francisco.
Behind the two-hit pitching of journeyman right-hander Nelson Figueroa, Puerto Rico defeated Team USA, 4-3, on Friday night at Marlins Park, knocking the Americans -- the only team replete with Major Leaguers -- out of the World Baseball Classic.
The championship round in San Francisco is now complete. Puerto Rico will play the Dominican Republic on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET at Marlins Park to determine matchups for the semifinals at AT&T Park. The winner will play the Kingdom of the Netherlands on Monday, and the loser faces Japan on Sunday.
The final game is slated for Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. The semifinals are at 9 p.m. and will be broadcast in the U.S. live on MLB Network and ESPN Deportes.
"If this was to be the last game in my career, that would have been something," said Figueroa. "But I keep trying for the World Series ring. And thank God, it wasn't only for Nelson Figueroa, but rather for the Puerto Rican team. And we played very hard and we won."
P.R. had a 4-0 lead and overcame feverish U.S. rallies in the seventh and eighth to advance to the semis for the first time in the third edition of the tournament. The Japanese won the first two.
The U.S. now has failed to make it out of the second round twice, the first time in 2006. The Americans lost in the semifinals to Japan at Dodger Stadium four years ago.
On Friday night, the U.S. had the bases loaded in the eighth inning with two out and a chance to pull out the game with a base hit. But Eric Hosmer, a late add for injured Mark Teixeira, grounded to second. Team USA manager Joe Torre said afterward that intensity of play from all sides illustrates just how hard it is to survive in this kind of tournament.
"Well, I've been on both sides of the short series, and that's what it is. It doesn't mean you don't have a good team," said Torre, who won the World Series four times with the Yankees, but fell short the eight other times when his club made the playoffs during his 12-year tenure in New York. "The only thing I can say is this has been one of the most memorable experiences of my career.
"I'm a little emotional, but this has been much more than I expected. I knew it was going to be fun, but the commitment from every one of these guys made this a great experience for me."
Puerto Rico eliminates United States from WBC
MLB.com | Mar 16