Julio Urías will start Team Mexico in a World Baseball Classic semifinal against Puerto Rico at LoanDepot Park in Miami on Friday night. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Puerto Rico, the runner-up from Pool D, will face Pool C winner Mexico in the single-elimination quarterfinals of the 2023 World Baseball Classic at 7 p.m. Friday on Fox Sports 1 at Loan Depot Park in Miami.
Mexico manager Benji Gil named Julio Urias his starting pitcher for Friday’s game against the hot Puerto Rico offense. Yadier Molina will call upon starting pitcher Marcus Stroman to help Puerto Rico reach their third straight semifinal of the World Baseball Classic.
Puerto Rico is 1-0 against Mexico during the World Baseball Classic beating them in the last tournament during 2017 in Pool D at Estadio Charros De Jalisco winning 9-4.
Puerto Rico is still trying to figure out who will the closer role after Edwin Diaz suffered a patellar tendon tear while the team celebrated its 5-2 win over the Dominican Republic. Relief pitcher Alex Claudio has added to the roster from the Designated Pitchers Pool by the Federacion De Beisbol De Puerto Rico to replace Diaz for the remainder of the tournament.
“Injuries are going to happen. You could be in your home and you could get hurt doing whatever you’re doing. It’s part of baseball, injuries,” Puerto Rico manager Yadier Molina said Thursday. “This tournament for us it means a lot, you know, to play for your country, in my case, to play for Puerto Rico, be a coach now, I mean, to have a bunch of fans on the stands supporting you. It’s just a great tournament for us. “
The injury, infielder Javier Baez said, has helped the team pull together even more.
“We are like a family,” Baez said. “We support each other, we defend one another, because we’re playing for our families and for our country and this is the most important thing.”
At bat, Puerto Rico starting shortstop Francisco Lindor has been producing in every way possible offensively. Lindor has been hitting .467 with a .529 on-base percentage, recording seven hits, one of them being a triple, and five RBI in 15 at-bats during the World Baseball Classic.
Puerto Rico catcher Martin Maldonado has also played a great set of games during pool play, hitting .500 with a .636 on-base percentage, a 1.136 OPS, recording four hits in eight at-bats along with catching the combined perfect game against Israel on Monday.
Puerto Rico center fielder Enrique Hernandez has been playing such a major role during the World Baseball Classic. Hernandez in 16 at-bats is hitting .375, with two doubles, four RBI’s, and six hits going into the single elimination quarterfinals against Mexico. Hernandez will have to continue his hot offensive production in order to help Puerto Rico make a deep run in the tournament.
Mexico will have to continue its offensive surge in order to get past the pitching of Puerto Rico. First baseman Joey Meneses has proved he can compete on a big stage in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Meneses has recorded a .474 batting average going into the single-elimination quarterfinals in route to drilling nine hits in 19 at-bats, smacking two home runs, with six RBI’s and eclipsing 1.263 OPS.
Mexico left fielder Randy Arozarena has been playing at a high-level during pool play. Arozarena in 14 at-bats has hit .500, recording seven hits, including five doubles, one home run, drawing three walks and nine RBI in Pool C. Arozarena can carry his momentum deep into the tournament if he can keep up with his hot streak.
Mexico designated hitter Rowdy Tellez has also played a huge role for the offense, hitting .353 and recording a 1.009. Tellez in 14 at-bats has placed 6 hits, parking one home run, five RBI’s, and drawing two walks during the tournament.
The winner of tonight’s game will face Japan in the semifinals in Miami on Monday at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.