Venezuela and the Dominican Republic will take on one another in the World Baseball Classic on Thursday.
Both teams enter the game with 0-1 records in the second round, and this is almost a must-win for the squads. While neither team would be eliminated with a loss, the road becomes very difficult at 0-2. The other two teams in Pool F, the United States and Puerto Rico are currently 1-0. Those teams will go against one another on Friday.
The Dominican Republic lost in the Pool F opening game to Puerto Rico, and it was a hard-fought battle. Puerto Rico's pitching staff was just too much for the talented Dominican lineup, and it was what some would consider an upset win. The Dominican Republic entered the WBC this year as the defending champions, and the team was seen as a likely candidate to repeat.
Venezuela is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Team USA on Wednesday. With a 2-0 lead late, it appeared the Venezuela squad would pick up a big first win. The USA however came back with three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to win.
On the mound for the Dominican team in this game will be Edinson Volquez. The newest member of the Miami Marlins' pitching rotation had some positive moments in the first round, but also struggled a little. Volquez faced Team USA in the first round game, and now will have to oppose the likes of Miguel Cabrera and Jose Altuve.
Venezuela is countering with Jhoulys Chacin for the start, and he also has flashed some big-time success during his career. Chacin did not perform well in the first round, but will try to reverse his fortunes in this important game. In round one, Chacin allowed five runs in 3.2 innings and gave up two home runs.
Venezuela will also be without the services of Marlins' third baseman Martin Prado for this game. The veteran injured his hamstring during Wednesday's loss and is day-to-day.
Thursday's game is set to begin at 10:00 p.m.