The United States and Japan will face off with a trip to the World Baseball Classic finals on the line on Tuesday.
The USA has never reached the WBC finals in the three previous editions of the tournament. Japan meanwhile has reached the semifinals in every WBC that has been held, and has taken home the championship twice. In this year's WBC, Japan is a perfect 6-0. Team USA is 4-2, and needed to win an elimination game last time out.
The winner of this contest will move to face Puerto Rico for the 2017 WBC Championship. Puerto Rico outlasted the Netherlands on Monday in 11 innings, to reach a second consecutive title game.
Team USA will have Tanner Roark on the mound for the start, and he will look to improve on a poor first appearance. Roark went 1.1 innings in the WBC so far, and allowed three runs. Roark who plays for the Washington Nationals, walked two and allowed three hits in a rough outing.
Japan will go with Tomoyuki Sugano for the start, and he brings with him some solid strikeout totals. Sugano has struck out ten hitters thus far in his 8.1 innings of WBC work. The right-hander has given up his fare share of hits however, with 11 total knocks surrendered. The opposition has also plated runs against Sugano, and he owns a 5.40 E.R.A in two starts.
There is a clear difference in terms of power between the teams, but that could also have to do with the buildings where they played. Through two rounds, Japan has three players with three home runs each. The USA has no players that have reached three home runs. The USA has played in two parks that favor pitchers however, and Japan's games were played in a complex which is often more friendly to hitters.
One player that could be key for the United States is Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins. Stanton homered in the USA's last win, and he has fantastic career numbers at Dodger Stadium. This game along with the finals will be held at the historic venue in Los Angeles.
Tuesday's semifinals game is scheduled to begin at 9:00 p.m.