Despite the controversial manner in which they advanced to Round Two of the World Baseball Classic, Venezuela will face Team USA on Wednesday night in a game that will live stream from San Diego and will feature what appears to be a lopsided pitching matchup that threatens to put the Americans in a hole after just one game of the second round.
Despite finishing tied with Mexico and Italy at 1-2 in the opening WBC round, and losing to Mexico in the first-round finale 11-9, Venezuela somehow qualified for a tiebreaker “play-in” game against the Italians while the Mexico squad led by Los Angeles Dodgers’ slugger Adrian Gonzalez returned to their regular spring training routines.
Major League Baseball, which runs the World Baseball Classic, had originally announced that Mexico would play the tiebreaker with a win over Venezuela, but due to an arcane and difficult-to-understand tiebreaking rule regarding run differential — so difficult that MLB officials apparently did not understand their own rule — after recalculating, it turned out that Venezuela had qualified after all.
Behind the bat of Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera, Venezuela rallied late to top the Italians in the play-in game and move on to San Diego, where they face Team USA on Wednesday night.
To find out how to watch a live stream of the Venezuela vs. Team USA World Baseball Classic Round Two opening game for both teams, see the streaming information at the bottom of this article. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, 9 p.m. Eastern, at Petco Park in San Diego, California, on Wednesday, March 15.
In the opening matchup of the San Diego pool, Puerto Rico pulled off a stunning 3-1 upset of defending WBC champions Dominican Republic, ending the Dominican team’s 11-game WBC winning streak that dates back to the 2013 tournament.
Watch a preview of the World Baseball Classic Round Two in the video below, from USA Today.
Venezuela, on paper at least, should have the edge over Team USA on Wednesday, sending the Seattle Mariners’ ace and former American League Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez to the mound for his second start of the competition.
But in his first outing, an 11-0 first-round defeat to Puerto Rico on March 10, “King Felix” struggled, allowing a pair of runs on two hits and two walks before being yanked by Manager Omar Vizquel after just 2 2/3 innings.
Hernandez will be opposed by his newest Mariners teammate, 27-year-old journeyman lefty Drew Smyly, who replaces the Tampa Bay Rays’ Chris Archer in the USA starting rotation after Archer returned to his team’s spring training camp. Smily was acquired from Tampa Bay by the Mariners in January after posting a 7-12 record with a 4.88 ERA last season.
To watch the Venezuela vs. USA World Baseball Classic Round Two opener for both teams live stream from 42,000-seat Petco Park in San Diego, go to the MLB Network site at this link. The free live stream requires login credentials from a cable or satellite TV provider. But there are two ways to watch the game even without cable login credentials — including a free, legal option.
To watch the World Baseball Classic game live stream for free, sign up for a seven-day free trial of the Direct TV Now online TV package, which can be found by clicking on this link. While providing credit card information will be required, cancelling the package before the seven-day free trial expires prevents any charges, allowing fans to watch the Venezuela vs. USA World Baseball Classic Round Two opening game stream live without charges.
Fans who purchase a subscription to MLB.TV will also be able to watch Venezuela vs. USA and all World Baseball Classic games stream live online. Go to this link to explore the MLB.TV option.
A Spanish-Language live stream of the Venezuela vs. USA World Baseball Classic matchup is available via WatchESPN at this link, or by downloading the WatchESPN app for mobile devices.
[Featured Image by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]