Gio Gonzalez munched on chicken wings and shrimp scampi at a sports bar in his hometown of Hialeah, Fla., as he watched Team USA rally to stay alive in the World Baseball Classic.
The next game he’ll take in from the mound. The Washington Nationals’ left-hander will start for the United States in its opener of round two tonight against Puerto Rico in Miami.
The U.S. team rallied with seven runs in the last two innings Sunday to advance by beating Canada, 9-4, in Phoenix.
The second round will start with a split doubleheader today. The Dominican Republic will face Italy in an afternoon game, followed by Team USA against Puerto Rico.
“At this point, you’re getting the cream,” U.S. manager Joe Torre said. “They’ve all gotten through the first round.”
The Americans hit .297 in the opening round, led by David Wright (5-for-11) and Joe Mauer (5-for-12). Wright had the only U.S. home run, a grand slam that helped beat Italy on Saturday.
Eleven relievers have combined for an ERA of 1.93. But Torre’s three starters — R.A. Dickey, Ryan Vogelsong and Derek Holland — have a combined ERA of 6.00.
Gonzalez hopes to fare better. A 21-game winner last year, he’ll be limited to 80 pitches and plans to use them efficiently.
“You want to pitch to contact and get them out,” he said. “You don’t want to save your bullets. You want to go as deep in the game as you can.”
Starting for Puerto Rico will be right-hander Mario Santiago, who has a 36-51 record in seven minor-league seasons and has never made the majors.
The Dominican Republic (3-0) is the only unbeaten team in Miami, and its lineup includes former Marlins Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez, both traded during the team’s recent payroll purge.
Edinson Volquez will start for the Dominicans against Tiago Da Silva and surprising Italy, which is into the second round of the WBC for the first time.
DUTCH SURPRISE FOR CUBA
Kalian Sams’ ninth-inning sacrifice fly scored Andruw Jones with the winning run, capping a comeback from a two-run, eighth-inning deficit and lifting the Netherlands past Cuba, 7-6, Monday in Tokyo and into the World Baseball Classic semifinals.
The Netherlands, the first European team to reach the final four, advanced along with two-time defending champion Japan. At the semifinals in San Francisco on March 17-18, they will be joined by two teams from the second round in Miami.
“This game will go down as the biggest game in Dutch history,” Netherlands manager Hensley Muelens said. “To come back like that after being down in the eighth is amazing.”