The Dominican Republic and erstwhile underdogs Puerto Rico will meet Tuesday to decide which team joins Japan on the list of World Baseball Classic champions, after the Dominican won their seventh straigth game in a 4-1 victory over the Netherlands on Monday. Giancarlo Alvarado is scheduled to pitch for Puerto Rico, while Samuel Deduno gets the nod for the Dominican.
The Dominican Republic are perennial favorites for the WBC championship, but Puerto Rico—long thought of as a baseball hotbed in permanent decline following their inclusion in the MLB Draft—reaches the title game having fought off favored Venezuela in Round 1 and the United States in Round 2.
Central to their offense: Two St. Louis Cardinals, out of four in the WBC. Yadier Molina, who's hit .304 in six WBC games, and Carlos Beltran, who's struggled so far to a .207 mark, could both figure into a Puerto Rico upset. Of course, it's hard to say who will come through in such small samples; so far shortstop Mike Aviles has driven in nine of Puerto Rico's 23 runs.
The Dominican's big hitter so far is the somewhat more predictable Robinson Cano, who's gone an impressive 15-29 with six RBI and five runs scored in seven games. (They've also gotten a .353 line from none other than Miguel Tejada.) As always, you'll have to have MLB Network to watch—apparently people who pay a couple hundred bucks every year to get MLB.TV aren't quite in the World Baseball Classic demographic.
[Update: Through three-and-a-half innings, the Dominican Republic leads Puerto Rico by a score of 2-0. For more updates, stay tuned to this storystream.]