Carlos Zambrano gets the call for Venezuela in an attempt to keep the struggling Venezuelan team's WBC hopes alive. Joel Piñeiro will start for Puerto Rico, which has yet to lose in four games, all of them before an ecstatic home crowd in San Juan.
Puerto Rico has scored 29 runs in four games, second best in the tournament, without the presence of Carlos Delgado in the lineup. They've hit seven home runs, one fewer than the tournament-leading D.R. squad.
On the other hand, Venezuela has managed to score just 15 runs. Ramon Hernandez leads the time with five hits and Miguel Cabrera has hit two home runs. But Bobby Abreu has just three singles and four walks in the first four games. Carlos Guillen has batted in the #2 slot in three of the games and is 1 for 12.
Zambrano was hit hard by the D.R. team in his first game, giving up four runs in 2 2/3 IP.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico seems to be enjoying the WBC experience and thriving off of its home crowd and a different player seems to be the star in each game.
With Cuba losing today to the Dominican Republic, this game, surprisingly is not a must win game for Venezuela. The Venezuelans could lose today, beat the D.R. Tuesday and hope that Puerto Rico beats Cuba Wednesday. That would make Puerto Rico 3-0 and the other three teams 1-2 and the runs allowed tiebreaker would come into play. However, since Venezuela gave up 7 runs to Cuba and the D.R. gave up just 3 to Cuba, the Venezuelans would likely have to pitch a shutout against the D.R. squad to advance in that scenario.
OK, so maybe this is a must win game for Venezuela.
FINAL SCORE Venezuela 6, Puerto Rico 0
WP -- Carlos Zambrano
LP -- Joel Piñeiro
HRs -- Endy Chavez (his 2nd), Victor Martinez (a grand slam)
Venezuela picks up its third shutout in five games and hands Puerto Rico its first loss. All the team in the San Juan Regional are now 1-1.
So ... tomorrow Venezuela plays the D.R. and the winner goes on to the semis. And on Wednesday, Cuba plays Puerto Rico and the winner goes to the semis. This means that the late semifinal on Saturday will be Dominican Republic/Venezuela vs. Puerto Rico/Cuba.