SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- It's all over but the shouting. Or, in this case, the seeding.
Sunday night's Dominican Republic-Puerto Rico matchup had the chance to be a huge ending to Pool C play, but victories by both teams on Saturday made the game far less dramatic. Both teams are guaranteed to advance to Round 2 in Miami, which begins Tuesday, so the finale here will merely determine who plays when. Sunday's game starts at 7:30 p.m. ET can be watched live on MLB Network and ESPN Deportes.
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The winner on Sunday will be Pool C's winner and will play the runner-up from Arizona's Pool D. The runner-up from here plays the Pool D winner, with both games on Tuesday, either at 1 p.m. or 8 p.m. ET. As games were set to begin on Sunday, only Italy had secured a spot in Round 2 from Pool D.
Lefty Wandy Rodriguez will start for the Dominican Republic, making his World Baseball Classic debut. Given the Dominican Republic's disappointing finish in 2009, already advancing helps make that a distant memory. A strong outing from Rodriguez could help put an exclamation point on this first round for his team and country.
"It's very important playing for my country and representing them as best as I can," Rodriguez said. "I saw the lineup, Puerto Rico's lineup. It's a great lineup. I've always had my pitching plan. I'm going there to try to have good command of my pitches and locate them, and that's all I'm going to try to do."
Rodriguez may not face the same lineup that helped Puerto Rico go 2-0 entering this game. But to think the host squad will simply rest on its laurels is misunderstanding what the team is about.
"In terms of resting, yeah, some guys will rest, but we're not going to go in there to lose," manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "From the beginning, we said we're going to take one day at a time. [Friday] we beat Spain, and [Saturday] we beat Venezuela. We're going to come out to win. We have a day off on Monday when we go to Miami."
Puerto Rico will give the ball to veteran Orlando Roman, now in his third World Baseball Classic. This will be his first start, having tossed 1 2/3 innings in relief over the past two Classics combined. He knows he has his work cut out for him against a Dominican offense that has scored 15 runs over its first two Pool C games.
"They are a team that is very aggressive," Roman said. "They're a team that runs, they hit and they have all the tools, but we're going to be working hard. Yadier [Molina] and I are going to work on that and be aggressive with them. There are no easy spots in the lineup."