Team U.S.A. went from playing in front of 22,580 last Friday when they beat Colombia in Miami, to 37,446 last Saturday when they lost to the Dominican Republic in Marlins Park and 22,303 when they played Canada in the first-round finale, to playing in front of 16,635 in San Diego, California’s Petco Park this past Wednesday when they opened Round Two of the 2017 World Baseball Classic with a 4-2 win over Venezuela.
U.S. skipper Jim Leyland acknowledged the difference in crowd size and interest on the part of North American fans when he spoke to reporters about the WBC after the win over the Venezuelans.
“I thought the people were into it pretty good,” Leyland said. “We're obviously trying to get the United States into it a little bit more. I think the other countries have been, up to this point, into it more. Hopefully we're going to set a little bit of a tone here where we'll pick up.”
“The longer we can hang in there and stay in this thing it could pick up a little bit more,” he added.
“We're certainly hoping for that. But we appreciate anybody that's rooting for us. We really appreciate that.”
Leyland decided on Marcus Stroman for tonight’s start against Puerto Rico, after the Toronto Blue Jays’ 25-year-old righty held the Dominican Republic scoreless for 4 2⁄3 innings in a 64-pitch, four strikeout effort in last Saturday’s loss.
Stroman told reporters in San Diego he was up for and excited about the challenge of facing a lineup as strong as Puerto Rico’s.
“They have an unbelievable lineup,” Stroman said. “I'm pretty close with some of those guys, [Francisco] Lindor, [Carlos] Correa.
“I'm excited about this moment. I love how the atmosphere at these games have been. And I can't wait to face an All-Star lineup, so I can't wait.”
There are All-Star lineups on both sides tonight in Petco Park. Daniel Murphy is back in as the U.S.A.’s DH after sitting out the last few games...
Here are the lineups for tonight’s WBC matchup: