USA needs Hosmer, Stroman to lead the way against Puerto Rico

Two days removed from a thrilling, comeback win over Venezuela, the United States will take on undefeated Puerto Rico in San Diego’s Petco Park on Friday night with the potential to reach unforeseen heights.

The U.S. has yet to push past the second round of the World Baseball Classic, but with a win over Puerto Rico, the history books would need to be rewritten.

Puerto Rico, however, won’t hand over the pen without a fight.

Largely due to their outstanding offense, Puerto Rico has outscored their opponents 32-8 to go undefeated through their first four games of the WBC, leaning on Houston Astros’ Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltran to keep the bats hot.

Correa has recorded just three hits in his 11 at bats, but he has knocked two balls out of the park and notched five RBIs and four runs. Beltran, on the other hand, boasts a strong bating average at .462 through 13 at bats.

Also helping keep their opponents at bay, New York Mets right-hander Seth Lugo handled Venezuela in the first round of the WBC, holding Venezuela to just one hit and picking up three strikeouts through 5 1/3 innings.

Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman had similar success from the mound for the U.S. in round one, as he recorded four strikeouts through 4 2/3 innings against the Dominican Republic’s star-studded lineup. He will look to pick up where he left off against Puerto Rico on Friday night.

Offensively, the U.S. has relied on San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford (.455 BA) and Miami Marlins left field Chrisitan Yelich (.429 BA) to get on base, while Kansas City Royals Eric Hosmer has helped put points on the board with a team-high four RBIs.

Hosmer and company will have their first swing against the Lugo-led Puerto Rico team starting at 7 p.m. PST.