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Lance Lynn, Team USA set to take on hot Venezuela in World Baseball Classic

The United States will face its first real test of the World Baseball Classic. Unfortunately for them, it’s win or go home.

Lance Lynn will take the ball for Mark DeRosa’s team on Saturday night at Loan Depot Park in Miami against a sizzling team from Venezuela, 4-0 in pool play.

Lynn pitched five one-run innings of baseball and struck out six in his last outing Monday against Team Canada in the USA’s 12-1 mercy rule win. Although his offense blew up, DeRosa was impressed with what his veteran right-hander was able to do.

“I know the offense broke out, I loved it, I loved that everyone contributed, but for me, the story was what Lance was able to do. Period,” DeRosa said after his win against Canada.

“I just think with some of the stipulations and parameters that we’re playing with to protect certain pitchers, or their entire pitching staff, really, we needed to reboot in a big way after last night, and Lance delivered.”

Lynn will be called up to keep the American’s repeat run. Apparently, the 36-year-old has a lot in the tank to lead the United States to the Semifinals.

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“The normal game during the season I have like 130 (shots),” Lynn said Monday. “I didn’t get that opportunity tonight. Those are the games you’re here for. You have to dig deep, and it worked tonight.”

Three-time American League MVP Mike Trout broke out in a big way for Team USA against Colombia. Trout entered the game winning and going 2-for-8 (.250) in the tournament, however his 3-for-4 performance on Wednesday led his team to the quarterfinals.

“This is the (most fun) experience I’ve ever had in baseball, representing your country,” Trout said Wednesday. “It has been great. Being part of this atmosphere means a lot to me. I knew going in was going to be a fun time. I never knew it was going to be this much fun.”

DeRosa’s team will face a club of a different caliber than they were used to in Pool C. Venezuela boasts multiple All-Stars such as Ronald Acuna Jr., Gleyber Torres, Salvador Perez and others.

The Venezuelans were the winners of Group D that featured Puerto Rico, which will face Mexico on Friday night, and the Dominican Republic, who were considered the favorites to win the tournament before being eliminated on Wednesday night.

Manager Omar López can turn to Rangers lefty Martín Pérez, a 2.89 ERA in 32 starts in 2022, who pitched 3.1 innings against the Dominican Republic on March 11, allowing one run.

The winner of Saturday night’s heavyweight battle will face Cuba in the semifinals.

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