3/16/2013 6:57 P.M. ET
Championship baseball returns to AT&T Park
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
The fans at San Francisco sure are getting used to big occasions.
The World Series has been played in AT&T Park in two of the last three seasons, and the World Baseball Classic will decide its championship in the park over the next few days.
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There hasn't been any baseball played in the stadium since Madison Bumgarner, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo combined on a two-hitter against Detroit in Game Two of the World Series, but the Giants will have two players (Casilla and Angel Pagan) working at home in the next few days.
Pagan and Team Puerto Rico will take on Team Japan -- the two-time defending champions of the World Baseball Classic -- in the first semifinal on Sunday night. And then Casilla and the Dominican Republic will play the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the other half of the bracket on Monday.
Japan beat the Netherlands twice in the last round -- once by a 16-4 score and then 10-6 in the pool championship -- and the Dominican Republic has beaten Puerto Rico twice (4-2 in the opening round and 2-0 in Saturday's game.) Two of the tourney's best four pitching teams remain.
The Dominican Republic has logged a 2.17 ERA in its first six games -- all victories -- and Puerto Rico has a 3.10 ERA to go with its 4-3 record. Japan is 5-1 with a 3.98 ERA and leads the remaining teams with a .294 batting average (59-for-201) and eight home runs through six games.
The Dominican is hitting .291 with seven home runs, while the Netherlands (.274) and Puerto Rico (.224) have been having less success offensively. Puerto Rico has hit just one home run.
The Giants took an 8-3 victory in Game One of the World Series last season and 2-0 in Game Two, but they had to celebrate in another park after celebrating the sweep against Detroit. The same phenomenon happened in 2010, when the Giants won twice at home and took the title on the road against Texas. But this time, AT&T Park can be assured a champion and a celebration.
Puerto Rico and Japan will kick things off at 9:00 p.m. ET on Sunday night, and the Dominican Republic will play against the Netherlands on Monday night at 9:00 P.M. The two winners of the two games will meet up in the championship game on Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. Fans can watch all the action on MLB Network and ESPN Deportes.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.