March 29, 2023 11:50 pm

By the lofty requirements of Cuban international baseball history, this is not a Cuban group to keep in mind.

There is no pitcher who compares to the good results of Pedro Lazo, Cuba’s existing pitching coach and living legend. Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert are not Omar Linares or Yuli Gurriel.

But that does not matter mainly because this Cuban group has produced its personal spot in Cuban baseball history. Cuba has returned to the Globe Baseball Classic semifinals for the initially time given that the initially WBC in 2006, marking a return to the final 4 for the group that was international baseball royalty for so lots of years.

Considering the fact that the winner would have 4 days till it played once more just after traveling from Japan to the United States, the format permitted each teams to method this 1 game, win-or-go-residence quarterfinal with an all hands on deck method. That suited Cuba superior than Australia mainly because it had a deeper pitching employees of energy arms. Cuba’s most significant strength as a pitching employees is that it had a trio of pitchers who have been amongst the superior relievers in Japan’s Nippon Experienced Baseball league in 2022. Cuba was capable to throw all 3 of them—Yariel Rodriguez, Livan Moinelo and Raidel Martinez—at Australia when mixing in Roenis Elias as nicely.

Rodriguez began the game for Cuba, but Australia jumped out to an early lead against him on a Rixon Wingrove RBI single in the second. Cuba promptly answered as Roel Santos walked, Yoan Moncada doubled and Luis Robert scored Santos on a ground out in the third.

Cuba then took a lead it would under no circumstances relinquish in the fifth inning, when once more with the best of the lineup major the way. Santos, the team’s leadoff hitter, singled, Moncada walked and Robert was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Alfredo Despaigne drove in Santos on a sacrifice fly and Yoelkis Guibert drove in Moncada and Robert on an RBI single, providing Cuba a four-1 lead.

Wingrove reduce the lead to 1 with a two-run residence run off of Elias in the sixth inning, but Cuba’s bullpen shut the door just after that. Moinelo threw a scoreless eighth inning and Martinez struck out two of the 3 batters he faced in the ninth, which includes Australia cleanup hitter Darryl George, to finish the game.

Rodriguez was the only Cuban pitcher to throw additional than 50 pitches in the game, so the rest of the employees will be offered by WBC pitcher rest guidelines for Sunday’s semifinal.

For Australia, it is nonetheless a extremely admirable outcome as the group reached the second round for the initially time in Globe Baseball Classic history. For Cuba, a second round loss would have been an acceptable outcome, but 1 that just reinforced its descent from the best rungs of international baseball.

This is the initially time that Cuba has mixed MLB players with players who have stayed in Cuba to play in Serie Nacional as nicely as players who have gone to play in Japan. That did make a dramatic distinction in the depth of Cuba’s roster.

The pair of White Sox’s in the lineup, Moncada and Robert, scored two of Cuba’s 4 runs and the Mariners’ Elias pitched two innings when the A’s Miguel Romero pitched 1.two scoreless innings.

And by blending with each other a roster of players who are starring in Cuba, Japan and the U.S., Cuba has its greatest international good results in years. The group that has won 3 of six Olympic gold medals in baseball as nicely as two silvers is back amongst the world’s final 4.

Anthony Santander (Getty Images)

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