Team USA rating: U.S. cruises previous Cuba to achieve World Baseball Classic ultimate as Trea Turner homers twice

Team USA is one win away from a second consecutive World Baseball Classic championship. Sunday evening in Miami, Team USA cruised to a 14-2 blowout win over Cuba (field rating) to clinch a spot in Tuesday’s championship recreation. USA will face the winner of Monday evening’s Japan vs. Mexico recreation. Cuba has been eradicated.

USA is the third workforce to seem in back-to-back WBC championship video games, becoming a member of Japan (2006 and 2009) and Puerto Rico (2013 and 2017). They will look to hitch these 2006 and 2009 Japan groups as the one back-to-back champions in WBC historical past. Before successful the 2017 WBC, USA superior no additional than the second spherical within the 2006, 2009, and 2013 WBCs.

Sunday’s recreation is believed to be the primary time the Cuban nationwide workforce performed in Miami for the reason that Cuban revolution in 1959. Miami is residence to the most important Cuban inhabitants within the U.S. and there have been protests condemning the island’s dictatorship exterior the ballpark. Three separate followers additionally ran onto the sphere throughout play with indicators and flags.

Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s recreation and a stay up for what’s subsequent.

1. Cuba missed a golden alternative early

Is the primary inning too early for a turning level? I do not assume so. Cuba loaded the bases within the high of the primary inning on three infield singles, and when cleanup hitter Alfredo Despaigne spit on Adam Wainwright’s 3-2 curveball to attract the bases loaded stroll and provides Cuba a 1-0 lead, it appeared Cuba was primed to place a crooked quantity on the board. It was a Big Moment early.

Rather than let Cuba blow the sport open, Wainwright & Co. restricted Cuba to only that one run. A floor ball to 3rd base (power out at residence), a pop as much as second, and a floor ball to brief snuffed out the rally and restricted the injury. And three batters into the underside of the primary, it was 2-1 USA. Mookie Betts doubled, Mike Trout lined out, and Paul Goldschmidt went deep.

Cuba’s win expectancy sat at 74% following Despaigne’s RBI stroll. That’s an enormous quantity for the primary inning. Another massive quantity: 2.37. That is the variety of runs MLB groups averaged following a bases loaded, no outs state of affairs final season. Rather than put a (wanted) dent within the scoreboard Cuba, settled for simply the one run. That inning was an enormous missed alternative.

Despaigne, it needs to be famous, now owns that longest on-base streak in WBC historical past. The first inning bases loaded stroll prolonged his on-base streak to 18 video games relationship again to 2009. Robinson Canó held the earlier file at 17 video games.

2. USA saved piling on

Two runs within the first, one run within the second, two runs within the third, two runs within the fourth, two runs within the fifth, 4 runs within the sixth. USA scored in every of the primary six innings, thanks partially to Trea Turner’s second inning solo residence run. He after all hit the clutch game-winning grand slam in opposition to Venezuela on Saturday. Here is Turner’s second homer in as many WBC at-bats:

Turner, the $300 million No. 9 hitter, added one other residence run later within the recreation and is 7 for 19 (.368) with 4 residence runs within the WBC. The 4 residence runs lead this yr’s WBC and are essentially the most by a USA participant in a single WBC. Here is the single-WBC residence run leaderboard:

  1. Seung-Yuop Lee, Korea: 5 HR in 2006
  2. Adrián Beltré, Dominican Republic: 4 HR in 2006
  3. Wladimir Balentien, Netherlands: 4 HR in 2017
  4. Trea Turner, USA: 4 HR in 2023 (and counting)

Turner is the second Team USA participant with two homers in a WBC recreation, becoming a member of Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. in 2006. Griffey is serving as USA’s hitting coach this yr. Turner has dominated within the No. 9 spot and Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado have been a two-man wrecking crew within the Nos. 3-4 spots. They went a mixed 4 for 7 with 5 RBI on Sunday.

All informed, Goldschmidt is 7 for 21 (.333) with 9 RBI and extra walks (seven) than strikeouts (5) within the WBC. That works out to a .517 on-base proportion. Arenado is 9 for 23 (.391) with three doubles and a triple within the WBC. Like I stated, Goldschmidt and Arenado have been a two-man wrecking crew in the midst of the lineup.

It wasn’t till the seventh inning that USA was held scoreless (that was the sport’s first 1-2-3 inning). Things acquired so out of hand that bench gamers Jeff McNeil (changed Tim Anderson at second), Bobby Witt Jr. (changed Arenado at third), Cedric Mullins (changed Trout in middle), and Kyle Higashioka (changed Will Smith at catcher) acquired into the sport. USA emptied the bench.

Arenado, by the best way, exited the sport after taking a pitch to the hand within the fifth inning. It seemed to be precautionary — Arenado was seen high-fiving his teammates within the dugout — and X-rays got here again unfavorable. Still, that was briefly worrisome after the Jose Altuve harm Saturday.

3. Wainwright settled down

To be truthful, Cuba’s first inning rally was hardly Wainwright’s fault. I imply, three straight infield singles? That’s some robust luck. Despaigne put a great at-bat collectively to work the bases-loaded stroll, however after that, Wainwright retired 12 of the ultimate 15 batters he confronted, and he acquired USA by way of 4 innings. There was a degree it seemed like he’d solely go 4 batters.

Now 41, Wainwright didn’t throw a pitch over 88.6 mph in opposition to Cuba, and that is about the very best you may see out of him as of late. Velocity will not be his recreation. He cuts and sinks his fastball, and nonetheless has that Hall of Fame curveball. Cuba was near breaking the sport open within the first inning, however Wainwright escaped, and he continued on to have a powerful outing. Solid work by the veteran.

player headshot

The WBC pitch restrict is 80 within the semifinal, although Wainwright was pulled after 64 pitches, presumably due to a mandate set by the Cardinals. Wainwright gave method to St. Louis teammate Miles Mikolas, who gave USA 4 innings of one-run ball. Aaron Loup acquired the ultimate three outs within the ninth inning to seal the win and championship recreation berth.

Team USA’s offense scored early and infrequently and that made life simple on supervisor Mark DeRosa, who hasn’t precisely stood out for his bullpen administration within the WBC. USA’s go-to excessive leverage relievers (Jason Adam, David Bedner, Devin Williams, and Ryan Pressly) all acquired the evening off and might be well-rested for Tuesday’s championship recreation.

4. Up subsequent

For Cuba, a visit residence. They have been eradicated. For USA, it is the championship recreation Tuesday evening in Miami. They will tackle the winner of Monday evening’s Japan vs. Mexico semifinal recreation. Team USA has not but introduced a beginning pitcher they usually could not announce one till they know their opponent. It will doubtless be considered one of Kyle Freeland, Merrill Kelly, or Brady Singer.

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