Things were looking bad for Cuba in their third game of pool play, but the country has bounced back and is now headed to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic for the first time since 2006. White Sox third baseman Yoán Moncada and center fielder Luis Robert Jr. have been right in the middle of Cuba’s resurgence in the tournament.
In Wednesday’s quarterfinals matchup against Australia, Moncada went 2-for-2 and got on base all four times with two more walks. Moncada and Robert both scored in the fifth inning on a Yoelkis Guibert’s single that extended Cuba’s lead to 4-1. That ended up being the difference-maker against Australia as Cuba held on to win 4-3 to advance to the semifinals.
Robert drove in Cuba’s first run against Australia with a ground out in the third inning, tying the game at one after Moncada doubled to put runners on second and third with nobody out.
Moncada has especially been on fire following Cuba’s second game in the tournament. He started 0-for-8, with two strikeouts and one walk. Since then, Moncada is 8-for-11, with a home run, three doubles, five RBI, three runs scored and three walks while only striking out once.
0-3, BB vs. Netherlands
0-5, 2 K vs. Italy
3-5, 4 RBI 1 2B, 1 BB vs. Panama
3-4, 1 HR, 1 2B, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 K vs. Chinese Taipei
2-2, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 BB vs. Australia
Cuba will have a few days off before playing in the semifinals on Sunday in Miami. Cuba will play the winner of Venezuela vs. the second place team in Group C that includes Mexico, Colombia, Canada and the United States.
If you look around this year’s World Baseball Classic, it’s not just the two White Sox on Team Cuba who are doing great things, as Tim Anderson and Eloy Jiménez have been fantastic for the United States and the Dominican Republic, respectively.
Anderson wasn’t in the starting lineup for Team USA’s first game against Great Britain, but he was the shortstop against Mexico and then started at second base against Canada. In those two games Anderson went 4-for-7, with a triple, double, four RBI and two runs scored.
The United States will advance to the quarterfinals with a win over Colombia Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, Jiménez has been starting in right field for the Dominican Republic the last two games and he’s been contributing in the middle of the star-studded lineup. The big right-handed hitter is also 4-for-7, with two RBI against Nicaragua and Israel, respectively.
The Dominican Republic will play against Puerto Rico Wednesday night. The winner will advance to the quarterfinals as the second team of Group D.
And hey, let’s not forget about José Ruiz. The right-handed pitcher for the White Sox has thrown 2.2 scoreless innings for Venezuela, striking out three in two appearances.
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