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2023 World Baseball Classic Day 13: USA slugs way into championship game

The American offense was firing on all cylinders in Sunday’s semifinal against Cuba.

Baseball: World Baseball Classic - Semifinal Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

There wasn’t much time for Team USA to celebrate their remarkable win over Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic quarterfinals on Saturday, as they were back in action the very next night. Waiting for them was a Cuba ballclub that had a couple days off after their quarterfinal victory over Australia. However, Cuba also had to make the trek from Tokyo down to Miami in the process.

With a spot in the championship game on the line, let’s look back at yesterday’s WBC action.

Semifinal #1: USA (5-1) 14, Cuba (3-3) 2

The book on this US team has been that they have a ridiculous lineup, but aren’t the strongest on the pitching side of things. They certainly showed that the lineup half of that was accurate on Sunday night.

However before all the fireworks started, Cuba had a real chance to take advantage of the shaky pitching before the US lineup even came to the plate. Facing Adam Wainwright, Cuba had their first four runners reach base, with Alfredo Despaigne drawing a bases loaded walk to plate a run. Despite a lead, the bases loaded, and still nobody out, Cuba couldn’t plate another run, as a force out at home and a double play squandered their chance for more.

Said powerful US lineup then quickly got things going in their favor in the bottom of the first. Two batters after Mookie Betts led off with a single, Paul Goldschmidt went deep to put the States ahead.

The American offense didn’t stop there. Trea Turner added to his heroics from Saturday night by adding a solo shot in the second. Two more came in the third inning thanks to a RBI single from Pete Alonso and a Tim Anderson sacrifice fly.

Wainwright settled down after the first inning, and ended up making it through four innings with that the only real blemish on his day. Meanwhile, Nolan Arenado hit an RBI triple and then scored on a wild pitch in the fourth, giving the US even more breathing room before they went to the bullpen.

Cuba picked up one run of Miles Mikolas in the fifth, but that was quickly erased by two more US runs in the bottom half of the inning. One negative for the States in the fifth was Arenado getting hit on the hand with a pitch. The X-rays were negative, but Arenado did have to leave the game.

However that setback didn’t stop the offensive output from the Americans. Turner added to his big weekend with yet another home run — this time a three-run shot.

Trout got in on the action with an RBI single shortly after that. In the eighth inning, Cedric Mullins added one last run for the road, homering to create the football-ish final score. Mikolas ended up going four innings, and Aaron Loup came on to finish things off in the ninth. On a Yankees’ note, Kyle Higashioka came in to catch in the ninth.

Cuba finished the game with 12 hits, so it’s not as if they didn’t have their chances. They just didn’t covert them at remotely same rate the US did. All but one US started recorded a hit, with Betts and Turner each having three-hit games.

In the final the US will have to take on either a talented Japan team or Mexico — who has already beaten them in this tournament. Either one would be an interesting matchup, but if they hit like they have in the past two games, the US will be very difficult to beat.

Today at the WBC:

Semifinal #2

Japan vs. Mexico
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST
Venue: loanDepot Park, Miami, Florida, USA