USA completely dismantles Cuba 14-2 in the WBC semifinal thanks to Trea Turner’s two sensational home runs and sets up a final clash against Mexico or Japan to defend their crown
The defending champion United States defeated Cuba 14-2 on Sunday night to reach its second straight World Baseball Classic final.
Trea Turner homered twice to give him a tournament-leading four, including a three-run homer to propel the US into a chance to defend its crown.
Paul Goldschmidt and Cedric Mullins also homered for the Americans, who scored in seven of eight innings, putting up lopsided numbers in five of them. Turner and Goldschmidt each had four RBIs.
The United States plays either Japan or Mexico in Tuesday night’s championship, trying to join the Samurai Warriors as the only nations to win the title twice.
Turner, batting at No. 9 in the batting order, has a tournament-leading 10 RBI. He followed up his go-ahead eighth-inning grand slam a night earlier against Venezuela with a second-inning solo shot off Roenis Elias (0-1) and a three-run drive in the sixth against Elián Leyva.
Defending WBC champion USA beat Cuba 14-2 on Sunday night
Trea Turner hit two home runs to give him a tournament-leading four during the win
Paul Goldschmidt also homered for the Americans, who scored in seven of eight innings.
Cuba took the lead when their first four batters reached Adam Wainwright (2-0) without taking an infield ball. The 41-year-old right-hander rallied to leave the bases loaded, and the US offense pummeled the Cuban pitchers with 14 hits, including eight extra-base hits. The United States received seven walks.
Goldschmidt hit a two-run home run in the first on a 112-mph rocket high over the left-field wall. He added a two-run single in the fifth.
St. Louis third baseman Nolan Arenado left after a pitch hit him on the hand in the fifth inning, briefly raising another injury concern before X-rays came back negative. Mets closer Edwin Díaz suffered a season-ending knee injury during the celebration that followed Puerto Rico’s victory on Wednesday and Houston second baseman José Altuve fractured his thumb while being hit by a pitch while playing for Venezuela on Saturday.
Fans in the sellout crowd of 35,779 at LoanDepot Park seemed evenly split between the US and Cuba. Several hundred people gathered before the game outside the baseball stadium in the Little Havana section of Miami to protest the presence of the Cuban team, whose island has been under communist rule since 1959.
Play was briefly interrupted in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings as fans rushed onto the field. The first held a banner that read ‘Freedom for the Cuban Prisoners of July 11’, alluding to the date of the 2021 demonstrations.
Cuban fans roared at first as their team’s first four batters delivered three infield hits and a bases-loaded walk by Wainwright, who added to their early woes when he missed a couple of ground balls. Wainwright allowed one run and five hits in four innings. Cardinals teammate Miles Mikolas pitched the last five innings.
American catcher Will Smith retired Cuban third baseman Yoan Moncada at home plate in the first
Turner hit a solo home run in the second off Roenis Elias (above) before a three-run drive
Play was briefly interrupted in the sixth, seventh, and eighth as fans rushed onto the field.
There were protests outside the stadium before the match against the Cuban team
An Olympic gold medalist in 1992, 1996 and 2004, Cuba’s national team has struggled in recent years as many of the best players left for the MLB. Cuba failed to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Cuba for the first time this year is using some players under contract from MLB clubs, including Chicago White Gold Glove center fielder Luis Robert and third baseman Yoán Moncada. Former All-Star outfielder Yoenis Céspedes is also on the list.
“It’s a dream for us to mix these players,” manager Armando Johnson said. “We want these players to join us in any championship.”
Cuba and the USA met for the first time in the WBC. In the 2008 Olympics, which did not feature active major leagues, Cuba beat manager Davey Johnson’s Americans 5-4 in 11 innings en route to a silver medal. The United States took the bronze.