World Classic: United States will be Cuba’s rival in semis

The table is already set. The United States will be Cuba’s rival in the first semifinal of the V World Baseball Classic, after defeating Venezuela 9-7 in an exciting game that was decided in the eighth inning by a huge bases-loaded home run by northern shortstop Trea Turner.

The boy, who recently signed a 300 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, was the undisputed hero of a crazy night at Miami’s LoanDepot Park, where the United States did not go down a path of roses.

The game, rather, was a constant exchange of blows in which the northerners came out ahead with three runs in the same opening episode, when they combined five hits with an error by Venezuela. However, the dark-haired, far from being intimidated, responded quickly with a two-run home run by Luis Arraez.

The movie tipped the hosts again on Mookie Betts’ sacrifice fly in the fourth inning and Kyle Tucker’s solo shot in the fifth, connections that made it 5-2. With that advantage, the United States entered its bullpen and everything went wrong.

Daniel Bard, fire extinguisher for the Colorado Rockies, gave away 2 tickets, hit 1 batter, committed 2 wild pitches and allowed 1 hit and 4 runs as first reliever. As if that were not enough, the right-hander took José Altuve out of the game with a 96-mile pitch that, according to various reports, broke a finger on his right hand.

Bard left the ranch burning and his place was taken by Jason Adam, who tried to quell the red wine rebellion without much success, because Salvador Pérez hit a double to drive in two runs and turn the score around 6-5.

The situation got even worse in the seventh, when Luis Arraez hit his second home run of the game, something he had never achieved in 389 MLB games.

At that point in the duel, the Venezuelan high command was not fine in managing their relief pitching, something that is paid very dearly against world-caliber artillery. The dark-haired could not defend a 2-run lead with only 6 outs left to complete their second trip to the semifinals in the history of the Classics.

In the eighth, mentor Omar López decided to open with José Quijada, who had already retired the seventh. The lefty walked Tim Anderson, allowed Pete Alonso’s first single in the Classic and hit JT Realmuto with a pitch to load the bases. Only in this emergency situation did the Venezuelan leadership opt to move its bullpen and they placed Silvino Bracho in front of Trea Turner.

Over-demanded, Bracho looked uncomfortable, to the point that in a count of 2 strikes without balls he served a meek changeup (85.5 miles) to Turner, who sent him a panoramic home run through left field at 407 feet. Four races in one stroke erased the income of Latinos and sank the hopes of the thousands of fans who filled the loanDepot with Venezuelan flags.

The impact was too strong and Omar López’s batch could not react. The relievers Devin Williams and Ryan Pressly were in charge of retiring eighth and ninth without major complications, thus sealing the second consecutive trip of the northerners to the semifinals of the World Classic, an instance in which they will collide against Cuba for the first time in the history of the event.

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