In a matter of hours, the fifth World Baseball Classic will begin when Cuba and the Netherlands face each other at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium. In a rematch clash, the Antilleans will try to erase recent history before their heated rival.
Their last matchup was in the 2017 World Classic when Holland defeated the multi-time Olympic and world champions by a score of 14-1, in 2013 the story was not different either, as they were victimized once again and eliminated from the tournament by scores 6-2 and 7-6.
Although Cuba leads the all-time series against the Netherlands, Cuba has suffered nine defeats in their last 14 games against the orange machine, the last victory for the islanders was November 11, 2015 (6-5) during the first edition of the Premier 12. In the World Classic, the only Cuban victory against Holland took place at the Hiram Bithorn in San Juan, Puerto Rico during the tournament’s first edition, when the Dutch were beaten 11-2.
Today Cuba will depend on Camagüey’s Yariel Rodríguez, who will have on his shoulders the responsibility of dominating a Dutch lineup full of hitters with experience in the best baseball in the world. According to statements by Pedro Luis Lazo to the Cuban press, after Yariel Rodríguez, Onelki García, Miguel Romero, Livan Moinelo and Raidel Martínez should see action. For their part, the Netherlands will rely on 26-year-old right-hander Tom de Blok to start the contest.
After Andy Ibáñez’s injury, Yadil Mujica from Matanzas will start at second base, the rest of the lineup remains as plann:
1. Roel Santos (RF)
2. Yoan Moncada (3B)
3. Luis Robert Jr. (CF)
4. Alfredo Despaigne (DH)
5. Yoenis Céspedes (LF)
6. Lorenzo Quintana (R)
7. Yadir Drake (1B)
8. Erisbel Arruebarruena (SS)
9. Yadil Mujica (2B)
The scene is set for Cuba to field its first team with players not only affiliated with MLB but also not associated with the Cuban Baseball Federation. The incorporation of these major leaguers have set the expectations of Cubans on the island and abroad very, anything less than a birth in the second round will be a major disappointment for the Antilleans.