Team USA smothers Cuba, advances to WBC championship game

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[March 20, 2023] 

MIAMI -- Trea Turner and Paul Goldschmidt combined to drive in eight runs, propelling the United States to a 14-2 win over Cuba in the World Baseball Classic semifinals on Sunday night.

Turner went 3-for-5 with two homers and four RBIs, while Goldschmidt went 2-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs.

USA advanced to compete for the title on Tuesday night, playing the winner of Monday's matchup between Mexico and Japan.

Team USA third baseman Nolan Arenado was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning, but X-rays on his right hand were negative.

American starter Adam Wainwright allowed just one run in four innings. He survived a poor start in which he allowed Cuba's first four batters to reach base.

Cuban starter Roenis Elias took the loss, allowing three runs in two innings.

The game marked the end of a wild WBC ride for Cuba, which traveled more than 9,000 miles to Taiwan, lost its first two contests, won its next two and prevailed in a five-way tiebreaker. From there, Cuba beat Australia in Tokyo and flew more than 7,000 miles to Miami to play Team USA.

Cuba got off to a great start on Sunday with three straight infield hits and an RBI walk by Alfredo Despaigne. But Wainwright got the next three batters to escape further damage. The key play was a grounder to Arenado, who got the force at the plate for the inning's first out.

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"There was a lot of stuff going on. I had to step off the mound. I had to realize that they weren't smacking me around," Wainwright said of his mindset during the first inning. "I was getting myself into situations that I didn't need to get myself into. I just needed to keep making pitches. I took a deep breath, and I reset."

USA took a 2-1 lead three batters into the bottom of the first as Mookie Betts doubled and Goldschmidt drilled a one-out, 407-foot homer to left.

Turner went even deeper -- 428 feet -- with his homer that gave that U.S. a 3-1 lead in the second.

USA loaded the bases with one out in the third as Arenado singled, Kyle Schwarber was hit by a pitch and Will Smith walked. Pete Alonso made it 4-1 with an RBI single, and Tim Anderson added a sacrifice fly.

In the fourth, Goldschmidt drew a two-out walk and scored from first on Arenado's triple. Arenado then scored on a Carlos Viera wild pitch to make it 7-1.

Cuba got to Team USA's bullpen in the fifth as White Sox star Yoan Moncada doubled and scored on Andy Ibanez's single.

But Goldschmidt's two-run single in the bottom of the fifth gave USA a 9-2 lead, and the Americans cruised from there.

--Walter Villa, Field Level Media

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