Given the start times Cuba has had through pools and quarterfinals of the World Baseball Classic, baseball fans could be forgiven for not being sure about how it got here.
Cuba started out 0-2 in Pool A, and it looked so bad early on there was talk of relegating the popular baseball power. From there, however, Cuba won its next two games and Pool A entered into a five-way tiebreaker, with Cuba coming out on top. Then, Cuba defeated Australia in the quarterfinals in Tokyo to advance to the semifinals in Miami.
The Cuban team, which has MLB players representing it for the first time, is led by the likes of Yoán Moncada and Luis Robert.
It’s a far cry from the team that made the finals in the inaugural 2006 World Baseball Classic, which was represented by players such as Pedro Luis Lazo, Eduardo Paret, and Yoandy Garlobo.
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Has Cuba won the World Baseball Classic?
Despite making it to the WBC final in 2006, Cuba has never won the WBC.
The team hit a wall after 2006, and was unable to make it out of the second round for the next three Classics. Part of that was other rosters getting better, which acted in conjunction with Cuba’s talent drain as more players defected to play professional baseball elsewhere.
Cuba, however, is looking to make a gold medal game return this year behind its most geopolitically diverse roster ever.
When is the last time the Cuba made the World Baseball Classic final?
Cuba last made the World Baseball Classic in 2006, when it played its pools in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Cuban team shared a pool with Puerto Rico, the Netherlands, and Panama, posting a 2-1 record that was good for second in Pool C. Puerto Rico went 3-0 in pools, and dominated Cuba 12-2 in the process.
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Even so, Cuba made it out into Pool 2, the second round, alongside the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico. It went 2-1 in Pool 2, finishing second in the pool behind the D.R., good enough to make it to the championship round of four. In the semifinals, Cuba defeated the Dominican Republic 3-1 to get to the finals to play Japan.
Cuba would lose 10-6 to Japan in Petco Park, with Daisuke Matsuzaka giving up one run in four innings of work. Despite a spirited final four innings, a four-run ninth for Japan would ultimately be the nail in the coffin for Cuba, which had to settle for silver at the WBC.
Cuba World Baseball Classic gold medal appearances
Cuba has one WBC gold medal game appearance, and an 0-1 record.
Its only appearance came in 2006, when it lost 10-6 to Japan.
Here’s a look at Cuba’s WBC finals history.
|2006||Japan||Japan (10-6)||Daisuke Matsuzaka|