30th Haarlem Baseball Week | No medals for Cuba, the team suffers a 1-0 loss to Curacao
Right-hander Jordan Lucas threw a 1-0 shutout against Cuba, to eliminate the once international powerhouse from medal contention at the 30th edition of the Haarlem Baseball Week.
Unlike the American duo of Tanner Hall and Teddy McGraw, who pummeled Cuba with 11 strikeouts in Monday's 2-0 shutout, Lucas used breaking balls and changeups to dominate the entire Cuban lineup.
Lucas put out five of the seven leadoff hitters, and the contrast between his fastball (81-85 mph) and his changeup (65-68 mph) was key to eliminate Cuban hitters, allowing only four singles in the seven inning contest.
42-year old Frederich Cepeda went 2-for-3 in the game, and confirmed himself as the most consistent hitters in the team. The rest of the players went 2-for-20 and surprisingly manager Carlos Martí did not make any movements during the game.
Granma's 43-year-old veteran left-hander, Leandro Martínez, who started the game, was charged with the loss after completing seven innings of only six hits but did not receive any offensive support.
Leandro allowed only one run during his 93 pitches outing. It was in the top of the second inning, when Johannes Jr. Gregori doubled and Rayshelon Carolina led off the scoring with a single to rightfield with already two outs. Both hits came on two strikes, and Carolina's RBI was the Curaçao lineup's only hit with runners on base against Leandro. The team went 1-for-7 with RISP in the game
After averaging .174 (4-for-24) against right-handed Jordan Lucas, the Cuban team's BA dropped to .194 (19-98) in the tournament, that also includes a poor .240 OBP and a .224 slugging. The team has only produced three extra-bases - three doubles - two of them by shortstop Alexander Ayala. It is clear that batting average doesn't always define a team's productivity, however, in this case, the team' slump clearly demonstrates the lack of preparation and the terrible state in which most hitters are.
The core of the lineup: Alexander Ayala, Frederich Cepeda and Dennis Laza, have 11-for-33 (.333) combined but with just one RBI and eight strikeouts. What about the rest of the lineup? They're hitting .123 (8-for-65) with 18 strikeouts—15 of them with a no-contact swing— and just two walks.
Yes, but that is not the worst part of the terrible slump of the Cuban team in the tournament. Cuba has scored runs in just two of the 28 innings they have played during this Haarlem Baseball Week. The bottom of the lineup: Carlos Benítez, Iván Prieto and Alexquemer Sánchez, batting seventh, eighth and ninth, are 2-for-29 with 10 strikeouts and 17 runners left on base.
Playing like this is impossible to win baseball games. What is most disconcerting is that this has not been Cuba's only losing streak in Haarlem. In fact, after the four setbacks in this tournament, the Cuban teams have seen their streak extended to nine losses, since their previous presentation in the tournament in 2018, when Cuba finished the Opening Round with a 0-5 record:
1. July 14, 2018: 5-4 against Germany
2. July 15, 2018: 7-1 against Japan
3. July 16, 2018: 7-3 against Italy
4. July 17, 2018: 6-4 against Netherlands
5. July 19, 2018: 12x2 against China Taipei
Trying to stop that losing streak Cuba will close out the pool play portion of Haarlem Baseball Week at 12:00 p.m. local/6:00 a.m. (Havana and US Eastern Time) on Wednesday when it takes on Italy at Pim Mulier Stadium.