It’s Cuba day…..we think. As of last night, the Cuban team had yet to arrive in Veracruz (EDIT: They are here — Game on). They were having some travel difficulties following Ike’s visit to the island last week. We were fortunate to get out ahead of Ike’s supposed onslaught of Miami – which, fortunately for south Florida, never really transpired as predicted – but they were not, evidently.
Cuba should have arrived on Thursday but they didn’t and as of Saturday night I’m not quite sure if they ever got here. The schedule was rearranged giving them their off day on Friday and then they missed their game against Puerto Rico on Saturday. I’m assuming we’ll get them tonight, but they’re going to have to play a double-header at some point to make up their missed games, as well as play on the tournament-wide off day on Wednesday.
We haven’t had a chance to scout them as a result of their absence thus far, which is disappointing, but certainly not too critical. We know they’ll be good and we know they’ll throw their ace at us. We’ll be ready to do the same.
There’s just a different feel to USA-Cuba games than to any others. Every game in this tournament is crucial due to the round robin format, but you can’t help but get just a little more excited to play our biggest rival in the sport. We’ve had some good fortune against them the last two years; beating them in both 2006 and 2007 in comeback fashion. Hopefully we don’t have to come back this time.
It’ll help our cause if we can have some innings like the third inning against Panama. After the first batter struck out – the 7th K of our first 7 outs – 13 straight guys reached base and 12 of those scored. Back-to-Back homers by the same two guys (Bryce and J-Rod) twice in the inning was pretty incredible. We’ll have to ask Elias how many times that’s happened before. I’m gonna guess not too many.
Cody Buckel pitched a great 5 innings for us. He started off a little rough, and I’m sure that had to do with the bundle of nerves everybody was saddled with at the beginning of their first game in a week since the last trials game. And when I say rough, I mean that he actually allowed runners. Nobody hit the ball out of the infield against him, and the play ruled a hit in the first inning could actually have been ruled a fielder’s choice which would have given him a 5-inning no-hitter.
We’ll play some teams a lot better than Panama and it starts with Cuba today and then Puerto Rico the next day. We’re deep and ready. And we’re fueled by McDonald’s, which I bribed the players with if they run-ruled Panama. They took care of business and earned some McFlurry’s on top of their combo meals. If that’s what it takes, then we’ll be headed to McDonald’s a couple more times.