The Netherlands team is looking to finish the job after coming up short in the semifinals in each of the past two Classics. Cuba has advanced past the first round in all four Classics, but its 2006 championship game appearance was the last time it got out of the second round. This year’s tournament marks the first time in World Baseball Classic history that MLB players are eligible to play for Cuba.
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Here’s what you need to know about Tuesday’s matchup:
When and where: 11 p.m. ET at Taichung Stadium in Taiwan
How you can watch: The game between Cuba and the Netherlands is live at 11 p.m. ET on FS1. Games are available on FOX, FS1, FS2, Tubi or FOX Deportes, and every game can be streamed online in the FOX Sports App. For international viewing options, click here.
How you can listen: Live audio coverage of all games will be carried on Sirius XM, TuneIn, MLB.com and in the MLB App.
What’s at stake: The 20 teams have been placed in four pools of five teams each for the first round of the 2023 World Baseball Classic, with each team playing the others in its pool once and the teams with the two best records in each pool at the end of the round advancing to the knockout stage. Cuba and the Netherlands are part of Pool A with Chinese Taipei, Italy and Panama.
Matchup history: Cuba and the Netherlands have met four times in the World Baseball Classic, with the Netherlands winning three of the games. Cuba’s lone triumph came in the first round of the inaugural World Baseball Classic. Cuba advanced from Pool C along with Puerto Rico that year and went on to reach the championship game, losing to Japan.
In the 2013 Classic, the Netherlands defeated Cuba in the first game of the second round, and the two faced off a second time days later in an elimination game with a spot in the semifinals on the line. The Netherlands prevailed again, coming back from a two-run eighth-inning deficit to win, 7-6. The Netherlands notched a 14-1 win over Cuba when the two matched up in the second round of the 2017 Classic.
Key players to watch:
Luis Robert Jr. OF, Cuba: With MLB players eligible to play for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic for the first time, Robert and his White Sox teammate Yoán Moncada are among the biggest stars on the Cuban team. The dynamic 25-year-old has been limited by injuries during his three-year MLB career, but he has slashed .289/.334/.474 with 36 homers and 26 steals in 222 games.
Yoenis Céspedes, OF, Cuba: For the first time since 2009, Céspedes will suit up for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic. Now 37, the right-handed slugger was excellent in his lone Classic appearance, hitting .458 with two homers and a 1.480 OPS over six games. He began his MLB career with Oakland three years later and appeared in parts of eight seasons with the A’s, Red Sox, Tigers and Mets. The two-time Home Run Derby champion socked 165 dingers over 834 games as a Major Leaguer.
Xander Bogaerts SS, Netherlands: Bogaerts, who signed an 11-year, $280 million deal with the Padres in December after spending the first 10 years of his big league career with the Red Sox, also played for the Netherlands in the 2013 and 2017 Classics. The four-time All-Star owns a .396 on-base percentage in Classic play.
Wladimir Balentien, OF, Netherlands: Balentien is one of the top performers in the history of the World Baseball Classic, posting a .469 average with four homers, 17 RBIs and a 1.332 OPS over 14 games. The 38-year-old played three years in the Majors (2007-09) before putting together an excellent career in Japan that ended after the 2021 season. He went deep twice in the Netherlands’ 14-1 win over Cuba in the second round of the 2017 Classic.