30/08/2013 - 08/09/2013

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XXVI U-18 Baseball World Cup 2013 - Official Payoff

Cuban players Arozarena, Yuli Gurriel, Chapman part of MLB postseason storyline

Cuban players Arozarena, Yuli Gurriel, Chapman part of MLB postseason storyline
12/10/2020
They had the spotlight in the American League Division and Championship Series, with changing fortunes.

The Major League Baseball (MLB) opening game of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) saw a couple of Cuban international baseball stars perform in key moments.

Randy Arozarena (pictured above) helped Cuba earn a bronze medal at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2013 in Taichung, Taiwan. He played third base and led off the third-place game against Chinese Taipei. Arozarena finished the tournament with six hits over 20 at-bats.

Arozarena, a 25-year old who now plays the outfield, missed the first five weeks of the 2020 season when he fell to COVID-19. He was called up to the MLB roster only on 30 August.

Arozarena was the designated hitter during Game one of the ALCS. He faced Framber Valdez, the starter for the Houston Astros, with the bases empty in the bottom of the fourth. Arozarena looked at a ball, went down by two strikes and, after fouling off a couple of pitches, went deep on the sixth offering and tied the game.

Tampa Bay got the lead in the fifth. In the top of the eighth, Tampa Bay sent reliever Diego Castillo to the mound with the bases loaded and one out. Houston's first baseman Yuli Gurriel stepped to the plate.

Gurriel is a 36-year old veteran who helped Houston win the 2017 World Series. He also played (2014, 2015) for the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) Yokohama DeNa BayStars.
He has starred for Cuba at the international level. Gurriel helped Cuba win a gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He was part of the teams that won the 2003, 2005 IBAF World Cups and 2003, 2007 Pan-American Games. He also participated in three editions (earning a silver medal in 2006) of the World Baseball Classic and in the inaugural WBSC Premier12.

Gurriel wasted no time and went after Castillo's first pitch. He hit a hard grounder up the middle and shortstop Carlos Correa started an inning-ending double play. The Tampa Bay Rays won the game 2-1.

The Tampa Bay Rays earned their spot in the ALCS winning, 3-2, the five-game Division Series against the New York Yankees. Rookie infielder Michael Brosseau hit the tie-breaking home run off left-hander Aroldis Chapman, who represented Cuba at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2006, the IBAF World Cup 2007 and the World Baseball Classic 2009.
Chapman, a six-time MLB All-Star, helped the Chicago Cubs win the 2016 World Series.