After 21 Olympic games, the mighty Cubans finally struck out.
Cuba took its first Olympic baseball loss today, shut down by a Netherlands team that had never experienced such a moment. Hensley Meulens’ bases-loaded double drove in three runs and the Netherlands held on for a 4-2 victory.
It was a watershed in Olympic baseball history. Cuba (3-1) had breezed through the first two official tournaments, winning the gold in Barcelona and Atlanta while going unbeaten.
A team spiced with a few former major leaguers and managed by Arizona State Coach Pat Murphy finally took them down in front of a crowd pulling for the upset.
Ken Brauckmiller held the Olympics’ top lineup to seven hits in eight innings, leaving to a standing ovation after Miguel Caldes reached on a throwing error to open the ninth.
The Cubans were undone by one inning climaxed by a former major leaguer who wears weird-looking sunglasses and is known as “Bam Bam.”
Meulens, who got the nickname as a minor league prospect in the 1980s, doubled to left off reliever Maels Rodriguez for a 4-1 lead in the fourth, stunning the Cubans.
Cuba 6, South Korea 5--The Cubans had survived one close call the night before, rallying from a four-run deficit on Juan Manrique’s tiebreaking homer in the eighth.
Korea (1-2) stunned the Cubans by pulling ahead 4-0 after four innings. The Cubans’ high-powered offense, which came into the game batting .467, managed only two hits in the first five innings off Kim Soo-kyung.
The Cubans sent 10 batters to the plate for five runs in a fist-pumping sixth inning that started with walks to Omar Linares and Orestes Kindelan, the heart of their order. Antonio Pacheco drove both of them home with a double.
Japan 6, Italy 1--Japan had 12 hits, three by first baseman Yukio Tanaka, to improve to 3-1.