Bjarkman: ‘Cuban Five’ enjoys historic All-Star Game appearance

From SABR member Peter C. Bjarkman at Baseball de Cuba on July 16, 2014:

It was more a case of historic Cuban presence than one of impactful Cuban performance, at least when it came to the All-Star Gala Game that actually counted. With five Cubans appearing for the first time in four-plus decades, and with Yoenis Céspedes walking off with a record-tying second straight Home Run Derby crown on Monday night, the stage seemed set for a memorable All-Star Game encore for fans on both sides of the Straits of Florida. In the end the 5-3 American League victory produced no slugging fireworks from Abreu, Céspedes or Puig (the one starter). Puig was the night’s biggest disappointment for fans in Havana, Miami and Los Angeles, Abreu and Céspedes had only limited opportunities which in the end they couldn’t convert, and eight Cuban at-bats produced only a single base knock. Nonetheless the night was not without a few spotlight moments provided by Aroldis Chapman (in a losing cause) out of the Senior Circuit bullpen and Alexei Ramirez (in a winning cause) off the Junior Circuit bench.

The night’s most memorable moment clearly came in the home half of the eighth frame when Cuban flame thrower Aroldis Chapman squared off against Cuban slugger Yoenis Céspedes, a scene that could only have been dreamt about back on their native island as little as only three or four years back. Such a confrontation had only happened once before (1967) and this time it ended quickly enough when Céspedes rapped Chapman’s second third delivery to shortstop for a bang-bang infield out.

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Originally published: July 16, 2014. Last Updated: July 16, 2014.