Cary — The last time Carlos Rodon took the mound at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, he had arguably the best start of his career, throwing 10 innings of one-hit ball against the rival North Carolina Tar Heels.
Rodon will again take the hill in Durham, but this time he will wear the stars and stripes of the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team as they play the Cuban National Team on Tuesday night.
While Team USA is made up of all players who are 20 years and younger, the Cuban National Team is made up of the best professional players in Cuba, some of whom are over 30 years old. Nine of the players on Cubas roster played for the 2013 Wold Baseball Classic Team.
While Team USA is made up entirely of collegiate players, Rodon points to MLB players such as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper as people in his age group who have had success at the professional level. Rodon believes that many of the players on Team USA would be in the Class AA or Class AAA level.
Theyve played the game longer than us, so obviously they understand it way better than we do, Rodon said. Im sure they have a real good approach as to how theyre going to face each pitcher. That just comes with experience.
In his last outing, Rodon threw 3 1/3 innings of shutout ball against Cuba. Rodon said during that appearance he learned some of Cubas tendencies such as looking for the fastball and being aggressive by swinging early in the count.
Its just like any other game, Rodon said. You go out there and you just try and win it for your team, and thats what Im going to try to do.
Team USA knocks off Cuba
Team USA won its sixth straight game on Monday with a 3-2 win over Cuba. The win is Team USAs fourth straight in its five game series with Cuba, with each game decided by one run. In the last two years, the teams have played one-run games in eight of nine contests.
The Cuban National Team jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the third when Irait Chirino and Jose M. Fernandez drove in runs for Team Cuba.
Cuba took a no-hitter into the fifth, but after back-to-back walks to North Carolinas Skye Bolt and N.C. States Trea Turner, Alex Bregman laced a triple to right-center plating both Bolt and Turner. Bregman put Team USA on top, scoring on a past ball later that inning.
Although Cuba outhit Team USA 8-3, Cuba was plagued by the double-play ball early in the game, hitting into three double plays in the first five innings to end rallies.
The Team USA bullpen shut down the Cuban offense late in the game, limiting Cuba to just two hits in the games final five innings.
Curfew in place for game
USA Baseball officials said because the Cuban National Team has an early morning flight out of Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, there is a curfew for Tuesdays game in Durham. Officials said no innings can start after 10:05 p.m.
Mondays game clocked in at 3 hours and 29 minutes, and 10:05 p.m. came in the top of the eight inning. If Tuesdays game moves at an equally slow pace, all nine innings may not be played.