Looks like there's a light fog at the stadium.
Here are the starting line-ups:
JAPAN CUBA RF Suzuki 2B Olivera SS Nakajima DH Enriquez LF Aoki 3B Gourriel DH Inaba LF Cepeda 3B Murata CF Cespedes 1B Ogasawara RF Despaigne CF Fukudome 1B Anderson C Johjima C Pestano 2B Iwamura SS Paret SP Iwakuma SP Maya
Nice to see Nakajima finally back in the line-up. Here's to hoping Ichiro is able to turn things around today. And Cepeda is batting clean-up for Cuba, just as expected.
Top of the First
Ichiro continues to struggle -- he hit a weak grounder to second to start the game. And it looked like Nakajima wanted to attack the zone and swung at the first offering from Maya.
Aoki getting picked off at first after a single wasn't exactly the way you want to end the inning.
Bottom of the First
Three ground ball outs that inning for Iwakuma -- exactly what you want to see from him. He also did a nice job against Cepeda, going outside, then inside, and then outside again for a tapper back to the mound.
8 pitches (7 strikes) for Kuma that inning.
Top of the Second
Three up, three down for Japan.
Bottom of the Second
Three more ground ball outs for Iwakuma. The double by Anderson was on a slider away.
9 pitches (7 strikes) for Kuma that inning.
Top of the Third
I'm starting to get a little tired of Ichiro hitting weak grounders. He also looks like he's out in front a lot -- looks like he's pressing to get a hit. Hara really should have thought about benching him during the practice games. Or maybe do something more daring like benching him against Korea to start the game.
Ichiro: 0-for-11 in the second round
Bottom of the Third
Two more ground ball outs (and a strike out) for Iwakuma.
11 pitches (7 strikes) for Kuma in that inning. He has thrown a total 28 pitches (21 strikes) over the first three innings.
Top of the Fourth
A very nice inning for Japan that started with a single by Aoki and a double by Inaba. Murata flied out to shallow center for the second out of the inning but Ogasawara managed to pick him up by lofting a fly ball to deep center that Cespedes couldn't handle.
There was a pitching change after that, then a walk to Fukudome, a balk, and then Johjima popped out to second to end the inning.
Bottom of the Fourth
It was important for Japan to keep Cuba off the board this inning. Ideally, a 1-2-3 inning would have been best, but Iwakuma got a little too fine with his control against Cespedes and walked him on four pitches after getting 2 ground ball outs. He then surrendered a single to Despaigne. But he bore down and got Anderson to strike out swinging.
17 pitches (10 strikes) that inning for Iwakuma.
Top of the Fifth
Aoki is doing a great job picking up the slack tonight. He is now 3-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.
Ichiro continues to struggle and is now 0-for-3 tonight.
Bottom of the Fifth
Iwakuma continues to get ground ball outs. His pitches are definitely working for him tonight.
12 pitches (8 strikes) that inning.
Top of the Sixth
1-2-3 inning. But Japan made Jimenez throw 22 pitches that inning (2 tough ABs by Ogasawara and Johjima).
Bottom of the Sixth
Another very strong inning by Iwakuma, despite giving up another hit after 2 outs. 3 ground ball outs that inning.
12 pitches (8 strikes) that inning. 69 pitches (47 strikes) overall.
Top of the Seventh
Ichiro finally gets a hit. If this means Ichiro is finally turning a corner, that could mean very good things for Japan. If he gets another turn at the plate, it'll be interesting to see how he attacks the ball.
Nakajima did a nice job plating Iwamura with a sac fly to right. He did exactly what was needed, no more, no less.
Bottom of the Seventh
Great night for Iwakuma.
Final line on Iwakuma:
6.0 IP, 24 BF, 5 H, 1 BB, 2 SO, 0 ER, 14 GO, 2 FO, 69 pitches (47 strikes)
Incidentally, Kuma did a nice job keeping Cepeda off the bases (0-for-3).
Sugiuchi (Iwakuma's replacement) did a nice job in relief, getting 2 strike outs and a fly out to left. Cuba also sent three pinch hitters (all righties) to the plate in the inning.
Top of the Eighth
It seemed like Japan might have something going (2 consecutive walks with only 1 out), but a failed double steal took the momentum out of the inning. Johjima then popped out to first to end the inning.
Bottom of the Eighth
A very solid outing for Sugiuchi. Back-to-back 1-2-3 innings. My guess is that this was his last inning though.
Top of the Ninth
Japan manages to plate a very important 5th run after Ichiro got things started with a 1-out triple. Aoki followed through nicely with the RBI single.
Bottom of the Ninth
A quick 1-2-3 inning for Sugiuchi. Very solid outing for him.
His final line:
3.0 IP, 9 BF, 0 H, 0 BB, 4 SO, 0 ER, 0 GO, 5 FO, 32 pitches (21 strikes)
Going back to the first match-up, Japan managed to shut-down Cuba's powerful line-up over 18 innings.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E JPN 0 0 0 2 1 0 1 0 1 5 8 0 CUB 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 1