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WBC: Japan at Cuba – Japan beats Cuba, 5-0

by on Mar.18, 2009 @ 10:51 pm, under WBC

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

39 comments on “WBC: Japan at Cuba – Japan beats Cuba, 5-0

  1. Gwynar

    Ichiro is now 0-for-10 in the second round.

    UPDATE 1: Aoki dunks a single in front of the center fielder with 2 out.

    UPDATE 2: Aoki picked off first to end the inning.

  2. Gwynar

    The fog looks pretty thick out there…

    It’s also wreaking havoc with the digital ads behind home plate.

  3. Gwynar

    Fukudome hasn’t really looked good at the plate. He has struck out 6 times in 15 ABs.

    UPDATE 1: Fukudome weakly flies out to left.

    UPDATE 2: Iwamura gets on with 2 out. Ichiro up to bat.

    UPDATE 3: Ichiro taps out to short for the final out of the inning.

  4. knucklehead7

    A one-two-three inning for Iwakuma in the bottom of the third. He’s thrown 28 pitches so far, 21 of them for strikes.

  5. Gwynar

    Aoki singles up the middle with 1 out.

    UPDATE 1: Inaba rockets a double to left, runners on second and third with 1 out. Murata now up to bat.

    UPDATE 2: Murata swings at the first pitch and flies out to shallow center.

    UPDATE 3: Woo-hoo! Ogasawara drills one to deep center and Cespedes couldn’t hang on. 2 runs score. Japan has a 2-run lead.

    UPDATE 4: Pitching change – Gonzalez in for Maya. Fukudome walks. Runners on first and second with 2 outs.

    UPDATE 5: Balk. Runners on second and third with 2 outs.

    UPDATE 6: Johjima pops out to second for the final out of the inning.

  6. Gwynar
    Originally Posted by knucklehead7;bt2719

    Nice to see Ogasawara come through there with a two-out double to drive in two runs.

    I think that ended up being scored an error, no?

    Still, very nice to see him come through.

  7. knucklehead7
    Originally Posted by Gwynar;bt2720

    I think that ended up being scored an error, no?

    Still, very nice to see him come through.

    Yeah, it’s been ruled an error on Cespedes. I’m following on Gameday and they initially reported it as a double.

  8. Gwynar

    Looks like Pestano is laying into Gonzalez in the dugout. I wonder if they crossed up signs or something.

  9. Gwynar

    Cuba’s got runners on the corners after a walk to Cespedes (on four pitches) and a single to center by Despaigne. 2 outs.

    UPDATE 1: Anderson is doing a nice job staying alive at the plate.

  10. Gwynar

    Iwamura works out a walk to lead off the 5th. Ichiro now up to bat. He’s 0-for-2 so far today.

    UPDATE 1: Ichiro tries to bunt but hits it up into the air. Gourriel made a great play by catching it for the first out. Iwamura managed to get back to first, just in time.

    UPDATE 2: Very nice AB by Nakajima. He eeked out a 9-pitch walk after fouling off three straight pitches to stay alive. Pitching change by Cuba.

    UPDATE 3: Aoki comes through with a single up the middle. Iwamura scored from second and did a nice job avoiding a tag a home. Japan is now up 3-0.

  11. Gwynar

    Pestano still doesn’t appear very happy with Gonzalez. Looks like it has something to do with checking Iwamura at first.

  12. knucklehead7

    At the end of five, it’s 3-0 Japan. Iwakuma has thrown 57 pitches, 39 of them for strikes.

  13. Gwynar

    Cespedes with a 2-out triple.

    This is the third straight (5th overall) inning that Iwakuma has given up a hit after two outs.

  14. Gwynar

    Iwamura walks to begin the 6th. Iwamura is now 1-for-1 with 2 walks.

    Ichiro now up to bat.

    UPDATE 1: OMG, Ichiro gets a hit! Runners on first and third with no out.

    UPDATE 2: Nakajima with a sac fly to drive Iwamura in from third. Japan now up, 4-0. Good job by Nakajima.

    UPDATE 3: Aoki strikes out swinging.

  15. knucklehead7
    Originally Posted by Gwynar;bt2731

    You still holding up alright Mike?

    I’m getting a little tired, but I’m going to be able to make it through this game. I really want to see if Japan advances.

  16. Gwynar
    Originally Posted by knucklehead7;bt2734

    I’m getting a little tired, but I’m going to be able to make it through this game. I really want to see if Japan advances.

    Good. Because I’d hate to be the only one posting in here.

  17. Gwynar

    Ogasawara walks with 1 out. Kataoka comes in as a pinch-runner.

    UPDATE 1: Kataoka steals second.

    UPDATE 2: Fukudome walks (didn’t look like he knew it until the ump told him).

    UPDATE 3: Double steal, Kataoka thrown out at third.

  18. Gwynar

    Defensive changes (Japan): Kataoko goes to third, Murata takes over at first.

    UPDATE 1: Nice reaction play by Kataoka for the second out of the inning.

  19. Gwynar

    Ichiro is up to bat with 1 out. Let’s see what he does after that hit in his last AB.

    UPDATE 1: That’s the first solid AB I’ve seen from Ichiro in a long while — a nice strong liner over the centerfielder’s head for a triple.

    A very good sign.

    UPDATE 2: Nakajima is hit by a pitch. Runers on first and third with 1 out. Pitching change.

    UPDATE 3: Aoki comes through again with an RBI single through the right side (opened up with Nakajima on first and the first baseman holding him on). Japan now leads, 5-0.

  20. Gwynar

    Cepeda flies out to right, 1 out.

    UPDATE 1: Cespedes strikes out swinging, 2 out.

    UPDATE 2: Despaigne flies out to right to end the game.

    Japan WINS!

  21. knucklehead7

    Two straight shutout wins for Japan over Cuba. Sugiuchi came on in relief and pitched three innings without allowing a hit and striking out four.

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