While it wasn’t a great night for Cuba, 19-year-old right fielder Yoelkis Cespedes made an impressive World Baseball Classic debut
Japan manager Hiroki Kokubu was concerned his team would feel nervous in Tuesday night’s World Baseball Classic opener. The nerves went away fast.
Japan took an early lead, broke the game open with a five-run fifth inning and held on for an 11-6 win over Cuba to thrill a sellout crowd at Tokyo Dome. Nobuhiro Matsuda led the way with four hits, including a three-run home run.
The team known here as Samurai Japan has reached the semifinals each of the first three times the tournament has been played, winning the championship in both 2006 and ’09. The Japanese were disappointed by their semifinal loss to Puerto Rico in 2013, and Kokubu wanted a strong showing in Tuesday’s opener to set his team on track to reclaim the title this year.
Cuba figured to present Japan’s biggest challenge in Pool B, which also includes China and Australia. But the Cubans didn’t get enough pitching, and they fell behind 7-1 before Alfredo Despaigne’s solo home run sparked a three-run rally in the seventh inning. Japan survived the rally, and cleanup hitter Yoshitomo Tsutsugo responded with a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh.
While it wasn’t a great night for Cuba, 19-year-old right fielder Yoelkis Cespedes made an impressive World Baseball Classic debut. Cespedes, whose older half-brother Yoenis plays for the Mets, doubled and scored Cuba’s first run in the third inning, then singled in the seventh and again in the ninth.
Taken from https://www.worldbaseballclassic.com/