Japan and Cuba faced off today in World Baseball Classic play in the Tokyo Dome. The home team won, 11-6, thanks in part to a five-run fifth inning.
Nobuhiro Matsuda, an 11-year veteran of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, led the way with four hits, including a three-run home run. Cuba’s Alfredo Despaigne’s hit a homer in the seventh inning which led to a three-run rally, but they were already down 7-1 at the time. What’s more, that rally was mostly negated in the bottom half of the inning when Japan’s Yoshitomo Tsutsugo hit a two-run home run.
The bright spot for Cuba: Yoelkis Cespedes, half-brother of Yoenis Cespedes, doubled and scored in the third inning and added a couple of singles later. The bright spot for Japan: Cuba is easily its biggest challenge in the first round, with their pool containing Australia and China.
Japan has won the WBC twice. They’re starting off strong once again.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.