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.