Japan defeats Cuba in first round WBC play

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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.

O’Day retires following 15 seasons for 6 major league teams

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ATLANTA (AP) Right-hander Darren O'Day, who posted a 4.15 ERA in 28 games with the Atlanta Braves in 2022, announced Monday he is retiring after 15 seasons for six teams in the major leagues.

O’Day said on his Twitter account “it’s finally time to hang ’em up.”

“The mental, physical and time demands have finally outweighed my love for the game,” O’Day said.

O’Day, 40, featured an unconventional sidearm delivery. He was 42-21 with a 2.59 ERA in 644 games, all in relief. He made his major league debut in 2008 with the Angels and pitched seven seasons, from 2012-18, for the Baltimore Orioles.

He posted a 4.43 ERA in 30 postseason games, including the 2010 World Series with the Texas Rangers.

O’Day also pitched for the New York Mets and New York Yankees. He pitched for the Braves in 2019-20 before returning for his second stint with the team last season. He became a free agent following the season.

He set a career high with six saves for Baltimore in 2015, when he was 6-2 with a 1.52 ERA and was an AL All-Star.