HAVANA TIMES — Team Cuba began its Asian tune-up tour on Saturday dropping the opener 2-1 against a professional Taiwanese all-star squad, reported baseballdecuba.com.
Cuba’s manager Victor Mesa made a surprise last minute change starting Yadier Pedroso instead of the previously announced Freddy Asiel Alvarez.
Pedroso, who had been suffering from pains in this throwing arm, didn’t make it past the beginning of the second inning, charged with the two runs that proved the difference.
However, it was the effective Taiwan pitching and the silenced Cuban bats that told the tale. The Cubans managed only six hits while fanning nine times.
After Taiwan took a two-run lead in the second, Cuba scored its only run in the fourth on a double by Alfredo Despaigne, single by Jose Dariel Abreu and an RBI grounder by Ariel Pestano.
The third Cuban hurler, Ismel Jimenez, pitched a brilliant five innings of one hit, five strikeout relief holding the Taiwan advantage to one-run that proved impossible to overcome.
Cuba did have several scoring opportunities nixed in part by the silenced bats in the heart of the lineup. The threesome, Gourriel, Cepeda and Despaigne went 1-for-9 with four strike outs between them.
In both the eighth and ninth innings Cuba had runners on second with one out but could not produce.
Game two is taking place on Sunday afternoon in Taiwan.