Japan Still Cuba’s Baseball Nemesis


Catcher Ginjiro Sumitani’s solo homer made the difference. Photo: Baseballdecuba.com

HAVANA TIMES — It was only an exhibition game but the numbers weren’t good for Team Cuba. Japan’s hurlers continued their domination of Cuban batters with a 2-0 win in Fukuoka on Friday night.

The shutout extended the scoreless string to 31 innings against top rate Japanese pitching, reported Ray Otero for Baseballdecuba.com.

Cuba managed just three hits to Japan’s six.

Catcher Ginjiro Sumitani belted a Yadier Pedroso fastball in the bottom of the second and the solo homer proved enough to win.

Japan added an unearned run in the seventh on a double by Katsuya Kakunada and an error by rookie second baseman Jose Miguel Fernández on a groundball by Hirokazu Ibata.

Starter Kenji Otanari, the winning pitcher, and four relievers kept the Cubans at bay.

Cuba’s best scoring possibility came with runners on first and second but with two outs in the fifth, after hits by Alexei Bell and Frederich Cepeda. However Ariel Pestano flied out to right to end the inning.

The two-game exhibition series, the other to be played on Sunday, is a preparation for both teams for the March 2013 World Baseball Classic III.

Team Cuba will play its first round and possibly second round games in Japan. If it makes it to the semifinals that game and the finals would be played in the USA.

Before heading to Japan, Cuba took two of three exhibition games in Taiwan.

Japan is the defending champion of both the first and second World Baseball Classic tournaments.