Two Surprises in World Baseball Classic

HAVANA TIMES, March 7 — There were two surprises Saturday in World Baseball Classic II as Japan pounded the Olympic champion Korea 14-2 and China upended Chinese Taipei 4-1. With the win Japan, which won the 2006 WBC, qualifies for the second round , while Korea will have to beat China to earn a ticket to San Diego.

Expected to be a pitching duel between Daisuke Matsuzaka of Japan and Korea’s Kwang Hyun Kim, the game couldn’t have been more one-sided. Kim gave up eight earned nuns in 1.1 innings before getting the hook. Matsuzaka gave up two in the first but then settled down to pitch the next three scoreless innings

Korea (1-1) plays China (1-1) on Sunday in a do-or-die match for both teams with the winner playing Japan (2-0) on Monday in a game to determine the leader among the two qualifying teams for Group A.

China has shown much improved pitching in its two games, losing 4-0 to Japan and now uspeting the eliminated Chinese Taipei (0-2).

Cuba wll play in Group B with Mexico, Australia and South Africa in Mexico City. It has its first game on Sunday at 3:00 p.m Cuban time (12:00 p.m. in Mexico City) against South Africa.

Group C gets underway with two games on Saturday. First the USA plays Canada at 2:00 p.m. ET, and Italy meets Venezuela at 6:00 p.m ET.

Group D also has two games on Saturday. The Netherlands plays the Dominican Republic at 11:00 a.m. ET and Puerto Rico and Panama are on at 5:00 p.m. ET.

For full coverage of the Cuban team at the classic keep tuned to Peter C. Bjarkman’s WBC Diary live from Mexico, San Diego and Los Angeles.