Cuba bounced back from a humiliating 12-2 loss to Puerto Rico on Friday to surprise Venezuela in San Juan.
Venezuela was starting Johán Santana against Yadel Martí, who had been used as a reliever in the first round. Martí was effectively wild in his four innings of work, walking three and giving up two hits and no runs. Santana was touched for a run on a double, a fielders choice and a single. In the fifth, Martí was relieved by Pedro Lazo, who worked out of a bases-loaded no out situation.
The game turned in the sixth when Venezuela manager Luis Sojo had to go to his bullpen. With pitchers like Carlos Silva, Gustavo Chacin, Rafael Betancourt, and Victor Zambrano among pitchers available, Sojo opted to bring in Giovanni Carrara. Carrara started out giving up a run on a single, stolen base and RBI single by Michel Enriquez. One out later, Osmani Urrutia bounced a ball to Omar Vizquel at short and the ball hopped into Vizquel's shirt and he couldn't get out and everybody was safe. Yoandy Garlobo then grounded into a force play. Frederich Cepeda followed with a 3-run homer to make it 5-0. Ariel Pestano followed with another homer and it was 6-0 and the game was essentially over.
The powerful hitting D.R. squad was shut down by Javier Vazquez and three relievers while the Boricuas pounded out 13 hits to please a deliriously happy sellout crowd in San Juan.
Adrian Beltré hit his fourth home run of the tournament to give D.R. a 1-0 lead in the second, but that would be all that would be heard from a team that seemingly looked like it was going to put up 8-10 runs per game in the tournament.
Puerto Rico didn't hit a home run, but Jose Cruz went 3 for 5 and drove in three runs and Javy Lopez went 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles.
On Monday, the Cubans and Dominicans square off at 11 am PT while Puerto Rico takes on Venezuela at 5 pm PT.
Controversy reigned as the USA rallied from a 3-0 deficit to eke out a 4-3 win over Japan in gloomy Anaheim.
Team USA manager started Padres ace Jake Peavy, but he got off to a shaky start, giving up a leadoff home run to Ichiro Suzuki and Japan made the lead 3-0 in the second when Munenori Kawasaki singled in two. Chipper Jones got a run back for the USA with a solo homer in the second.
Naoyuki Shimizu came in to relieve Japanese starter Koji Uehara. He started off by striking out Alex Rodriguez, but followed that up with a walk to Jones. Derrek Lee then powered a 2-run homer to left center to tie the score at 3-3.
The game remained tied as it went to the 8th. Joe Nathan was in to relieve for Team USA and he gave up a leadoff single to Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Hitoshi Tamura popped out on a bunt attempt as Lee made a nice diving catch. Nathan then hit Nobuhiko Matsunaka and walked Kosuke Fukudome to load the bases.
Then came the play of the game. On a 2-1 pitch, Akinori Iwamura lofted a fly ball to Randy Winn in left field although not too deep. Nevertheless, Nishioka tagged up and scored easily as Winn's throw was weak and up the line.
Buck Martinez bolted out of the dugout and told catcher Brian Schneider to throw to third to appeal that Nishioka left too soon. Second base umpire Brian Knight (who was closest to the play as the third base umpire was watching Winn) ruled Nishioka safe. But Martinez persisted and appealed his appeal to home plate umpire Bob Davidson, who overruled Knight and called Nishioka out and took the run off the board and the game remained tied 3-3. TV replays indicated that Nishioka didn't leave early and Japanese manager Sadaharu Oh was none too happy over the play. Said Oh, through a translator presumably (in the story linked), "I'm a bit vexed. The judgement was out and the home plate umpire overruled the judgememnt. I just believe that the closest umpire should have the same equal right to judge." If Oh had been arguing with a Japanese umpire in a Japanese league game, he likely would have had Lou Piniella-Earl Weaver type meltdown on the field that would have lasted 10 minutes. And he might have gotten the call changed again. But in the U.S., Davidson's call was going to stand. And it's not as much fun to argue when you have to use an interpreter.
The Japanese loaded the bases against Brad Lidge in the ninth, but Tamura struck out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, Kyuji Fujikawa came in to pitch for Japan. Vernon Wells greeted him with a single. Randy Winn bunted him over and was safe when Nishioka dropped the throw at first. Michael Young tried to bunt the runners over, but Fujikawa was able to get a force on Wells at third. But Fujikawa didn't enjoy his success much as he hit Derek Jeter with a pitch to load the bases. Fujikawa worked Ken Griffey to a full count before striking him out. This brought up Rodriguez, who was able to ground a ball up the middle that Nishioka could only knock down and Winn scored the winning run in the tournament's first walkoff victory.
It was even colder in Anaheim for the night game as temperature did not get above 50, but over 42,000 (10,000 more than the USA-Japan game drew) showed up, most of them cheering avidly for the Mexican side.
But Seung-Yeop Lee quieted them in the first when he slammed a 2-run home run off of Rodrigo Lopez in the first to give Korea a 2-0 lead.
Korean starter Jae Seo was tough, allowing only a home run to Luis A. Garcia, in the third. Seo went 5 1/3 innings and gave up just two hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Four more pitchers combined to pitch the rest of the game for Korea and gave up no runs on three hits with no walks. Chan Ho Park pitched the ninth and struck out two to pick up his third save of the tournament.
Tomorrow, Korea takes on Team USA at 7 pm PT while México and Japan are off.
Korea and Puerto Rico are the only teams left among the eight who are 4-0. Korea's pitchers have an ERA of 1.00 and Puerto Rico's sport an ERA of 1.06.