Pool B of the World Baseball Classic kicked off in Tokyo, with host Japan playing Cuba. The hosts used power to defeat the Cubans, 11-6.
Japan hit two home runs: a three-run homer in the fifth and a two-run shot in the seventh. They also hit four doubles. Their offense only struck out three times.
That made a winner of Ayumu Ishikawa, who allowed a run on two hits over four innings.
Former KC Royal Nori Aoki batted third and played center field for Japan. He went 1-for-3 with a double, a walk, and a run scored.
All six Cuban pitchers allowed runs. The Cubans collected 11 hits, but hit into two double plays. Yoelkis Cespedes went 3-for-4 with a run scored in the loss.
It is a quick turnaround for Cuba, as they play China at 10pm ET. Japan will play Australia at 5am ET.
Over in Pool A of the WBC (Seoul, Korea), Israel improved to 2-0 as they beat Chinese-Taipei, 15-7. They collected 20 hits (six went for extra bases).
Israel opened the game with four straight hits and two runs before Chinese-Taipei recorded an out. In the first, they had six hits altogether and four runs. They added two more in the 3rd inning on Ryan Lavarnway’s homer (the first home run of the WBC).
Meanwhile, Israel starter Corey Baker carried a no-hitter into the fourth. Chinese-Taipei’s first hit came with two outs and it was literally hit off Baker. He recovered and lasted into the fifth, striking out two in the 5th inning before allowing a single.
Chinese-Taipei cut the deficit to three runs by scoring three runs in the 6th inning off two Israel relievers. There were two hits, a walk, a sac fly, and a one out costly error.
However Israel blew the game open with five more runs in the top of the seventh, which started with an Ike Davis triple. Later in the inning with a run in, former Royal Cody Decker delivered a pinch-hit single to load the bases. Two hits and an error later, four runs had scored.
Next up was the Netherlands, who beat host Korea, 5-0. Korea dropped to 0-2 and will play Chinese-Taipei at 5am ET on March 9th. The Netherlands play Chinese-Taipei at 5am ET and then Israel at 10pm ET tomorrow.
The Netherlands scored in the bottom of the first. Andrelton Simmons led off with a single and Jurickson Profar followed with a home run. Xander Bogaerts followed with a triple, but was left stranded.
In the 2nd inning, Randolph Oduber singled with two outs, stole second base, and moved to third base on the error. He scored on Simmons’ double. In the sixth, Oduber hit a two-run homer.
That made a winner of Netherlands starter Rick van den Hurk, who allowed three hits and walked two over four innings.
*All games will air on MLB Network.