|Cuba 5, United States 4 (11)
China 8, Taiwan 7 (12)
South Korea 1, Canada 0
|Today’s Schedule (All Times
|Canada vs. United States, 10:30 p.m.
Cuba vs. Taiwan, 11:30 p.m.
|China vs. Netherlands, 6
South Korea vs. Japan, 7
Team USA Update: The
Americans competed well against Cuba, rallying from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to force extra innings, but Cuba continued to show that rumors of its demise are greatly exaggerated. Cuba won 5-4 to remain in first place as one of two undefeated teams. The Americans were limited to six hits, and reliever Jeff Stevens (Indians) picked up his second loss in as many Olympic appearances. Team USA’s 1-2 start doesn’t preclude a medal run but isn’t making things easy.
Noting: Three games were decided by one run, including the first two games using the International Baseball Federation’s new tiebreaker system in extra innings. The controversial set-up is like softball’s rule, putting runners on first and second to start the 11th inning. The U.S. lost to Cuba in this fashion, but of more interest in Beijing, China beat its chief rival (and in its mind a breakaway republic), Taiwan, 8-7 using the tiebreaker system. China rallied from a 2-0 deficit with three in the eighth, lost the lead in the ninth, then scored five in the 11th after Taiwan had scored four. DH Hou Fenglian was credited with a walk-off, three-run single for the game-winner as China, led by former big league player and manager Jim Lefebvre, got its first-ever Olympic victory in baseball . . . Japan pounced on Dutch lefthander Alexander Smit (Reds) for four runs in the first inning and cruised to a 6-0 victory against the Netherlands, which has yet to score in three games. Toshiya Shugiuchi yielded all four Dutch hits in seven scoreless frames for Japan, striking out six. Netherlands’ hitters are batting .108 (9-for-83) so far in three games . . . Canada lost a heartbreaker 1-0 to South Korea, which joins Cuba as the field’s only undefeated teams so far in the round robin. Hyun-Jin Ryu, who was rookie of the year and MVP of the Korean Baseball Organization in 2006, avenged a loss to Canada in this spring’s Olympic qualifier by going the distance, allowing five hits and striking out six in the shutout victory. Second baseman Keun-Woo Jong, a fourth-year pro in Korea, homered in the third inning to provide the game’s only run.
Prospect News: Canadians from the affiliated minor leagues had all five of the Canucks’ hits against Korea; one apiece for Nick Weglarz (Indians), Michael Saunders (Mariners), Matt Rogelstad (Nationals), Emmanuel Garcia (Mets) and Chris Robinson (Cubs). Saunders also walked twice and stole a base. Brett Lawrie (Brewers) went 0-for-4 as the DH with a pair of strikeouts . . . Taiwan lost despite ace Wei-Lun Pan taking the mound. Pan, 26, won 21 straight decisions in Taiwan’s top pro league (the Chinese Professional Baseball League) and threw a no-hitter this year. He struck out eight Chinese in 6.1 innings, giving up two runs and four hits while walking two . . . Terry Tiffee was the only American with two hits, while among younger prospects, Nate Schierholtz (Giants) had a key double, RBI and run scored when the U.S. tied the game at 2 . . . Trevor Cahill (Athletics) walked four and struck out three in five innings, giving up two runs in the first . . . Reliever Kevin Jepsen (Angels) threw two scoreless innings before the tiebreaker format began.
For Today: Needing wins to reach the four-team medal round, the United States next faces Canada, also 1-2, in the first game of the next day of competition. With Cuba and South Korea undefeated and Japan with one loss, this could be a “loser leaves town” match, and at the very least the loser will have to be perfect the rest of the way to reach the medal round. Lefty Brett Anderson (A’s) is likely to start for Team USA. The other matchups include the Netherlands vs. China, Taiwan vs. Cuba and Japan vs. South Korea. Everyone gets Sunday off for a rest day.