The matchup of the teams that lost their Pool 1 openers should have featured two desperate teams, teams that knew moving on to San Francisco was a near impossibility with one more loss.
Cuba played with that urgency, but Taiwan could not match that intensity Saturday in Tokyo. The Cubans took an early lead and finished off Taiwan with an eight-run sixth inning, earning a 14-0 victory in a game called after 6 1/2 innings by the mercy rule. Cuba plays the loser of the Netherlands-Japan game for a spot in the semifinals, while Taiwan is eliminated.
The Cubans hit four home runs, including the third of the Classic by Alfredo Despaigne (his second in Pool 1), plus homers by Jose Abreu, Frederich Cepeda and emerging star Yosmani Tomas. Cepeda entered the Classic as the all-time WBC home runs leader and homered in the first inning off former Rockies farmhand Lo Ching-Lung to give Cuba a 2-0 lead. Cepeda is 8-for-16 in the Classic this year after going 12-for-24 with three homers in the '09 Classic.
Tomas hit a three-run shot to cap a four-run fourth inning as Cuba took control of the game. Abreu hit a two-run homer and Despaigne a solo shot during the eight-run sixth, which also included a three-run Jose Fernandez double.
Danny Betancourt threw six scoreless innings for the win.