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Left fielder Delwyn Young (Dodgers) hit a three-run homer to propel Team USA (3-1) to a 5-1 victory over Japan (2-2) today in World Cup action in Taiwan. Young also made what appeared to be phenomenal double play after leaping into the wall for an over-the-shoulder catch, then throwing to first base to double off the runner, although replay clearly showed that Young had dropped the ball. Team USA’s next game is today against Spain (1-3) at 6 p.m. (5 a.m. Eastern Standard Time).
With Italy’s 6-0 loss to Panama, Team USA moved up to second place in Pool A, behind 3-0 Taiwan and tied with Panama, which Team USA has already defeated 7-0.
On the mound, lefthander Brian Duensing (Twins) shut down the Japanese, allowing one run on three hits in his five innings. He struck out two and walked one, and three relievers combined to shut out Japan—which was fielding a team of amateurs rather than its usual professional team—for the final four innings.
Japan threatened to score in the first inning with two hits, but catcher Jason Jaramillo (Phillies) easily threw out leadoff hitter Tsutomo Sasaki attempting to steal second. Center fielder Hisayoshi Chono reached base on an infield single with two outs, but did not score.
In the bottom of the first, Team USA wasted no time getting the scoring started and jumped out to a 3-0. After Japanese lefthander Teruo Kawawaki retired center fielder Colby Rasmus (Cardinals) for the first out, second baseman Jayson Nix (Rockies) singled on a chopper between the shortstop and the third baseman. Designated hitter Andy LaRoche (Dodgers) walked before Young, who hit 17 home runs for Triple-A Las Vegas in 2007, smashed a 3-2 pitch on the lower-outer half of the plate for a home run to center field to give Team USA a 3-0 lead.
The action and controversy followed in the top of the second inning. Third baseman Kenichi Yokoyama led off the inning with a line drive single to center field. After Duensing induced a pop out to shortstop Brian Bixler (Pirates) from right fielder Kei Nomoto for the first out, designated hitter Toshiyuki Hayashi smashed a fly ball to the left field warning track. Young drifted back in front of the warning track, then leaped to try to make the catch over his left shoulder. The ball hit Young’s glove, bounced up in the air, and Young slid into the wall to try to make the catch. The ball clearly hit the ground, but Young’s body appeared to obstruct the umpire’s view of the play. With Yokoyama running all the way around the bases from first base on the play, Young threw the ball in to first base for the double play to end the inning
Team USA looked poised to strike again in the bottom of the second. After right fielder Justin Ruggiano (Rays) led off the inning with a fly out to left field, Jaramillo laid a bunt single down the third base line. Bixler, who made two key errors in Team USA’s 6-2 loss yesterday to Italy, followed with a double down the left field line to give Team USA runners at second and third with one out, chasing Kawawaki from the game. Lefthander Takashi Saito came in and got Japan out of the jam, getting Rasmus to pop out to the catcher in the spacious foul territory behind the plate and Nix to ground out to shortstop to end the inning.
Japan’s bullpen was superb, holding Team USA scoreless for six straight innings. Team USA threatened to score in the bottom of the fifth after Rasmus roped a one-out double into the right field corner, but Nix flew out to the center field warning track and Young grounded out to third base to end the inning.
Meanwhile, Duensing was shutting down the Japanese hitters until the sixth inning, when he left the game after surrendering a leadoff walk. Lefthander Neal Musser (Royals) relieved Duensing, who allowed the first batter he faced to single down the right field line, putting runners on first and third. A sacrifice fly made it a 3-1 game.
While the Japanese bullpen was strong most of the night, Team USA tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the eighth, when Nix led off the inning with a double. LaRoche followed with his second walk of the game. After getting ahead in the count 2-0, Young got into a 2-2 count and hit a lazy fly ball to center field for the first out of the inning. Third baseman Evan Longoria (Rays) was up next and hit a hanging 1-0 breaking ball off the sidearming righthander Kohhei Haesbe for a double to the base of the wall in left-center field, scoring both Nix and LaRoche to give Team USA a 5-1 lead.
In the top of the ninth, manager Davey Johnson called on 30-year-old righthander Chris Booker (Nationals) to close out the game against the top of the Japanese lineup. After striking out the leadoff batter and inducing a fly out to left field for two quick outs, Japan made things interesting with a Chono triple to right-center field, a hit batsmen and a walk before Booker ended the game by striking out Nomoto to end the game.
- Team USA play fine defense in the fifth inning. After Longoria made a diving catch to his left, Nix fielded a ground ball to his left in shallow right field, then spun and made the throw to first to get the runner.
- Nix led Team USA with two hits, going 2-for-4 with a double. Rasmus, Longoria and Bixler were the other Americans who doubled for Team USA.
- Righthander Jeff Stevens (Indians) pitched a perfect inning out of the bullpen in the eighth inning. He had one strikeout.
- Chono, Japan’s No. 3 hitter in the lineup, went 2-for-4 with a triple.
AROUND THE WORLD
- In a battle of undefeated teams in Pool B, Cuba improved to 4-0 with a 7-2 victory over South Korea (3-1). Cuba starter Aroldis Chapman was masterful, striking out nine and walking just one in seven innings, allowing just one run. Yuniesky Maya came on in relief for the final two innings, and recorded five of his six outs on strikeouts. He walked none and allowed one hit.
Left fielder Frederich Cepeda paced the Cuban offense, going 3-for-4 with a double. Cuban first baseman Alexander Mayeta and right fielder Yoandry Urgelles each went 1-for-3 with a double. For South Korea, right fielder and cleanup hitter Ji Wan Na went 2-for-4.
- Taiwan defeated Spain 8-4 to remain undefeated and in first place in Pool A. Taiwan struck early with three runs in the top of the first inning. Spain narrowed the margin to 3-2 with two runs in the second, but Taiwan responded in the next inning with two more runs to expand its lead to 5-2. Although Spain had 12 hits compared to Taiwan’s eight hits, Taiwan also drew nine walks.
For Taiwan, designated hitter Chin-Feng Chen—the first player born in Taiwan to play in the major leagues—went 3-for-5 with a home run and a double.
- One day after upsetting Team USA 6-2, Italy fell to 2-1 with a 6-0 loss to Panama (3-1). Panama starter Rafael Medina pitched six scoreless innings, allowing two hits, no walks and striking out two. Panama’s Alberto Acosta, Rodrigo Tello and Riccardo Montilla each pitched a scoreless inning in relief. Italian starter Sandy Patron struggled, giving up three runs in his two innings.
On offense, Panama designated hitter Sherman Obando went 2-for-4 with a home run. The first two hitters in Panama’s lineup—center fielder Concepcion Rodriguez and Audes De Leon—each had two hits, as did right fielder Earl Agnoly and first baseman Yoni Lasso. Italy third baseman Alex Liddi, a Mariners farmhand who played in the low Class A Midwest League this year, went 1-for-4.
- The Netherlands edged Venezuela 7-4, as every hitter in the Netherlands lineup but one recorded a hit. The Netherlands jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the top of the first, but Venezuela narrowed the margin to 3-2 with two runs in the bottom frame of the inning. The Netherlands came back with two more in the top of the second, and Venezuela responded in the bottom half of the inning with a run to make it a 5-3 game in favor of the Netherlands before the Dutch made it 6-3 with a run in the top of the third.
For the Netherlands, left fielder Bryan Engelhardt went 2-for-3 with a home run. Center fielder Rogearvin Bernardina and right fielder Dirk Van’t Klooster each went 2-for-5 with a double. Shortstop Hainley Statia (Angels), who played in the high Class A California League this year, hit second in the lineup and went 1-for-4. Righthander Loek Van Mil, a 7-foot-1 Twins farmhand, pitched two scoreless, hitless innings in relief. He struck out two and walked none.
- Canada improved to 2-2 with a 10-0 victory over winless Germany (0-4). Righthander Jamie Richmond (Braves), who had a 3.05 ERA as a 21-year-old in the low Class A South Atlantic League this year, pitched seven shutout innings. Richmond had four strikeouts, no walks and allowed fours hits.
At the plate, Canada’s lead off hitter, second baseman Matt Rogelstad (Nationals), went 3-for-5 with a double. Center fielder Robert Verschuren also had three hits for Canada. Designated hitter Michael Saunders (Mariners), who played 108 games in high Class A and 15 more in Double-A this year, went 2-for-4 with a double. Outfielders Jimmy Van Ostrand (Astros), Nick Weglarz (Indians) and Jamie Romak (Pirates) each had a single for Canada.
TODAY’S SCHEDULE (times listed are Taiwan local times)
12 pm: Taiwan vs. Mexico
12 pm: South Africa vs. Italy
6 pm: Spain vs. USA
6 pm: Japan vs. Panama
12 pm: Australia vs. South Korea
12 pm: Netherlands vs. Canada
6 pm: Venezuela vs. Cuba
6 pm: Germany vs. Thailand
South Africa 3
South Korea 2