Archive for the 'Cuba' Category

Cuba Survives, Japan wins

August 14th, 2008

At the evening games of Olympic Baseball Second Day, Cuba defeat Canada 7-6 despite less hits, and Chinese Taipei once tie with Japan but failed at the 9 inning and got an 1-6 lost.

Game 7: Game Summary(Box Score)

Team   1 2 3  4 5 6  7 8 9  R  H  E LOB
Canada 0 0 2  1 0 2  0 1 0   6  9  2  7
Cuba   0 3 0  0 0 4  0 0 X   7  5  2  5

From Bob Duff of Canwest News Service:

As Yogi Berra might say, it was deja vu all over again for Canada’s Olympic baseball team.

Here they were, late in the game, holding a two-run advantage over Cuba, positioned to deliver the upset.

Then the Cubans upset those plans.

Two-run homers by Alexander Malleta and Alfredo Despaigne in the sixth inning erased a 5-3 Canadian lead, powering Cuba (2-0) to a 7-6 victory over Canada (1-1) on the second day of the Olympic tournament.

So close, but once again, no Cuban cigar.

“We know when we come out here, we’re in a game,” said Canadian second baseman Stubby Clapp of Windsor, Ont. “You can’t let up on them. They always come back.”
Usually, to haunt the Canadians.

“This is the type of game of we play every time,” Clapp said. “We’re just one hit away, one swing away from winning the game.”

The outcome was starkly familiar to the semifinal of the Olympic baseball tournament four years ago in Athens. In that game, Canada carried a 3-2 lead into the eighth inning before the Cubans exploded for six runs, then held on for an 8-5 triumph.

Emotionally devastated, Canada performed dismally in an 11-2 loss to Japan in the bronze-medal game.

While disappointing, at this stage of the tournament, this setback shouldn’t set Canada back in similar fashion.

“It’s better to lose a game like this early in the tournament than later on when you can’t do anything about it,” said Canadian manager Terry Puhl, a native of Melville, Sask.

“That’s the best part,” added Clapp. “We got it over now.

“It’s our turn next.”

Two games into the tournament, the Canadians have displayed plenty of power. Outfielder Mike Saunders of Victoria has homered in both games, while outfielder Nick Weglarz of Stephensville, Ont., clouted two homers against the Cubans.

After Cuba grabbed a 3-0 lead in the second inning, Weglarz completed a Canadian rally, tying the score at 3-3 when he hit a solo shot to lead off the fourth inning, a long homer that banked off one of the flagpoles in centre field. His two-run bomb in the sixth gave Canada a 5-3 advantage.

“On the first one, I was looking for my pitch and I got it,” Weglarz said. “The one I hit to right field, I was just trying to get the runner over.

“We’ve got a lot of power on this team. We’re a good hitting team.”

While they’ve displayed a propensity for the long ball, the Canadians’ ability to come up with the timely hit spelled their demise against the Cubans, stranding five runners in scoring position.

“That’s baseball,” Weglarz said. “You can’t always execute.”

The Cuban game was the beginning of a gauntlet of baseball powers for Canada in this tournament. The Canadians play South Korea (1-0) on Friday. The Korean game against China on Thursday morning was halted by rain and will be resumed Sunday.

Following that, it’s showdown with the United States (1-1) on Saturday, then after an off day, a showdown with Japan (1-1) on Monday.

The top four teams in the eight-team tournament through round-robin play advance to the medal round.

“Yes, this is one we let get away,” Puhl said of the loss to the Cubans. “But if we continue to play with this kind of intensity, we’re going to be in the medal round.”

Game 8: Game Summary(Box Score)

Team            1 2 3  4 5 6  7 8 9   R  H  E LOB
Japan           0 0 0  0 1 1  0 0 4   6  9  1  8
Chinese Taipei  0 0 0  1 0 0  0 0 0   1  4  0  3

From China post:

Taiwan’s baseball team was defeated by Japan 1-5 in a long 9-inning battle at the Beijing Olympic Games.

The Taiwanese team was rated an underdog versus the strong Japanese team for the evening game, but the players managed to take an early 1-0 lead over Japan at the end of the 4th inning while pitcher Hsu Wen-hsiung successfully held the Japanese scoreless.

Hsu was relieved by left-hand pitcher Ni Fu-teh at the end of the 5th inning after a solo homerun by the Japanese catcher to tie the game 1-1.

After a Japanese player reached 2nd base, Ni was replaced by the third pitcher Chang Chih-chia.

Chang struck out a Japanese batter, but was unable to stem the next hitter who allowed Japan to take the lead 2-1 in the 6th inning.

Both teams were unable to score in the 7th inning. However, the Japanese team widened its lead to 6-1 to wrap up the intense competition.

This was the first defeat for the Chinese Taipei team after they blanked the Netherlands in a 5-0 victory Wednesday that also saw Cuba beat Japan 4-2.

The Taiwanese players are scheduled to take on the Chinese baseball team at 10:00 a.m. in Beijing today.

Sloppy USA falls, Japan can not win

August 13th, 2008

At the evening game of Olympic Baseball on first day, Korea proved they can beat USA and Cuba once again show their ability at international baseball.

Game 3: Game Summary(Box Score)

Team          1 2 3  4 5 6  7 8 9   R   H  E LOB
United States 1 0 0  0 2 1  0 0 3   7  12  1   7
Korea         0 2 1  0 3 0  0 0 2   8   9  1   3

From Jeff Faraudo of Bay Area News Group:

The U.S. baseball team had a chance Wednesday to answer Cuba.

But it couldn’t close the deal.

The day after two Cuban players said Japan will be their chief competition for a gold medal in what may be the final Olympic baseball tournament, the Americans dropped their opener, falling 8-7 to South Korea.

The Americans rallied from a 6-4 deficit to take a 7-6 lead on Matt Brown’s two-out, two run single in the top of the ninth but closer Jeff Stevens surrendered two runs in the bottom of the ninth, sabotaging himself with a wild pick-off throw that put the winning run 90 feet from home plate.

The South Koreans capitalized when Lee Jong-wook delivered a sacrifice fly to center to score Lee Taek-keum with the winning run.

Stevens, who pitches in the Cleveland Indians’ organization, came on as the fourth pitcher for the U.S. and immediately gave up a line-drive double down the left-field line to Jeong Keun-woo.

Jeong moved to third on a groundout scored the tying run when second baseman Jayson Nix threw wide to the plate after scooping up a ground ball. Lee was safe at first on the fielder’s choice.

Things went from bad to worse when Stevens fired a pick-off attempt over the head of first baseman Brown, sending Lee to third.

USA Manager Davey Johnson said Brown was listening to instructions from the dugout and didn’t see Stevens’ throw.

“That was basically the ball game,” Johnson said.

The U.S. hit two home runs, the first a solo shot leading off the sixth by Nate Schierholtz, who plays for the Giants’ Triple-A club in Fresno. Mike Hessman blasted a solo shot in the ninth.

The U.S. faces the Netherlands today (Beijing time) and will play the powerful Cubans on Friday (Beijing time). A’s prospect Trevor Cahill is expected to draw the starting pitching assignment against Cuba.

Game 4: Game Summary(Box Score)

Team  1 2 3  4 5 6  7 8 9  R  H  E  LOB
Japan 0 0 1  0 1 0  0 0 0  2  9  1    7
Cuba  0 1 1  0 2 0  0 0 X  4  9  1   12

From AFP Havana, Cubans use win to celebrate Castro’ 82 birthday.

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who has not been seen in public since falling ill two years ago, quietly turned 82 on Wednesday, as many Cubans instead celebrated an Olympic baseball victory.

Castro, who has not been seen in public since a July 2006 stomach operation for an undisclosed illness, maintains local and international influence through comments in newspapers, and has appeared in videos with visiting heads of government.

But Castro’s birthday coincided with an Olympic baseball match in China between Cuba and Japan and many on the baseball-crazy Caribbean island were glued to their radios to follow the game.

“Of course it’s the birthday of the Commandante (Castro) who I respect more than anyone, but it’s also an important match for our baseball team,” said one government worker, celebrating his team’s 4-2 victory.

And losing some best player to Major League Baseball might influence Japan’s Olympic goal, write AP.

If only Daisuke Matsuzaka, Ichiro Suzuki and Kosuke Fukodome had been in China instead of the majors, Japan might have done better against Cuba in their Olympics opener Wednesday night.

Alfredo Despaigne went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and Norge Luis Vera pitched six solid innings to carry Cuba past Japan 4-2 in a rematch of the finals from the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006 — and a preview of the finals, if both teams live up to expectations.

“It was a very difficult game,” Cuba manager Antonio Pacheco said. “It’s always important to win your first game in the Olympics.”

Each starting lineup featured five players from the Classic finale, which Japan won 10-6. The teams actually have met since then, with Cuba beating Japan in the semifinals of the lower-profile Baseball World Cup last November.

“Today, just today, they are better than us,” Japan manager Senichi Hoshino said. “But the Japanese team is good.”

The Cubans have owned the Olympics, winning three of the four gold medals, including the last one, and taking silver the other time. With baseball going off the schedule in 2012, and not guaranteed to return after that, Cuba would love nothing more than to go out on top. And Japan, with only one silver and two bronzes, would also like to leave a better impression on the history books.

On Wednesday, Fidel Castro’s 82nd birthday, the weather was miserable — hot, humid and a constant haze that looked like a fireworks show had just ended. Then rain came in the eighth inning, although loud supporters of both teams never stopped cheering and chanting.

The teams made nice before things got started at Wukesong Baseball Field, exchanging pins before the head of Japan’s baseball federation threw the opening pitch to Cuba’s catcher.

Some inside heaters in the early innings set a different tone. So did a fastball to the backstop on the first pitch from hulking reliever Pedro Luis Lazo against Munenori Kawasaki, who was 2-for-2 with two runs at the time, and a hard slide to break up a double play by Hiroyuki Nakajima, Kawasaki’s pinch-runner after he ended up singling off Lazo.

Both teams wasted great chances to break things open in the early innings, but neither pushed more than one run across at a time. Cuba led 1-0 in the second and 2-1 in the third, but Japan tied it again in the fifth.

Japan starter Yu Darvish, likely to join “Dice-K” as a big-league starter one day, got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the second, then struck out Cuba’s cleanup hitter Alexander Malleta with the bases loaded in fourth. But after opening the fifth with a walk and a hard-hit double, he was gone.

Despaigne greeted reliever Yoshihisa Naruse with a liner to left that drove in both runners.

There were fewer scoring threats after that, with fresh arms from the bullpen dominating hitters possible drained by the muggy weather.

Takahiro Abe opened the ninth with a single off Lazo, but he was stuck there. Lazo retired the next three batters, ending the game with a called strikeout of Nakajima.

Vera (1-0) gave up two runs on seven hits with two strikeouts. Lazo gave up two hits and fanned two in three innings for the save.

“I already know that I have the talent,” Vera said. “Next time, I think I need to have more control.”

Darvish (0-1) allowed four runs in four innings, with four walks, seven hits and six strikeouts.

“He was not in good form,” his manager said. “He didn’t do his job today.”

So first day’s four games is over, unexpectedly Korea let world knows their performance of World Baseball Classic can be reproduced, and Cuba remain one of the favorite team to win another Gold in final Olympics.

As for USA and Japan, they both need to regroup and forgot their lost, and face the other six game at the Preliminaries.

Cuba Announces Olympic Team

July 23rd, 2008

Cuba, the most powerful force of Olympic Baseball, had won three Gold Medal in fourth Olympics, announce the 24-man roster including stars such as Yulieski Gourriel and Norge Luis Vera.

The defending Olympic champion also has Pedro L. Lazo with team, who will be making his record fourth Olympic baseball appearance.

Cuba begins the defense of its gold medal against another gold-medal favorite Japan on August 13.

The traditional powerhouse at the Olympics, Cuba has dealt with some losses since 2006, including a World Baseball Classic defeat to Japan and gold medal losses to the U.S. in the 2007 World Cup and 2006 Americas Olympic qualifying tournament.

The roster is similar as Cuba team at Haarlemse Honkbalweek, but five players left.

Five players were eliminated from the preliminary roster, catcher Yosvany Peraza, infielder Yoandy Garlobo, outfielder Osmani Urrutia – the biggest surprise -, and pitchers Elier Sánchez and Miguel Lahera.

Cuba has won three of the four Olympic gold medals since baseball became a medal sport in 1992 — settling for silver in 2000 when it was upset by the United States.

The roster is:

Catchers: Ariel Pestano, Rolando Meriño, Eriel Sánchez.

Infielders: Alexander Malleta, Héctor Olivera, Yulieski Gourriel, Michel Enríquez, Eduardo Paret, Luis Miguel Navas.

Outfielders: Giorvis Duvergel, Yoandry Urgellés, Alexei Bell, Frederich Cepeda, Alfredo Despaigne

Pitchers: Pedro L. Lazo, Yunieski Maya, Jonder Martínez, Yulieski González, Yadier Pedroso, Vicyohandri Odelín, Adiel Palma, Norberto González, Norge Luis Vera, Luis Miguel Rodríguez.

Cuba is ready and hope to catch Gold

July 3rd, 2008

According to Kevin Baxter of Los Angeles Times, Cuba is ready to play ball.

The powerful Cuban national team, among the favorites to strike gold in what could be the Olympics’ final baseball tournament, trimmed 11 players from its roster last week and will make one more cut before leaving the island to start its pre-Olympic tour in the Netherlands this weekend.

The team will leave Cuba on Friday. Missing from the Olympic roster, however, is Pan Am Games second baseman Alexei Ramirez, who defected last fall and is now playing for the Chicago White Sox.

The only real surprises were on the pitching staff, where Aroldis Chapman, named the outstanding left-hander in last fall’s World Cup tournament, was sent home in favor of veteran Vicyohandri Odelin.

Neither pitcher performed well in Cuban play this winter, with Chapman going 6-7 with a 3.89 ERA (despite striking out 79 in 74 innings and holding opponents to a .200 batting average) while Odelin was 6-6 with 3.92 ERA. But Odelin survived the preliminary cut because of his extensive international experience.

Also surviving the cut was 38-year-old pitcher Adiel Palma, who beat the U.S. in the gold medal game of last summer’s Pan American Games.

And from Ray Sanchez of South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Cuba Hopes Its Baseball Team Will Catch Olympic Gold.

In Beijing next month, Cuba’s powerful national baseball team will be among the gold-medal favorites in what could be the sport’s Olympic farewell.

Underscoring the importance of the squad’s success, the Communist Party daily Granma published on Tuesday a copy of a hand-scrawled note to the players from ailing former president Fidel Castro.

“To the glorious Cuban athletes marching towards the Olympics,” Castro wrote. “Traveling with you is the love of our people for our country.”

At a ceremony with players at Latin American Stadium over the weekend, President Raul Castro was more succinct.

“You all know what the Cuban people expect from you,” the younger Castro told the players before their departure for a pre-Olympic tournament in the Netherlands. “You know and we know what you will achieve. We’ll see you here in August. Congratulations.”

Sports ministry officials are still reeling from a spate of defections that have plundered the island of five top boxers over the last couple of years. After baseball, Cubans are passionate about boxing, the sport in which the country has won 32 of its 65 Olympic gold medals.

And absent from the Olympic baseball team will be Pan American Games infielder Alexei Ramirez, who defected in November and now plays for the Chicago White Sox. His new teammates call him the “Cuban missile.”

Another team considered a favorite for baseball gold is Japan, winner of the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006.

Still, Cuban teams have won gold medals in three Olympics ? Barcelona, 1992; Atlanta, 1996; Athens, 2004 ? and the silver in Sydney in 2000. Cuba reached the Classic final in 2006 in its first real test against big-league stars.

Now the question is, is Japan or USA enough to beat Cuba? Or Cuba is enough to beat USA or Japan. We will only find out when the resulf of GOLD MEDAL Game of Olympic Baseball 2008 on Aug 23.

Castro Sends Message to Cuban Players

July 1st, 2008

Even he is not Cuba President anymore, Leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, send a message to Cuban Olympic Baseball Players, according to Radio Cadena Agramonte.

HAVANA, Cuba, July 1.- The leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, sent a message to the Cuban players that will participate in the baseball competition of the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

A copy of the message, published on Tuesday by Granma and Juventud Rebelde news dailies, was handed over to each player of the Cuban team before they traveled on Sunday to Holland to participate in the annual Baseball Week of Haarlem that begins next Friday and where they will face the national squads of the United States, Japan, Chinese Taipei and the host country, as part of their Olympic preparation.

To the glorious Cuban athletes who are marching toward the Olympics: “Carry on with the steps of conquerors,” as in Ayacucho and Mal Tiempo. With you goes our people’s love for our country. (ACN & GRANMA INTERNATIONAL).

I believe their main target is to repeat the Gold Medal again in Olympics.

By the way, Cuban Team roster reduced to 29 before they went to Holland Tournament.

The roster of the Cuban Olympic baseball team was reduced yesterday from 32 to the 29 players who will head to Europe later in the week for the upcoming Haarlem, Holland tournament. The players cut were outfielders Yoennis Cespedes and Leonis Martin and pitcher Ismel Jimenez.

By the time the Olympics arrive in August the team will have to make a further cut to the final roster of 24 players.

U.S., Cuba qualify for 2008 Olympic baseball

September 8th, 2006

People’s Daily Online also write an article about USA and Cuba qualify for 2008 Olympic Baseball in Beijing.

U.S., Cuba qualify for 2008 Olympic baseball

The United States on Wednesday defeated Cuba in the final of the Olympic Baseball Qualifying Tournament held in Cuban capital Havana. Both teams qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games.

The U.S. team beat the Cubans 8-5 thanks to a series of home runs in the late Tuesday competition, giving a taste of their own medicine to the Cuban team which had defeated a long list opponents in the same way.

Tuesday’s loss broke the Cuban team’s run of unbroken wins in the competition.

The U.S. team scored five such home runs in front of the 40,000-strong crowd in the Latinoamericano Stadium, shaming Cuba’s four pitchers.

The U.S.’ Skip Schumacher and Brian La Hair led the batting, put in an impressive performance at the beginning, despite the best efforts of pitcher Ariel Palma. And it was only when 90-mph pitcher Yunieski Maya took over that the U.S. felt any resistance.

The top four teams also win a place in the 2007 Baseball World Championships, and the third- and fourth-placed teams — Mexico and Canada — also secured places in a play-off matches for the Olympics, against play-off teams from the European, Asian, African and Oceania leagues.

The top seven teams, which also include Venezuela, Panama, and Nicaragua, also go through to the 2007 Rio de Janeiro-based Pan American Games.

Cuba Hosts Baseball Pre-Olympics

August 25th, 2006

According to Prensa Latina

Starting Aug 26 Cuba will host the Pre-Olympic Baseball Tournament of the Americas, giving slots for Beijing-2008, the World Cup and Pan-American Games in Brazil.

Twelve countries will participate split into two pools: (A) Cuba, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Panama; and (B) Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the US.

The matches will be held at the Latin American stadium in Havana, “Changa” Mederos in Santiago and Nelson Fernandez in Havana Province.

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