SAN DIEGO, CA — Favorites, schmavorites: a heavily favored Dominican team and the previously undefeated Koreans both went down to defeat on Saturday. After opening up leads in the seventh inning of their respective games, Cuba and Japan will face off in a World Baseball Classic final sure to capture the imaginations of, well, Cuba and Japan.
The Cuban team, the only team besides China in the WBC to contain no major-leaguers, had previously been defeated 7-3 by the Dominicans during the second round of WBC play. Wearing their “lucky” red uniforms, the Cuban pitchers held a powerful Dominican lineup to just one run on eight hits in the 3-1 win.
“This is a revolutionary team,” said LF Frederich Cepeda, who likely plans to celebrate a WBC win by returning to Havana and lining up for toilet paper.
Later, Korea and Japan were locked in a scoreless tie until a five-run seventh, started off with a two-run blast by OF Kosuke Fukudome off Korean reliever Byung-Hyun Kim, which caused Diamondbacks fans to nod knowingly. Before the game, Japanese manager Sadaharu Oh moved OF Ichiro Suzuki from his usual leadoff spot to third in the order, where he responded with three hits and an RBI.
“We kept pushing with all our might and we were able to score a lot of runs near the end of the game,” Oh said, for the benefit of those who hadn’t been watching the game.
Cuba and Japan will play in the first WBC final Monday night at 9 pm ET. As a side bet between the two countries, if Cuba should win, Japan will become communist.