Los Alazanes de Granma, the Cuban representative in the Baseball Week in Harlem, Holland, lost 4-3 this Sunday against a team from the Industrial League of Japan and already have two defeats in the traditional European competition, which is held every two years in summer.
After losing to the hosts on Saturday, Carlos Martí’s troops were unable to change course and succumbed again on Sunday, weighed down mainly by their poor offense and the lack of control by reliever Pavel Hernández, who took the loss by giving away three tickets and allow the decisive score of the match.
Hernández, one of the reinforcements requested by the Granma leadership for the event, entered as a reliever in the sixth inning with a 3-2 lead on the scoreboard, after starter Yoen Socarrás accepted a pair of hits from Rui Muneyama and Kyuto Ueda, third and fourth log of the Japanese batch, respectively.
With those two runners on the corners, the pitcher from the capital gave up a stolen base, intentionally walked, committed a tie-forcing wild pitch, intentionally walked another and, after getting one out on the rubber on an infield groundout, he came back with the loss of control and awarded his third base of the inning to force the fourth and decisive run of the Japanese.
As we already mentioned, Cuba had reached that episode with an advantage as a result of three annotations that scored at the end of the first third. Leonel Moa brought the first with a double to the vital left, coming just after Alexquemer Sánchez missed a sacrifice bunt. The icing on the cake of that inning was put by Osvaldo Abreu with a single to center field that drove in two.
The Alazanes enjoyed that short lead thanks to an acceptable performance by Socarrás, who completed five innings with a couple of strikeouts, the same number of walks and five hits on his account. However, the house of cards collapsed due to the bad start of Pavel Hernández as a reliever, a role that he did not assume at any time during the last baseball season in Cuba.
Aside from the pitching work, the hitters couldn’t do much against the Japanese pitching either. Only six hits were connected by the Antillean batch against the shipments of Shota Watanabe, Riku Kikuchi and Tatsuya Hashimoto, who combined to prescribe eight strikeouts in seven episodes.
The defeat leaves Cuba in the basement of the event along with Italy, who have also lost both of their meetings. At the top are the Japanese, undefeated in three outings, escorted by the Dutch hosts, who surprisingly lost against Curaçao after winning their first two matches. Precisely, Curaçaoans and Americans are still in the order with a balance of 1-1.
The Antilleans will face the United States on Monday in a game of life or death, because if they fall, their options of sneaking into the top four that advance to the semifinals would be too far away.