Jose Abreu reacts to his slam. (AP)Cuba 12, China 0 (7 inn): Cuba's offense unloaded against China after a sleepy first game at the World Baseball Classic in Fukuoka, Japan on Monday morning. Jose Abreu slugged a grand slam against left-hander Xin Li to cap a six-run fifth inning for Cuba, which routed China in a game shortened by the 10-run mercy rule. After slipping past Brazil 2-0 in its first game, Cuba pounded 15 hits, including six for extra bases. Alexei Bell also homered for Cuba, which improved to 2-0 in Pool "A," and are assured of advancing to the next round.
Right-hander Danny Betancourt struck out eight, allowing a hit and a walk in 4 2/3 innings for Cuba before reaching his pitch limit. Cuba manager Victor Mesa said his team is pleased to be 2-0 but feels his team is "lacking something" so far.
China fell to 0-2 under manager John McLaren, a longtime major league coach:
"We knew it was going to be a difficult game because Cuba is so good," McLaren said. "They are so powerful and we had limited pitching today. I see a lot of major league talent on that Cuban team."
On Tuesday morning, China will face Brazil, which also is 0-2 but has played two competitive games. Cuba and Japan (which also has advanced to the next round) face each other Wednesday morning to conclude Pool "A" action.
Korea 6, Australia 0: Facing elimination, Korea jumped on Australia early and cruised to victory at Taichung, Taiwan in Pool "B" action Monday morning. The first six batters reached base for Korea, which scored three times in the first inning and got a big hit from Kim Hyun-Soo, who knocked in two with a bases-loaded single. Seung Song allowed two hits in four innings for Korea.
Korea, which reached the WBC finals in 2009, had been blanked by the Netherlands in its first game and will need to beat Chinese Taipei on Tuesday morning to advance. Australia fell to 0-2 and faces the Netherlands tonight.