The Cuban team arrived in San Diego with the expectations of sailing right through the second round of the World Baseball Classic on their way to the championship round in Los Angeles, next weekend.
The only thing they forgot about was that in order to get there they had to play and beat the defending champions from Japan.
Japan jumped to an early lead in the top of the third inning scoring three runs.
The Cubans could not get back into the game after that as they were facing the Boston Red Sox Daisuke Matsuzaka, who remains perfect at the 2009 tournament.
Cuba had various opportunities to put runs on the board but only managed to reach third base once during the game.
The bright spot for the Cubans was the bat of Cepeda, who went 3-for-4, including one double.
Cuba now waits for the loser of the game between Mexico and South Korea, who provided Japan their only defeat in the first round.
The Cubans must get down to basics and focus on the game if they want to keep their record of reaching the finals in their last 40 international tournaments intact.