Two home runs gave the CTBC Brothers a 2-0 victory over the Uni-President Lions in an otherwise pitcher-dominated Taiwan Series opener in Taichung yesterday.
CTBC took the lead in the best-of-seven Taiwan Series, with Taichung Intercontinental Stadium fully open and filled to capacity with 20,000 spectators because health authorities have kept the COVID-19 pandemic at bay.
CTBC fans dominated the stands, turning them yellow as so many were wearing their team’s colors.
Photo: Liao Yao-tung, Taipei Times
The CPBL’s championship series is to continue with Game 2 today, also in Taichung.
President Tsai Ing-wen made an unannounced visit prior to game’s start, participating in the opening ceremony and posing for photographs with both teams.
It is the first time Tsai has attend the Taiwan Series as president.
Photo: Liao Yao-tung, Taipei Times
She stayed at the stadium for about an hour, sitting in a VIP box with league officials and security personnel.
Presidential Office staff said that it was a surprise appearance by Tsai.
She wanted to show her strong support for Taiwanese baseball, the nation’s most popular sport, and she did not want to disturb fans and players, they said.
CPBL commissioner Tsai Chi-chang accompanied the president at the opening ceremony and unveiled a new championship trophy.
The Taiwan Series is to run into December for the first time after the regular season was suspended from the middle of May to the middle of July because of a nationwide COVID-19 alert.
The game lived up its billing as a battle between ace pitchers, with the Lions starting righty Brock Dykxhoorn, a native of Ontario, Canada.
He has the league’s best win record at 17-4 and an ERA of 1.83 this season.
CTBC started Jose de Paula on the mound, a lefty from Dominican Republic who has a 16-4 record this season, the lowest ERA of 1.77 and the most strikeouts, with 187.
As predicted, a tight game emerged amid a duel between the league’s two best pitchers this year, although both teams got men on base early.
However, Dykxhoorn and De Paula got out of jams to keep it scoreless through six innings.
The Lions put runners on base in the top of the seventh inning on two straight singles by catcher Lin Tai-an and second baseman Lin Ching-kai, but it was with two outs and De Paula struck out Lin Chu-chieh to end the threat.
In bottom of the seventh, Dykxhoorn — his pitch count past 100 — got into trouble when CTBC outfielder Tsan Tzu-hsien smashed one over the centerfield wall for a solo shot to make it 1-0.
Second baseman Yueh Tung-hua followed that up immediately with a right-side blast into the seats to make it 2-0.
In the ninth, the Brothers brought in closer Lee Cheng-chang, who has played in Japan and the MLB. He shut the door on the Lions, getting two strikeouts and a groundout to preserve the victory.
“I knew it would be a very tough game against the Lions hitters. It is a great feeling to get this win,” De Paula said after the game. “Credit goes to the whole team. We worked together and they helped me out with outstanding defense to keep the opposition from scoring.”
“Everyone witnessed an exciting game, with a great matchup between two ace pitchers,” CTBC manager Lin Wei-chu, who spend 10 seasons with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan, told reporters after the game. “It was not easy to get a hit and when we got men on bases, the next batters could not get them home.”
“We needed two homers to get the win,” he said.
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