Wang leads Taiwan to WBC opener win
By Joy Lee ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Chien-Ming Wang (王建民) pitched six perfect innings as Chinese Taipei took a 4-1 win over Australia in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) opener in Taichung yesterday.
March 3, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
Former Washington Nationals starter Wang finished his six innings with 61 pitches and four scattered hits in front of an audience of around 20,000. Wang's famous sinkers cut Australian scoring threats short by turning three double plays.
Wang said that he really appreciated the support of his teammates and all the passionate fans who came out to cheer for the home team.
“Playing baseball in my homeland Taiwan really makes me happy,” he said, “and I feel even better to have won the game.”
He added that he hoped Taiwan will put in similarly good performances in its upcoming games.
Foreign broadcasters described Wang's performance as “beautiful,” saying that he was back to the form he showed during his 19 wins in 2006 and 2007, when he pitched for the New York Yankees.
Chinese Taipei captain Cheng-Min Peng (彭政閔) hit the first run for the team in the first inning and a solo home run in the fifth inning. Lin Chih-sheng (林智勝) also knocked in an RBI with Lin Che-hsuan (林哲瑄) with a double in the third inning.
Japan's Fukuoda Softbank Hawks pitcher Yang Yao-hsun (陽耀勳) took over in the seventh inning, giving up a solo homer to Stefan Welch.
Ex-Los Angeles Dodgers setup man Hong-Chih Kuo (郭泓志) threw a shutout eighth inning, followed by Chen Hung-wen (陳鴻文), who sealed the win.
Local baseball fans have high hopes for the home team after being eliminated from the 2006 and 2009 WBCs in the preliminary rounds. At the WBC qualifying rounds held in November last year, the Taiwan team roared to three landslide victories.
Taiwan will face the Netherlands today and have its final round match with South Korea on March 5.
Wang Shines Again
Media yesterday praised Wang's flawless performance, saying it proves the pitcher is still the “pride of Taiwan.”
A picture of Wang pitching in his warm-up suit was featured on the front page of the official MLB and WBC websites, accompanied by a description of Wang opening the game for Chinese Taipei.
Wang was the New York Yankees's star pitcher thanks to his 19 outstanding wins in the 2006 and 2007 seasons. He was featured in Time's 100 most influential people list in 2007.
His performance, however, has been encumbered by his injuries since 2009. He is now a free agent after the Washington Nationals chose not to re-sign him.
Wang did not disappoint fans and the national squad's manager, Hsieh Chang-heng (謝長亨), with his excellent six shutout innings.
“It has been a while since the last time I pitched in Taiwan,” Wang said, “and right now I just want to focus on playing baseball for the national squad.”