MLB All-Stars earn hard-fought win in Taiwan
Major Leaguers go ahead late to take Game 2 vs. Chinese Taipei
TAICHUNG, Taiwan -- The quality of baseball in Taiwan is getting better quickly, and the stars of the Major Leagues got a good taste of that improvement Thursday night.
As expected, the MLB All-Stars won Game 2 of the 2011 Taiwan All-Star Series in Taichung Intercontinental Stadium, but it didn't come easy. They eked out a 5-3 victory over the Chinese Taipei national team in a game that was in question for most of the contest, and also was tinged with worry and concern because of a serious injury to a Chinese Taipei player.
After taking an early 2-0 lead, MLB gave up three unanswered runs to face its first deficit of the five-game exhibition series, but tied it in the sixth on a Ronny Paulino RBI single. The All-Stars went ahead for good in the seventh when Red Sox outfielder Josh Reddick led off with a double and scored on a wild pitch, and Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano doubled in an insurance run to end the scoring.
"There were a lot of flip-flips on the score, but luckily we got good pitching throughout the nine innings and our bats didn't stop," Reddick said. "Luckily, we scored a few more runs than they did. That's the way the game goes."
The MLB All-Stars have now won Games 1 and 2 of the exhibition series against the Chinese Taipei national team, and they will play their next game at Intercontinental Stadium in Taichung on Friday. Game 3 will air on Friday at 9 p.m. ET on MLB.TV and MLB Network. Games 4 and 5, played at Chengcing Lake Stadium in Kaohsiung, will air on MLB.TV and MLB Network at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday and at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday.
On Thursday, things started out well for MLB. Angels shortstop Erick Aybar, fresh off his Gold Glove Award announcement, led off the game with a double against Chinese Taipei starter Yao-Lin Wang, advanced on an error and scored on Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson fielder's choice.
And in the third inning, Reddick led off with a double and scored to make it 2-0 when Chinese Taipei first baseman Chih-Pei Huan mishandled the throw from shortstop Po-Ting Hsiao on a double-play attempt.
But for the next inning, it was all Taiwan.
MLB starter Ross Detwiler, a hard-throwing Washington Nationals left-hander, gave up back-to-back doubles in the fourth, and Huan drove in Chinese Taipei's first run.
Two more scored in the next inning against MLB reliever LaTroy Hawkins, with second baseman Han Lin driving in one with a single and designated hitter Chun-Hsiu Chen knocking another in with a base hit to give Chinese Taipei an unexpected 3-2 lead that had the capacity crowd rocking.
"The Taipei hitters have such good discipline -- they don't chase pitches out of the zone," Detwiler said. "And I was a bit wild, and they were able to capitalize on that."
Unfortunately for Chinese Taipei, center fielder Kuo Hui Lo, a Seattle Mariners Minor Leaguer, suffered a dislocated right ankle and leg fracture on a slide while being thrown out at home by Reddick to end the inning. Lo was removed from the field on a stretcher and taken to a hospital to undergo surgery.
"We're still concerned about the accident at home plate," MLB manager Bruce Bochy said in a postgame news conference. "That was really a tragedy in a good ballgame, so that takes away a little bit from a good ballgame."
The game had to go on, however, and MLB didn't wait too long to respond.
In the sixth, facing sidearmer Chen-Hun Lin, Cano led off with a single, advanced to third on a one-out single by Pablo Sandoval and scored on Paulino's blistering line-drive single that popped out of the glove of Chinese Taipei third baseman Chun-Chieh Wang.
That knotted the game at 3, allowing MLB to take over in the seventh, and relievers Rich Thompson, Ramon Ramirez and Bill Bray finished it off from there with four scoreless innings.
Chinese Taipei manager Wei-Chen Chen, while noticeably shaken by Lo's injury, said he felt the game was a step in the right direction for Taiwan baseball.
"I felt that the hitters were doing a lot better today, getting more hits against the Major League pitchers, although most of them were singles and we needed some extra-base hits," Chen said through an interpreter.
"We didn't have a big inning, and we also made too many errors. We have to get better in the field to compete at this level. Major League hitters hit the ball so hard, and our fielders aren't ready to react to it. It's something we need to work on."
But the events of the game were almost forgotten afterward, when both teams were more concerned with an injured member of the worldwide baseball brotherhood.
"Hopefully [Lo] will be all right," Reddick said. "It's sad to see the way that happened with a guy playing the game like it should be played -- 100 percent."