MLB All-Stars sweep Taiwan series with win
Cano, Wigginton homer to lead big leaguers to close victory
KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan -- The stars of Major League Baseball are heading home after a triumphant trip to Taiwan.
On Sunday, the MLB All-Stars beat the Chien-Ming Wang-led Chinese Taipei national team, 6-4, to sweep the five-game series. The team played one game in Taipei City, two games in Taichung and two here at Cheng-Ching Lake Stadium in Kaohsiung, winning them all despite tough competition from a rapidly improving opponent.
"It was a fun game, and like I said [Saturday], they played better and better against us," said Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, who homered and singled in the series finale. "I like the way they play the game. They play hard. And it's great to see these fans, the way they support the game. Hopefully we can come back, because it's been a lot of fun."
Rockies infielder Ty Wigginton also homered, Angels shortstop Erick Aybar and Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison added RBI doubles and Red Sox outfielder Josh Reddick and Angels catcher Jeff Mathis chipped in with RBI singles in a balanced attack for skipper Bruce Bochy.
Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie (four innings, three earned runs) and relievers LaTroy Hawkins, Rich Thompson of the Angels, the Pirates' Jose Veras and Mark Melancon of the Astros combined to close out Chinese Taipei, which impressed MLB with its toughness.
The MLB All-Stars didn't score more than seven runs in a game, and three of the five games were decided by fewer than three runs.
"Just another good ballgame," Bochy said. "It could have gone either way. ... Sure, we won five games, but you could see their confidence growing and they were playing right there with us. It's good for baseball and for Taiwan."
The MLB All-Stars got off to a good start Sunday afternoon in sweltering heat and high humidity, scoring two runs on four hits in the second inning off Wang, the Taiwanese icon who inked a one-year deal to return to the Washington Nationals on Friday. The right-hander, who admitted Saturday that he's not in top pitching condition, gave up a double to Morrison and a run-scoring single to Reddick, who stole second base. That set up Mathis for his RBI base hit, and Aybar followed with a double that made it 3-0.
But as has often been the case in this series, Chinese Taipei didn't waste much time battling back. Kuan-Wei Yang and Wang-Wei Lin strung together consecutive singles, Fu-Lin Kuo worked a walk to load the bases, and Chih-Fang Pan doubled in two runs. Red Sox outfield prospect Che-Hsuan Lin then drove in the tying run with a fielder's choice groundout.
"The more we're playing them, the better they're playing," said Nationals first baseman Michael Morse, who showed up for the postgame interview in a special Washington moped helmet inspired by Taiwan's favorite commuting vehicle.
"It was a great little exhibition we just did, and I hope it showcased the talent that Taiwan has here, and I hope the fans keep coming out to see that talent. They should be very proud that there are a lot of great baseball players to come."
In the third inning, Wang took the mound once again, but the two-time 19-game winner in the Major Leagues, who came back late last season after missing two years because of major shoulder surgery, was already at his prescribed pitch count and threw one pitch before being removed to a standing ovation.
"He was smart," Bochy said. "He didn't overextend himself. He got his work in. When you've had an injury and been out two years, you're doing the right thing by not trying to do too much out there."
Wang was relieved by left-hander Yao-Hsun Yang, who was greeted on his first pitch with an opposite-field shot off the bat of Cano that gave the MLB All-Stars a 4-3 lead.
Again, however, Chinese Taipei didn't give up, tying the game at 4 in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single by Chih-Pei Huang off reliever Hawkins.
The see-saw game continued in the top of the fifth, when D-backs third baseman Ryan Roberts drew a one-out walk and Morrison cashed him in with a double off the top of the wall in right-center field. Wigginton, who replaced Morse, led off the seventh with a solo shot that capped the scoring.
Thompson held Chinese Taipei scoreless for two innings, Veras pitched a shutout eighth and Melancon closed it out with a scoreless ninth.
"A lot of these are young players playing against the best players in the world, and they were fighting hard," Bochy said.
"It was a great experience for all of us. We've had a great time and it's good for baseball."