The highly anticipated "number 100" finally came for the Sinon Bulls' third baseman Chang Tai-shan (張泰山) at the Hsinchuang County Stadium on Tuesday night and President Lions' rookie pitcher Pan wei-luen (潘威倫) was the victim.
With no outs and one runner on base in the top of the sixth, Chang dug into a high fastball to deep-right for an opposite-field home run to tie the game at two all. The run jumpstarted a comeback that eventually brought the Bulls to an 8-2 victory.
Chang is the youngest player in league history to join the prestigious "century club," whose three other members are Lin Chung-chiou (
Just two nights after Chang had taken the slider from the Brother Elephants' Jonathan Hurst for a long ride over the right-center fence in Taichung for his 99th career home run, the 26-year-old native of Taitung came up big against their archrivals on Tuesday.
Overcoming the anxiety leading up to number 100, Chang has shown that he has poise necessary to become a "big time" player.
While some may take Chang's skill for granted, those who have been there know how tough it can be. It took Lions designated hitter and hitting coach Lou Ming-ching, the only other active player with 100 home runs, over four months to finally hit his 100th out of the park. Many actually wondered if Lou could do it at all, during his four-month home-run drought.
"Look at the time gap between Lou's 99th and 100th and then look at the two days that took Chang to do the same thing" Richard Wang, CPBL's director of international affairs told the Taipei Times. "Knowing how great a power hitter Lou is, I can only imagine the things to come with Chang."
Despite his record-breaking performance, the ever-so humble Chang reminded reporters in the post-game news conference about keeping things in perspective.
"I am glad this monkey is off my back, but this is just another milestone for me," Chang said. "I need to do well for our team so that we can get into the postseason playoffs."
Chang is on pace to hit over 30 homers during the 90-game season.
Bulls 8, Lions 2
Tuesday's contest in Hsinchuang between the Bulls and the Lions not only featured Chang Tai-shan's 100th career homer, but also brought the Bulls back on top in league standings. The Bulls' 8-2 victory moved them past the Lions in the standings for the first time in over two weeks, thanks to eight unanswered runs on the Bulls' part.
The Lions never got back on track after surrendering their 2-0 lead to Chang's game-tying home run. Ace closer Tsao Chung-yang (曹竣揚) took the tough loss after blowing his first save of the season.
Bulls 7, Lions 6
On Wednesday night, the Bulls picked up where they left off and beat the Lions again by a score of 7-6.
The vicious Bulls attack spoiled Lion starter Joe Davenport's bid to be the first eight-game winner in the league by scoring all seven runs against the right-hander from the US. Led by catcher Yeh Chun-chang (葉君璋), whose 4-for-4 performance earned him his first game-MVP of the season, the Bulls' offense gave starter Tsai Chung-nan (蔡仲南) just enough run support to claim his fourth victory of the season.
CPBL action will take place at opposite ends of the country this weekend. Down 0-2 in the four-game series against the Bulls, the Lions will host their rivals from Taichung for two games in Tainan today and tomorrow in a crucial battle for first place in the league standings.