Tue, Nov 09, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Bulls jump ahead in Taiwan Series on solid pitching

By Paul Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Osvaldo Martinez silenced the President Lions' bats and the 11,000-plus hostile Tainan crowd with 6-2/3 innings of near-flawless pitching as the Sinon Bulls won Game 2 of the Taiwan Series by a final score of 3-1 on Sunday night.

The road win gave the Bulls a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven championship series against the first half champions and set what many had thought to be the closest postseason matchup play in league history into a potential blowout heading into tonight's Game 3 in Taichung, where over 15,000 rowdy Bulls' fans await the hapless Lions.

Despite his mediocre regular season record against the big cats (1-2 with a 6.10 ERA in two starts and seven relief appearances), Martinez took his game to another level by four-hitting the Lions with six strikeouts in 6-2/3 frames of work.

Except for Lions' third baseman Wu Jia-rong (吳佳榮), who accounted for three of the four hits that Martinez surrendered, the righty from the Dominican Republic was in full control of his game.

He would have had the shutout if it were not for a pitch that sailed wide in the bottom of the first which scored the runner from third for the Lions' only run of the game.

Equally stunning compared to Martinez's lead act was Bulls reliever Jeff Andra's 2-1/3 innings of perfect relief.

The American righty followed his two innings of hitless relief in Game 1 with another spectacular outing by retiring all seven batters he faced for his second straight save in as many games.

Lions' brief lead

Taking advantage of Martinez's first-inning wild pitch, the Lions actually took an early 1-0 lead until the top of the fourth, when Bulls' designated hitter Tseng Hua-wei (曾華偉) knotted the game up at 1-1 with a sharp grounder that shot through the left gap of a drawn-in Lions' infield to score the runner from third.

Cleanup man Chang "Prince of the Forest" Tai-shan (張泰山) and shortstop Cheng Jau-hang (鄭兆行) then gave the Bulls a 3-1 lead in the top of the fifth with a run-scoring double and single, respectively -- a lead that they would not relinquish the rest of the way.

With his three hits in the game, Chang took over the top spot in most career championship series hits with 44 and counting, surpassing Lions' designated hitter Luo Ming-ching's (羅敏卿) record of 41.

Luo will probably need to play a whale of a game in the remaining contests of the series if he wishes to retake the record from Chang, since the Lions' all-time "hitting king" will retire after this season.

Right-hander Pan "Du Du" Wei-luen (潘威倫) allowed three runs on 10 hits over seven long innings in his first career postseason start -- a sub-par effort compared to his 3-2 regular season record with an 1.8 ERA in six starts against the big cats.

"Pan definitely pitched well enough to win; I am not too concerned with our pitching," Lions skipper Hsieh Chang-hern (謝長亨) said after the game. "It was the lack of hitting that we need to take care of in a hurry."

The former Lions' pitching icon, who led the Lions to four titles in his playing days during the 1990s, will try to rally his troops for Game 3.

Only one team has been able to overcome a 0-2 series deficit to win the title in the 11 championship series thus far.

In a year that is filled with broken curses and history-defying plays, the Lions may be the club that will prove history wrong.

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