Lin "Wild Hog" Hung-yuan (林鴻遠) and Wang Chuan-jia's two-for-four nights, along with starter Jose Alberro's three-hit effort over six-and-a-third spectacular innings, led the President Lions to a 3-1 victory over the Sinon Bulls in Game 4 of the 2004 Ford Focus Taiwan Series on Wednesday night. The win at the Taipei Hsinchuang County Stadium evened the series against their nemesis from Taichung at two-all for the big cats and turned what was once an all-Bulls series into an exciting showdown between the league's top two teams.
It was the second straight game in which Lin Hung-yuan has ripped a pair of hits off the Bulls' pitching staff since being promoted to the starting lineup in Game 3. The eight-year veteran saw his batting average slip from last season's .295 to below .230 in the latter part of this year, prompting skipper Hsieh Chang-hern to demote the natural free-swinger to the minor league for three weeks. It was not until late last month that Lin was called up to join his team for the postseason.
"It [being demoted to the minors] really gave me a chance to think about what my role is in this club and how I can contribute. All I could do was work on my batting mechanics and hope for another opportunity to play in the big league," Lin recalled his days in the minors and what had gone through his mind.
"We needed all the help we could get on offense, so we [coaching staff] decided to bring him back up for his big bat late in the season. I guess that was a good call," Hsieh Chang-hern said regarding Lin's awesome showing at the plate.
Similar to Game 3, Game 4 started with the Lions striking first in the top of the second when catcher Kao Cheng-hua's (
The Bulls would answer with the equalizer in the bottom of the same inning on designated hitter Chen Chung-fu's run-scoring single, after cleanup man Chang "Prince of the Forest" Tai-shan drew a walk to lead off the inning and was bunted over to second in the ensuing play.
Pitching on a three-day rest, ace righty Yang Jien-fu of the Bulls seemed to have lost a bit of the velocity on his fastball, which made his Major League-caliber slider slightly less effective. The second-year hurler, who had been undefeated against the Lions in seven contests this year, including the win in Game 1, was called to start the game on short rest in an attempt to give the Bulls a 3-1 series edge. And the strategy appeared to have paid off for the Bulls with the score tied at one-all until Lin Hung-yuan's sharp liner hit Yang's left knee in the top of the fourth and forced the staff ace to leave the game an inning later.
With Yang bothered by an ailing knee, the Lions immediately tested his ability to field the ball by laying a bunt in front of him in the top of the fifth and benefited right away when he failed to field the ball cleanly, allowing the runner to reach the plate while Yang dropped to his knees in obvious pain.
Back-to-back RBI singles by third baseman Wu Jia-rong (