Thu, Mar 23, 2006 - Page 19 News List

MLB veteran makes anticlimactic debut

LOCAL HERO The Lions beat the Bears on Tuesday as the nation's first Major Leaguer failed to cash in on a great RBI opening in his Taiwanese professional debut

By Paul Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

La New Bears slugger Chen Chin-fong prepares to swing away at a pitch in Tuesday's season opener against the President Lions at Kaohsiung.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LA NEW BEARS

The long awaited Taiwanese professional debut for Chen Chin-fong was somewhat disappointing as the La New Bears fell 4-1 to the President Lions at Kaohsiung on Tuesday night.

Despite collecting his first career hit on a liner right at Lions starter Pan "Du Du" Wei-luen that resulted in an infield hit in the bottom of the seventh, Taiwan's first Major Leaguer could not make good on a great RBI opportunity in the eighth when his check swing on a 2-1 slider from Lions reliever Tseng Yi-cheng with the bases loaded was called for a third strike.

Lions catcher Kao Cheng-hua got his team on the board in the top of the second with a two-run home run to deep-left off La New starter Gustavo Martinez.

The big cats then added to their lead by one in the fifth when second baseman Yang Seng's groundout to second scored the runner on third. It was a two-base throwing error by Martinez on a pickoff attempt that allowed the runner to advance to third from first earlier in the inning.

Down 3-0, the home Bears finally broke through in the top of the eighth on rookie designated hitter Wang Jien-chiang's leadoff homer off Pan to make it 3-1. They seemed ready to make it a big inning when back-to-back hits following the homer and a walk would load the bases with the heart of the order due up. But the Lions managed to keep the damage to a minimum by collecting three crucial outs without surrendering another run, starting out the 2006 season on a big bang.

Pan was credited with the win for tossing seven innings of one-run ball. He allowed five hits and a walk, while fanning six in a quality start.

As for Martinez, the five walks issued by the Dominican righty over five and one-third innings of work proved too much for his hitters to overcome. He allowed three runs (two earned) in his first Taiwan appearance.

Elephants 6, Whales 4

Yofu Tetsu pitched seven strong innings of three-run ball (only one earned run) to help guide the Brother Elephants to a 6-4 season-opening win over the Chinatrust Whales in Douliou on Tuesday.

The Japanese veteran, who led the Elephants to a Taiwan Series title in 2001 with 11 wins, was rock solid in his return to Taiwan after missing the past four seasons with a long minor-league stint in the US.

The game began with the Elephants striking first in the bottom of the first on a two-run double by designated hitter Chen Guan-ren off Whales starter Rafael Garcia.

Even though the Whales would answer with a three-run second on a pair of singles and Elephants errors to claim a 3-2 lead, the Elephants offense was able to come right back in the third, this time on a string of run-scoring singles and a sacrifice fly off Whales reliever Hsieh Cheng-hsuin.

The 6-3 Elephants advantage stood until the top of the ninth when catcher Wang Hsin-min's liner up the middle scored Chen Jia-hong who doubled to leadoff the inning. That was as close as marine creatures got as the Elephants quickly turned a double play on the ensuing play and nailed the win on a game-ending groundout to short.

Garcia was tagged with the loss for allowing all of the Elephants runs in the game's first three innings. Failure on the part of the Whales hitters ultimately led to the loss, despite the nine hits they rang up off the Elephants staff.

The win for the Elephants marked manager Wu Si-shien's first on his managerial debut, giving the longtime assistant coach some needed credibility in a time where the clubhouse is filled with much uncertainty and injuries. Three players from the Elephants' regular lineup sat out the season opener due to various injuries.

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