Postseason play in the Chinese Professional Baseball League will begin in Tainan tonight with the President Lions hosting the Sinon Bulls in Game 1 of the Playoff Series.
The best-of-five, first-round action, from which the winners will advance into the 2006 Taiwan Series to take on regular season champs the La New Bears, is expected to go the distance as the potent Sinon attack faces the stingy Lions pitching in an evenly matched showdown.
Taking the mound for the Lions will be red-hot lefty Jeriome Robertson who, with a 2-0 record against the Bulls over two starts and a relief appearance during the regular season, is expected to go up against the Bulls' Alfredo Gonzalez, who holds a deceptive 2-3 record with a solid 2.64 ERA in his six starts and three relief outings versus the Lions over the course of the regular season.
While the pitching may favor the Lions slightly in the all-important series opener, the Bulls will definitely have the upper hand at the plate with the league's top home run hitter Chang "Prince of the Forest" Tai-shan leading an attack that batted .273, second only to the Bears' league-best .284 team batting average.
The "Prince" will have plenty of support in this postseason from teammates Huang Chung-yi and Chang Jien-ming, whose .348 and .284 batting averages respectively will pose a serious challenge to the pitching of a team which recorded an ERA of 3.04 during the regular season.
Speed around the bases may be another factor in the expected pitchers' duel tonight, which means the team that can advance its runners more efficiently either by means of its base-stealing ability or being able to stretch a long single into a close double will undoubtedly have the upper hand.
How the Lions outfield fares defensively could also have a bearing on the outcome of the game, since the Sinon base runners will look to run on every opportunity, testing the throwing arms of Liu Fu-hao, Yang Song-hsuen and Kuo Dai-chi.