Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League All-Stars played the Cuban national team tough throughout Game 2 of the three-game Thunder Series in Taiwan before coming up short in a 1-0 final at the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium last night.
Alfredo Despaigne’s solo blast off Taiwanese starter Lai Hong-cheng (Sinon Bulls) in the bottom of the fourth was the difference in the game as neither offense was able to produce any hits on a consistent basis against solid pitching from both teams. As such, it was another low-scoring affair following Saturday night’s 2-1 victory in favor of the Taiwanese.
The classic pitchers’ duel between Lai and Cuban starter Freddy Alvarez saw the Cubans enjoying the upper hand early on with at least a runner in scoring position against Lai over the two innings. However, the lefty pitched out of both jams to keep it a scoreless tie.
After a relatively calm third, the Cuban bats would come alive in the fourth with Despaigne’s long ball on a belt-high fastball from Lai that sailed over the centerfield wall. Even though the Taiwanese starter would get out of trouble without giving up another run in the inning despite serving up a double following the home run, the damage was already done.
The local boys also had trouble against the bend-but-would-not-break Cuban pitching as they failed to string together more than a hit in a single inning to lose this one by a run in the end.
Picking up the win was Alvarez, who scattered three hits over 6-1/3 shutout innings of play before turning the game over to his bullpen, which ably delivered by combining for 2-2/3 innings of scoreless relief to keep the shutout intact.
Taking the loss was Lai who held his ground well by surrendering a run on five hits while fanning six and walking two over five innings. Other than the home run ball to Despaigne that he served up, the southpaw out of the National Taiwan Sport University was rock solid in an effort that made his country proud.