Lamigo Monkeys second baseman Kuo Yen-wen set a new Taiwanese professional baseball record in Sunday’s contest against the Chinatrust Brothers when he slapped a double into the right field corner in the second inning to hit fair balls in 32 consecutive games.
Kuo broke the CPBL record established by the then-Brother Elephants outfielder Lin Yi-tseng in a 31-game hitting streak in 1997.
The 26-year-old Tainan native began his record-breaking streak on May 3, with at least one hit in games over the past two months and several multiple-hit games, including going five-for-five with four RBIs in an encounter against the EDA Rhinos on June 16.
Nicknamed “Smiling Kuo” by fans for his habitual grin, the Lamigo second baseman went two-for-four on Sunday night against the Chinatrust Brothers.
However, Chinatrust batters collectively had a better offensive output on the day, cranking out 17 hits to rout the Lamigo Monkeys 13-4.
“I tried not to be nervous, and just waited for a good ball to hit. Then I got the double and ran to second base — at first I was elated, but then my body began to tighten up because of the nervous feeling bottled up inside,” Smiling Kuo said in a post-game interview about his second inning.
The game was temporarily stopped at that point for Kuo to receive a bouquet of flowers, accompanied by a prolonged standing ovation from home Lamigo fans at the Taoyuan International Stadium.
Lamigo team manager Hung Yi-chung said that Kuo has matured over the five years since he returned to play in Taiwan after two difficult years in the Cincinnati Reds’ 1A farm team.
“We have seen him progress through five seasons to become a more mature person playing with more confidence. He handled the pressure very well during the hitting streak, because the focus of opposing teams and fans was on him over recent weeks,” Hung said.
Smiling Kuo is to have the chance to extend his streak at home tomorrow in a scheduled game against the Uni-President Lions in Taoyuan.
Sunday’s contest received extensive media coverage, because it also featured the CPBL debut of former MLB All-Star pitcher Jose Contreras, who won the World Series with the Chicago White Sox in 2005.
Contreras, 43, was signed by the Chinatrust Brothers last month, although some questioned his pitching prowess and ball velocity due to his age.
The Cuban right-hander dispelled all doubts by picking up the win in his first CPBL start, as he went five innings to allow only four hits and two earned runs with two walks and two strikeouts.
In the other contest on Sunday, cleanup hitter Kao “The Green Tank” Kuo-ching struck late with a walk-off RBI single in extra-innings to lead the Uni-President Lions to a 3-2 win over the EDA Rhinos at Hsinchu City Stadium.
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