Fri, Oct 18, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Monkeys on cusp of another title

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The Lamigo Monkeys’ Lin Li bats in Game 5 of the Taiwan Series against Brothers Baseball Club at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium yesterday.

Photo: Liao Yao-tung, Taipei Times

The Lamigo Monkeys last night demonstrated why they are the nation’s top team with strong pitching and hitting as they took an insurmountable lead in Game 5 of the Chinese Professional Baseball League’s season-ending Taiwan Series against Brothers Baseball Club at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium.

Leading 19-1 after the sixth inning as of press time last night, the Taoyuan-based Monkeys were poised to take a third consecutive championship title, barring a major reversal.

Entering the game leading 3-1 in the championship series, Lamigo hitters ignited their offense from the opening frame, notching nine runs over 12 batters as they battered two pitchers.

The biggest blows in the opening onslaught were a grand slam by catcher Liu Shih-hao and, a few batters later, third baseman Lin Li, who drilled a three-run shot.

The Brothers responded with only one run and the deficit had grown to 15-1 after the fourth inning as the Monkeys maintained their momentum for a blowout.

The Monkeys have sealed their place as the best team of the decade, having won the Taiwan Series title six times since 2012.

The club is next season to be renamed the Rakuten Golden Eagles following a sale to Tokyo-based e-commerce giant Rakuten, which said that the team would still play home games at the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium.

In Game 4 on Wednesday at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium, the Monkeys scored six late runs to turn a tight game into a big victory, seizing a 15-8 triumph.

The big bat of Lamigo shortstop Kuo Yen-wen did major damage, as he blasted two home runs, a grand slam in the fifth inning and a solo shot for five RBIs on the night, and was deservedly voted to receive the most valuable player award for the game.

“When hitting it, I did not know if the ball would go out, but it did and was probably helped by the wind,” Kuo said.

“I was just trying to hit it hard and get on base for my team to win, as every game is crucial in the championship series,” he added.

It was a tight affair throughout most of the proceedings on Wednesday, with both sides trading runs early.

The visiting Lamigo Monkeys were ahead 8-6 in the fifth frame.

Two innings later, the Monkeys added one run, but Brothers outfielder Chang Chih-hao scored two runners on a double to narrow the gap to 8-9.

In the eighth frame, the Monkeys piled on five runs, capped by Kuo’s solo homer and outfielder Chen Cheng-wei’s triple to drive in two runners.

Chen scored another run in the ninth inning to complete the 15-8 victory.

“I will not make any major changes for the next game, although we only need one more victory to clinch the title,” Lamigo head coach Hong Yi-chung said after the game.

“We take every game seriously. For me, it is just like Game 1, so we will go for victory and not think about another game this weekend,” he added.

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