Homers by Lin Chih-sheng and Lin Hung-yu led the way for the Lamigo Monkeys as they humbled the Uni-President Lions in a 4-1 road victory to take the all-important opener in this year’s Taiwan Series at the Tainan Municipal Baseball Stadium last night.
The Primates’ bashing tandem, who many consider the deadliest home run threats in the league, lived up to their billing.
The former lit up the Tainan sky with a towering shot to left that doubled the visitors’ lead to 2-0 in the third, while the latter ended any hope for Lions’ supporters with his two-run blast in the ninth that sealed the deal for his team.
“The pitches that I hit all happened to come into the part of the strike zone that allowed me to fully extend the bat,” Lin Chih-sheng explained after the game.
He was the unanimous choice for the game MVP honor after going 3-for-4 with two of his hits going for extra bases.
Also starring was Monkey starter Mike Loree Jr who outpitched fellow countryman Jon Leicester in an all-American showdown with 7-1/3 innings of one-run ball on three hits to keep a potent Lions offense at bay.
“[Loree] really kept our hitters out of the game,” a disappointed Lions skipper Terushi Nakashima said in the postgame press conference.
The American righty pitched shutout ball through the fifth before surrendering a run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Pan Wu-hsiung following a catchable fly by the Lions’ Liu Fu-hao to deep-center.
This was misjudged by Lamigo centerfielder Chan Chih-yao, but was ruled a double nonetheless to put the runner on.
The Monkeys took the home crowd right out of the game with a run in the opening inning on three quick hits off Leicester.
Even though it was a moral victory for the Lions starter, as he kept the damage to a minimum, the quick run gave the Monkeys players the necessary boost they needed in a hostile Tainan Stadium.
Despite the two early runs, Leicester held his ground through the eighth by retiring all but one of the hitters he faced from the fourth inning on.
However, the Lions hitters did not reward their starter with their usual run support, leaving Leicester nothing but the loss to show for an otherwise solid outing.
Credited with his first postseason win in Taiwan was Loree Jr who will likely get the call again in Game 4 on Wednesday.
The two teams will do battle once more in Game 2 at the Kaohsiung Cheng Ching Lake Baseball Stadium this afternoon, where veteran righty Tseng Jau-hao will take on the Lions’ Eulogio de La Cruz.
The opening pitch is scheduled for 5:05pm as the Monkeys look forward to a big showing from their Kaohsiung fans in a stadium they called home for nearly a decade before moving north to Taoyuan at the start of last season.