Good pitching and defense, timely hitting, and team speed propelled China over its rival, Taiwan, in a 4-1 victory that kept China’s hopes alive in the 2009 WBC.
Oh, and having Kansas-born Raymond Chang on their team didn’t hurt, either. Chang was outstanding again in this game. He played good defense at shortstop, augmented by two RBI on three hits, including an eighth-inning home run.
The Chinese capitalized on opportunities, three times reaching base on infield hits, stealing three bases and generally making good contact off the pitchers from Taiwan. Another offensive star was designated hitter Fenglian Hou with three hits of his own.
The starting pitcher for China, Jiangang Lu, went a strong 5 1/3 innings, walking just one batter and striking out two. Lu had great command and kept the Taiwanese batters off balance with a decent curve and a nice forkball.
Taiwan’s only run of the game came in the sixth inning when Lu ran out of gas, leaving the game with runners on first and third. Lefty reliever Tao Bu allowed the inning’s third single to plate a run for Taiwan.
By North American baseball standards, Taiwan and China have a long way to go to be competitive internationally. Lacking power at the plate, they must scratch out runs with excellent baserunning. Good pitching and defense are likewise essential, and both teams cannot afford mistakes.
China will next face the loser of the game between Korea and Japan. An upset victory that would carry the Chinese to the next round in San Diego is unlikely, but in baseball, anything can happen. Stay tuned.