Taipei drops exhibition to Chiba

Starter Yang surrenders three long balls in two innings

Starter Chien-Fu Yang allowed four runs in two frames on Tuesday. (Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)

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TOKYO -- Roulette wasn't Chinese Taipei's game on Tuesday afternoon. Taipei manager Hua-Wei Lin used seven different pitchers to get a better feel for his rotation, but he still walked out of Taipei's 6-3 loss to the Chiba Lotte Marines with a few questions about what was supposed to be his team's unquestioned strong point.

Starting pitcher Chien-Fu Yang gave up three solo home runs, including back-to-back shots by Tasuku Hashimoto and Val Pascucci -- who will leave for Italy's World Baseball Classic training camp on March 2 -- and four runs overall in two innings.

"As for our starter, he wasn't very good," Lin said. "We will have to take a closer look at our pitchers. I have to learn more about the conditioning of each."

Chien-Ming Chang was Taipei's second pitcher, and although he kept Lotte off the board for two innings, Lin was also disappointed with Chang's performance.

"He was good, but his ball speed wasn't as good as it was before," he said.

Lotte manager Bobby Valentine said that he hoped Japan's scouts were paying attention to the win.

"Our pitchers threw certain pitches to help the Japanese scouts watching," Valentine said. "I guess I am a little partial."

Valentine has good reason to be on Japan's side for the Classic. Sadaharu Oh's squad has eight Chiba Lotte Marines, including five pitchers. Pascucci will make nine players that Valentine is without for the tournament.

Taipei's hitters weren't able to accomplish much against Marines starter Kosuke Kato and the rest of Lotte's patchwork staff. Cleanup hitter Wei-Chu Lin struck out three times in the loss.

"He wasn't so good," manager Lin said of his left fielder. "He has been good in practice sessions, so I will hope he will do better in games."

Lin said that the lineup Taipei used against Lotte would closely resemble the club's starters for Friday's game against Korea. There's still the question of which pitcher will start, though.

"The coaches need to talk about it," he said. "But the batters had some good points. Still, we can show a better performance."

Feng-Ming Chen had a bases-loaded double in the ninth inning, scoring all of Taipei's runs in a single shot. Left fielder Naotaka Takehara had Lotte's other solo homer, and former New York Met and Asia Series MVP Benny Agbayani had an RBI single.

Stephen Ellsesser is a reporter for The Japan Times and a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.