Wang leads Chinese Taipei to victory in Classic opener
Right-hander tosses six shutout innings; Peng, Lin come through in clutch offensively
TAICHUNG, Taiwan -- Six shutout innings from Chien-Ming Wang and timely hits from sluggers Cheng-Min Peng and Chih-Sheng Lin helped Chinese Taipei to a comfortable 4-1 win against Australia in the opener of the 2013 World Baseball Classic on Saturday.
Kicking off Pool B play, Chinese Taipei gained an early lead in the bottom of first. Dai-Kang Yang of Japan's Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters led off the inning with a single to left, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored when Peng singled through the right side.
The Taiwanese team's fierce offense continued in the bottom of third and forced Australia to replace starter Chris Oxspring with reliever Dushan Ruzic.
Houston Astros farmhand Che-Hsuan Lin lined a single to center and went to second when Peng walked. Chih-Sheng Lin hit a ground-rule double to left, scoring Che-Hsuan Lin. When Szu-Chi Chou grounded out, Peng scored another run, giving Chinese Taipei a 3-0 lead.
Peng put the icing on the cake for Chinese Taipei with a solo home run off Australian reliever Warwick Saupold in fifth.
Peng currently plays for Taiwanese professional baseball's Brother Elephants, and Chih-Sheng Lin won the domestic league home run title with the Lamigo Monkeys last season. Both power hitters played a key role in Chinese Taipei's landslide wins in the Classic qualifying round in November.
Chinese Taipei's smooth victory was partly aided by its strong defense, with three double plays early in the game. Former Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang started and maintained his cool in the six innings he tossed, and he was credited with the win. He gave up only four hits, struck out two and relied on his renowned sinker to subdue the Australian lineup.
"I knew before the game that if Wang could pitch at least five innings -- and he actually stayed on for six -- we would be very likely to win," Taiwanese manager Chang-Heng Hsieh said. "Three double plays certainly helped, and our sluggers all performed well."
After missing the qualifying round, Wang said he was very happy to be back with the national team after a long absence.
"Our infielders and outfielders all helped out today," said Wang, who was unable to secure a new contract with the Nationals last year and is currently a free agent. "Right now I am hoping to give my best to Chinese Taipei ... I am not thinking about getting a [Major League] contract at the moment."
Wang was replaced by Yao-Hsun Yang of Japan's Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, followed by former Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo. Former Cubs farmhand Hung-Wen Chen closed the game with a 1-2-3 inning.
Faced with an overpowering Taiwanese offense, Australia ended up using seven pitchers in the game. The loss went to Oxspring, who surrendered three earned runs on five hits in 2 2/3 innings.
The Aussies earned some consolation when Stefan Welch clubbed a solo home run off Yang in the top of the seventh.
Australian manager Jon Deeble sang the praise of Wang after the game.
"I thought he threw the ball well," Deeble said. "That field, the conditions today were very conducive to his pitching with the wind blowing. It was tough to hit the ball hard to left field."
Despite the loss, Deeble said he remained confident of his team's chances.
"We played a good game. We saw good pitching. If we keep doing what we are doing ... I've got a lot of confidence going into the next game. That has not changed," Deeble said.
The teams played in front of a sold-out crowd of 20,035 at Taichung Intercontinental Stadium.
Chinese Taipei is scheduled to play the Kingdom of the Netherlands on Sunday, while Australia will face Korea on Monday.
Debby Wu is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.