Opening Results In WBC Provide Few Surprises

Johnny Damon was 1 for 3 with a walk for Thailand - J. Meric

Taiwan wins easily behind Cubs prospect Yao-Lin Wang. Despite Johnny Damon, the Philippines proved to be too much for Thailand.

In the first two games of the World Baseball Classic Taiwan qualifier, Chinese Tapei easily defeated New Zealand 10-0 in a game ending after seven innings because of the mercy rule.. Chinese Tapei's starting and winning pitcher was Cubs prospect Yao-Lin Wang, who threw 3.2 innings of shutout baseball.

In the first game, the Philippine offense took a while to get going, but they eventually put away Thailand 8-2. That game went the full nine innings.

Former Cubs farmhand Lincoln Holdzkom, who mostly played for Double-A West Tennessee in 2006, started for New Zealand and he kept the game close for 3.2 innings. He kept Taiwan off the board in the first two innings before allowing a run in the third on a two-out single by Chien-Ming Chang, which scored Yung-Chi Chen who led off the inning with a hit by pitch and then two bunts put him on third base. Holdzkom then hit the first batter of the fourth inning, Cheng-Ming Peng, who stole second base and went to third on a bad throw. A single by Szu-Chi Chou put Taiwan up 2-0, and Holdzkom exited after 3.2 innings.

New Zealand's other pitchers weren't quite as good as Holdzkom and Chinese Tapei blew the game open with eight runs in the fifth. After that, the Taiwanese pitchers just kept the Diamondblacks off the scoreboard for the next inning and a half before the game ended on the mercy rule.

Almost 10,000 fans showed up at the stadium in New Taipei City to cheer on their national team. From what I saw over the internet, the stadium looked very nice and was probably of Triple-A quality.

New Zealand did provide one highlight, however, as they did perform their famous Haka War Dance.

In the first game between the Philippines and Thailand, the Thai team broke out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning when Nathan Lorentz and Joseph Daru had a couple of infield singles along with a throwing error by Athletics farmhand Ryan Pineda. Thailand's starting pitcher, Kamolphan Kanjanavisut, kept the Philippines scoreless for the first three innings with what looked like a knuckleball, although maybe it was just a wobbly changeup. But in the fourth inning, the Phillipines caught up with his slow stuff and tagged him for three runs. The Philippines would tack on single runs in the fifth and sixth inning and scored three more runs in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

Thailand committed seven errors in this game.

Johnny Damon was 1 for 3 with a walk as the DH for Thailand.

Jon Jon Robles, a native Filipino who apparently pitches professionally in Europe, got the win. He allowed only the one unearned run over 4.1 innings. He walked one and struck out four.

Pineda had three hits for the Philippines as did homegrown third baseman Fernando Laurel.

Tonight, the Panamanian qualifier starts as Brazil will go up against the home team at 7pm Chicago time.

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