2009 Taiwan Series
The 2009 Taiwan Series featured a rematch of the 2008 Taiwan Series with the Brother Elephants and Uni-President Lions. As in 2008, the Lions won, for their third straight title. Luther Hackman (3-0, 3.60) of the Lions was named Series MVP for the second straight season, the first player to accomplish that in consecutive Series.
The Lions had the best overall record (63-54-3) and the best first-half record (34-24-2) but had gone under .500 in the second half. Notable players included batting champion Wu-Hsiung Pan (.367), veteran slugger Lien-Hung Chen (4th in the league with 76 RBI) and import Jose Castillo (4th with 20 steals) on offense. Wei-Lun Pan led the league with a 3.30 ERA and tied for 4th with 10 wins. Yueh-Ping Lin paced the CPBL with 26 saves. They are managed by Wen-Sheng Liu.
The Elephants had the worst overall record (54-63-3) in the four-team league but won a spot in the Series with a dominant second half (33-25-2, the only team with a winning record in the second half). Their top hitter was former multiple batting champion Cheng-Min Peng (.366, 2nd in the league and 17 homers, tied for 4th). They had the league's top three in steals with Sheng-Wei Wang (42 SB), Peng (25) and Cheng-Wei Huang (20). Yu-Cheng Liao was third in wins (11) and second in ERA (3.31). Ryan Cullen was second with 20 saves. They are managed by Shin Nakagomi.
- October 19: 2008 Taiwan Series MVP Luther Hackman got the call for the Lions and tossed a solid game, allowing 2 runs in five innings, as his team won 5-4. Yu-Cheng Liao walked five and surrendered four runs in 4 2/3 innings in taking the loss. Fu-Hao Liu hit a 2-run homer in the 4th for the big blow, taking home game MVP honors.
- October 20: The Lions took a 2-0 lead in the Series. Wei-Lun Pan dueled Mike Smith evenly for five innings.
In the first, 1B Kuo-Ching Kao singled in a run off Smith to put the Lions up 1-0. In the second, Elephants OF Kuan-Jen Chen hit a solo shot off Pan to even the score. It was the only tally Pan gave up in 7 innings; he won Game MVP honors.
With the game still tied at one in the 6th, Smith wore down and his relievers were no sharper as the Lions produced five runs, thanks to four hits and three walks. A double by C Chih-Kang Kao was the biggest hit in the peck-away attack.
- October 20: The Lions almost went ahead 3-0 in the Series before the Elephants rallied to get back into the Series.
Through two innings, the Elephants' Chin-Hui Tsao (a former major leaguer) traded goose eggs with former Nippon Pro Baseball hurler Kenny Rayborn. In the third, the Lions got to Tsao on a single by Sung-Hsuan Yang, a stolen base, an error and a sacrifice fly. The Lions made it 2-0 in the 5th, aided by another error and another sac fly. Tsao left after five, not having given up an earned run. After the game, he called it his second-most exciting outing, after his MLB debut.
Rayborn, in the meantime, shut down the Elephants for 7 innings, leaving with his shutout intact. He was relieved by ace closer Yueh-Ping Lin, who was not effective. With one out, he gave up a single to backup OF Chih-Hsiang Huang. After a single and a walk, OF Kuan-Jen Chen legged out a run-scoring infield hit. Chin-Yong Wang drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game, then 2B Hung-Sen Chu hit a 2-run single to give the Elephants their first lead of the day.
In the 9th, the Lions staged a rally of their own, with a single by Fu-Hao Liu and a home run by PH Nai-Wen Cheng off Ryan Cullen, as the Elephants' closer fared no better than that of the Elephants in protecting a lead.
During the bottom of the 10th, Cheng-Min Peng doubled against Chien-San Kao. A bunt moved Peng to third and Kao issued a walk. Chu then flew to left, but it was not deep enough to score Peng. Shin Nakagomi went to pinch-hitter Chih-Yuan Chen, unable to play the field due to a foot injury. In a Kirk Gibson-style display of grit, Chen singled to right to bring in Peng.
- October 21: The Lions romped to a 11-5 victory at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium to go up 3-1 in the Series. 20,000 fans filled the stadium, the first time it had a sellout crowd in its three-year history.
In the first, the Elephants took the early lead on a 2-run homer by Cheng-Min Peng off Luther Hackman. The Lions got the lead in the third, with a 3-run rally led by a 2-run double by Tai-Chi Kuo. Wu-Hsiung Pan belted a 2-run homer in the 5th and veteran Lien-Hung Chen added a RBI double for a 6-2 Lions edge.
The Elephants came back with one run in the fifth and two in the sixth to close the gap to 6-5. In the 8th, though, the Lions lit up the Elephants bullpen for five runs, with another 2-run double by Kuo figuring in. Kuo won Game MVP honors with his 4-RBI day.
Hackman went the distance despite giving up 11 hits and 5 runs. He threw 153 pitches, the third-most in a Taiwan Series game. He tied the Series record with four straight wins; Ching-Hsin Kuo had accomplished the feat the prior decade. Hackman twice refused requests from his manager to leave the game.
- October 22: The Elephants won in extra innings to prevent the Lions from locking up the Series. With rainy conditions at Hsinchuang Stadium, the two clubs combined for eight errors, including a record-setting seven by the Elephants.
In the fifth, Liao walked the bases loaded. Matt Perisho relieved and escaped the jam by getting a pop-out. During the bottom of the fifth, the Elephants took the lead, as Peng doubled in two more runs.
The Lions tied it in the 8th versus Cullen after not having scored since the first despite the two bases-loaded chances. Tzu-Sung Wang doubled to left; with one away, PH Nai-Wen Cheng grounded through the legs of SS Sheng-Wei Wang to put men on the corners. Wu-Hsiung Pan got an infield hit to score Tzu-Sung Wang with the tying tally.
- October 24: The Series continued to pick up drama as it went along. This game set Series records for inning (17) and duration (6 hours, 14 minutes). The Lions used 22 players, a new Series record, while the 40 total players tied the old mark.
Early on, it looked like the Elephants would cruise to victory. The previous game's hero, Kuan-Jen Chen, singled in two first-inning runs against Kenny Rayborn and then came home on a hit by DH Chin-Yong Wang.
The home team rallied in the bottom of the inning, with OF Wu-Hsiung Pan and DH Lien-Hung Chen knocking in runs with singles against Mike Smith. They tied in the third when Smith walked OF Fu-Hao Liu, who swiped second. A wild pitch put Liu on third, then Fong-Bing Hsu doubled to right to knot the game at three.
The Elephants retook the lead in the fifth when 1B Cheng-Min Peng homered on a Rayborn pitch. They looked to lock it up in the bottom of the 9th with Matt Perisho on the hill. Chen tapped a grounder to second, but Keng-Shin Liu made a crucial miscue. PH Nai-Wen Cheng singled Chen over. Fu-Hao Liu then singled to bring in the runner to tie it.
For the next 8 innings, both teams wasted numerous chances, with the Elephants stranding 10 runners and the Lions 9. The bases were loaded by the Lions in the 13th, the Elephants in the 15th and the Lions in the 16th but neither team managed to score. Overall for the day, the Elephants stranded 19 and the Lions 13.
The two teams broke their record of a game prior with 9 total errors. The 25 combined errors for the Series to this point broke the old mark of 17 set in 2004. The teams had now also turned 18 double plays, breaking the record of 17 from the 2008 Taiwan Series.
No Taiwan Series game had ever gone beyond 14 innings (set in 1991). The game was easily the longest in the history of the Chinese Professional Baseball League; a 2007 CPBL contest had gone 5 hours and 13 minutes, over an hour shorter than this affair.
- October 25: The Lions locked up their third straight title and won their 7th overall Series, breaking a tie with the Elephants for the most ever. Only two other clubs had won three straight Series - the Elephants and the Wei Chuan Dragons.
The Lions took a 2-0 lead in the second off Chin-Hui Tsao and tacked on another in the third. Luther Hackman allowed two runs in the 5th thanks in part to two doubles. That was all Hackman allowed in six innings despite five walks and five hits as he improved to 3-0 on the Series while Tsao took the loss.
Yueh-Ping Lin relieved Hackman and tossed shutout ball for the 7th. The Lions scored twice that inning on a bases-loaded single by 1B Kuo-Ching Kao to move ahead 5-2. When some Lions players ran onto the field to celebrate the scores, pitcher Chih-Chiang Chang was ejected by home plate umpire Chien-Wen Su for entering the field. Lions 1B Tung-Yi Yang was ejected by 1B umpire Ramon Armendariz for giving the finger to the umps; Yang said later that he had merely been holding up two fingers to point out his team had scored twice.
Nerio Rodriguez tossed a scoreless 8th for the Lions. The inning also featured controversy. PH Hung-Sen Chu led off with a long fly that went just foul. Chu had taken off with contact and had rounded first when the ball was ruled foul. When Chu returned to the plate, he was having trouble catching his breath. Su told Chu to get back to the batter's box but the veteran infielder waited outside the box. Su again told Chu to step back in, then signaled to Rodriguez to pitch. As the pitch headed to the plate, Chu stepped in quickly and managed to connect for a liner to short. After being retired, Chu complained to Su, saying he did not have time to catch his breath. Chu bombed Su twice and Su promptly made Chu the third player ejected from the contest.
Elephants players then stormed the field while their fans threw water bottles and other items onto the field. Su explained his viewpoint to Elephants skipper Shin Nakagomi and the Elephants stopped their protest. After over five minutes' delay due to the scene, the game finally resumed. Police in the stadium had to quell several more fan protests.