- CTBC Brothers 9, Uni-Lions 1
SERIES TIED 1–1
- Win: José De Paula (1–0)
- Loss: Tim Melville (0–1)
- MVP: De Paula
- Location: Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium
Stress? Not Necessary When De Paula’s on the Mound
It wasn’t José De Paula’s sharpest day since arriving in Taiwan this April, but you can’t blame him for having to adjust to the experience.
In fact, more so than every other foreign player to join CPBL’s brand of baseball this season, De Paula’s consistently dazzling performances on the mound has allowed him to earn the benefit of the doubt in early game situations.
Simply put, in an early-game scenario where a pitcher is struggling, some pitchers make everybody start to sweat, and some pitchers gain the trust of coaches, fans, and teammates alike. With the league lead in wins, strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP, De Paula’s made no secret in that he falls into the second category.
This is all just to reinforce the following: You’d be forgiven for not worrying too much when the early part of the game was a bit rough for him.
The fact is, though, that De Paula’s early battles didn’t exactly go to plan – it was the second inning where De Paula had to take a deep breath and pitch to Mayaw Ciru with runners on the corners of the bases – and that at-bat ended in frustration for him as Ciru lined one into left field to score Lin An-Ko in a play that opened the game’s scoring. There was still no one out in the inning.
But De Paula kept things under control. He managed to parkour his way through the rest of that inning following a quick visit to the mound, and the rest of the game was an opportunity for redemption.
And well, you saw the headline.
That’s the reason that De Paula’s become that big name for the CTBC Brothers. That’s the reason Brothers fans were so puzzled when he wasn’t announced as the starter for game one of the Taiwan Series.
To recap properly, the 32-year old recovered as well as he could have following the early tension, striking out nine and only giving up four hits in an eight-inning winning performance that was worthy of the game’s MVP title. De Paula’s game ERA was 1.12, a number that would’ve lowered his already league-leading regular season ERA of 3.20.
He just brings absolutely dominant stuff, even when the chess game within the baseball game presents the toughest mental scenarios.
Second Inning Trouble Overshadows Solid Melville Outing
His counterpart in this game, Tim Melville, has followed a similar story in the second half of the 2020 CPBL season in that he’s been reliable, but it’s also been different.
The biggest thing to remember, really, is that Melville’s only had that half-season to adjust to the league, so the big stage was always going to be a tougher climb than it would’ve been for De Paula. Whether it’s fair or not, the pathway to game two was always going to be a factor in the game itself.
Melville’s recent MLB experience was the potential counter to that argument, but even that isn’t much help when factoring in that his biggest boom-or-bust element is his strike-zone control.
Melville managed to find the key to overcoming that in October.
He gave up only the one earned run all month long, but on the first day of the new calendar, the second inning was even less kind to him than it was for De Paula.
Much like De Paula, Melville was up to the challenge when it came to recovery.
Much like De Paula, Melville actually didn’t give up a run after his second inning.
He wasn’t tremendous by any stretch, but he gave the Uni-Lions several innings to recover offensively – which, of course, wasn’t in the cards thanks to De Paula.
And yes, it’s easy to say that Melville was pretty good for most of the game, but it’s also a fact that the second inning happened, and it was a 5-run frame to forget for the Virginia-born right-hander. In the event the series goes to five games, Melville may have a chance to redeem himself on an even bigger stage – and there’s a very good chance he’s already thinking about that opportunity-to-come.
He’s adjusted so naturally to the games in Taiwan that seeing him end his 2020 season like this doesn’t seem like the storybook ending.
Brothers Win Thanks To a Pair of Homers From… Brothers
One of the reasons the second inning was so tough for Tim Melville was, in a single word, brothers.
Yes, brothers. Not “Brothers,” although they both play for the Taichung-based squad – instead, the highlight of the inning featured literal brothers.
First, it was Yueh Tung-Hua, the team’s fourth-year second baseman, hitting a two-run home run to right field on an 0–1 Melville pitch. Later in the inning, younger brother Yueh Cheng-Hua hit one to a very similar place in Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium to cement his place as the youngest hitter to ever go deep in the Taiwan Series at 19 days, 277 days.
It was a special moment, and it generated a loud stadium for good reason – it was the first time ever that brothers had homered in a Taiwan Series game.
The honour of most prominent brother teammates may still belong to Guardians duo Kao Kuo-Hui and Kao Kuo-Lin, but this is a record that will always belong to a fourth-year infielder and a rookie outfielder.
Inserting Myself into the Conversation: My Takes on the Day’s Game
- The biggest strength for De Paula today in my mind was his ability to recover from high-pressure situations. Not only did he manage to overcome some light control issues, he also kept his pitches from being overthrown in a game where he definitely had a few pitches moving upward in the strike zone. He also battled with a very strange strike zone from the home plate umpire, and managed to keep his cool despite some really questionable calls.
- After Melville’s roller coaster game, it was Pan Wei-Lun’s audition for higher leverage games later in the series. After a weak year as a starter, the Uni-Lions have been trying him out as a reliever in various spots – but if this was a test to see if he’s a fit for close games later in the series, it didn’t go well. He was visibly struggling before a massive Su Wei-Ta pinch-hit home run, and that home run was, to use a phrase that’s not dissimilar to a cliche, “absolutely crushed.” The 18-year veteran Pan Wei-Lun has an admirable career behind him, and perhaps there’s still good moments to come for him, but it won’t be in this series.
- Speaking of Su Wei-Ta, there’s no obvious place for him in a starting lineup that includes current everyday first baseman (and October batting MVP) Hsu Chi-Hung and current designated hitter Chou Szu-Chi. Both are absolutely key for the Brothers, but the team seems intent on giving at least one at-bat a game to Su Wei-Ta, and it’s hard to blame them. He’s looked really strong offensively, and he had a great moment defensively. in game one as well.
- It doesn’t matter who’s on the mound – The Uni-Lions need more from leadoff man Chen Chieh-Hsien, who’s without a hit in this series so far after leading the league with 170 (.360 AVG) in the regular season.
- Both teams, in my view, could do with a slight lineup shuffling. The Uni-Lions should consider moving Lin An-Ko up in the order after two strong games, especially considering his recent flexibility (an infield single, a bunt single for the 2020 home run leader). On the other side, it was a strong day for Brothers shortstop Chiang Kun-Yu, and I’d like to see him moved up into the second spot in the batting order instead of Pan Chih-Fang (game one) or Chen Tzu-Hao (game two).
- Game three will feature the Brothers starting the league’s highest-paid pitcher in Ariel Miranda, and if he does well, they’ll be in a good spot to be using Huang En-Sih for Game 4. That is, unless the teams use the off day as an excuse to roll with their game one starters. In any case, Miranda can make their decision a lot easier with a game three win. Huang En-Sih was excellent in the first half, and even though his second half was shakier, he’s still the fourth best starter on the Brothers roster.
- The Uni-Lions are going to counter with Teddy Stankiewicz. Stankiewicz was seen by many to be a favourite for the Game 1 start, and he’s been mostly good in the second half for the Uni-Lions (3.81 ERA).
- We also finally saw C.C. Lee out of the bullpen in the ninth inning for the Brothers, and to be brutally honest, that makes yesterday’s decision not to use him in either the ninth or the tenth look worse. I understand using him in game two to keep him fresh with live game experience, but he should’ve been called upon in game one.
- There was a replay review in the game relating to a play at second base, and although the limited angles on the broadcast made it look like the umpiring crew got the “out” call correct, some photos have apparently emerged disputing this. It would not be the only umpiring issue of the game, as mentioned with De Paula’s obvious on-field irritations with the strike-zone.
- @ CTBC Brothers – please don’t run into any more outs on the base paths. It cost them a run today.
Game three of the series rolls at 6:35 PM Taiwan time on Tuesday, November 3rd. That’s 5:35 AM Eastern time. The game will be viewable with English commentary on the Eleven Sports Taiwan Twitter account. The broadcast will feature commentators Jacky Lee and Adam Wang.
After the game, English-language highlights will be available on Twitter from the official CPBL account, narrated by Daniel Shih.