Panama Blows Out Taiwan In Teams’ WBC Openers

Image credit: Jahdiel Santamaria (Getty Images)

Panama 12, Taiwan 5

What Happened: A trio of excellent catches by third baseman Jose Caballero, left fielder Allen Cordoba and right fielder Luis Castillo helped out the Panamanian pitching staff, but it was a shockingly robust Panama lineup that was the story of the Pool A day one nightcap. Nine different Panamanian hitters got hits. The biggest was Jahdiel Santamaria’s two-run double in the fourth that propelled a five-run inning. Taiwan’s bullpen was its biggest issue as Panama blew the game open with six more runs in the sixth. Giants prospect Kai-Wei Teng threw only one strike in seven pitches. He walked one batter, hit another and had a throwing error on an attempted sac bunt before being pulled. His replacement Jyun-Yue Tseng was no better. Tseng threw 11 strikes in 23 pitches as he walked two and gave up RBI singles to Jonathan Arauz and Ruben Tejeda. Taiwan did rally to keep the game from being called for the 10-run mercy rule after the seventh.

Stars of the Game: Santamaria, a one-time Braves minor leaguer who was released having just reached High-A in 2010, went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, two doubles and two RBIs.

Prospect Of Note: Teng once ranked on the Giants Top 30 prospects list, but has dropped off because of control problems. Those were quite apparent in his seven-pitch, one-strike outing. 

What It Means: As the host team in what was viewed as a wide-open Pool A, Taiwan was expected to have a solid path to advance out of the five-team pool. But now, it not only has a bad opening game loss, it did so while having to use eight pitchers. Former Rays prospect and Taiwan starter Chih-Wei Hu threw 63 pitches so he can’t pitch again in the first round because of the WBC’s pitch limit and days of rest rules. Panama didn’t have anyone throw over 50 pitches, so starter Humberto Mejia and Randall Delgado could return to pitch later in the first round. The first tiebreaker in any three-way ties is runs allowed divided by outs, so Taiwan’s 12-runs allowed also puts them in bad shape for any tiebreakers. The win is a great step towards ensuring that Panama can avoid having to qualify for the next World Baseball Classic, but after such a convincing win, the team also has a real shot to advance with games against Italy, Cuba and the Netherlands still on their schedule.

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