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Lee blasts countrymen/ 2-run double powers Giants past South Korea

by Jim Allen (Mar 4, 2009)

Lee Seung Yeop reminded his countrymen on Tuesday what they would be missing in the World Baseball Classic.

Lee, who owns an impressive portfolio of big hits for South Korea, beat his countrymen with a two-run double for the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome. Lee's first-inning shot boosted the Giants toward a 3-0 win over his own national team in the final warmup game before the start of the WBC on Thursday.

With two on and two out in the first, Lee drove a pitch off the wall in dead center.

"Although I fell behind in the count, I was only thinking about swinging hard," Lee said. "Although I've been swinging well since camp, I hadn't been getting hits.

"On top of that, I was very excited about tonight's game and was really concentrating at the plate."

South Korea skipper Kim In Sik, who named Lee to his provisional roster, probably wished Lee and the had played ball with him this spring.

"Up until today, I thought our offense was clicking, but today some of their pitchers threw very hard, with some nasty deliveries and worked tough in side," Kim said of his offensive breakdown. "Hopefully we'll be at peak condition after two days off."

With a two-run lead to work with, Giants right-hander Satoshi Fukuda struck out the side swinging in the bottom of the first en route to three scoreless innings.

South Korea starter Yoon Suk Min allowed two runs on four hits and a walk. His successor, Hwang Doo Sung surrendered a solo home run to Alex Ramirez in the third.

South Korea, which went through the 2006 WBC undefeated before losing to Japan in the semifinals, will open this tournament on Friday against Taiwan.

Earlier on Tuesday, Taiwan's pitchers did not look ready in an 11-2 thrashing.

A night after issuing five walks in a 7-6 loss to the Yomiuri Giants, Taiwan's staff reached double digits against the Japan Series champion Saitama Seibu Lions.

"My head hurts," said pitching coach Kuo Tai-yuan, who won 117 games for the Lions between 1985 and 1997. "It's just this [lack of control]. It's embarrassing. All I can do is hope they learn something before the real games start."

The bright spot on the mound for Taiwan was Culture University right-hander Cheng Kai-wen, who struck out three and walked none in two scoreless innings.

"Their pitchers are young with limited experience," said Lions manager Hisanobu Watanabe, who ended his pitching career in Taiwan.

"If they could throw strikes, they could really go for it. However, the most important element of pitching is being aggressive, and I just didn't feel that from them."

Watanabe, whose team finished 3-1 in four WBC warmup games here, threw a pair of veteran lefties, Kazuhisa Ishii and Kazuyuki Hoashi, at Taiwan.

Ishii allowed three hits but no runs in two innings, while Hoashi gave up four hits, including a two-run homer in his three-inning stint.

Chiang Chih-hsien, a 21-year-old who hit .303 with nine homers in the Single-A California League for the Boston Red Sox last season, took Hoashi deep in the fourth inning.

The second baseman had two of Taiwan's 14 hits.

The Hanshin Tigers' Lin Wei-chu had a chance to tie the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first. But with runners on first and second, he lined a pitch from Ishii to right.

"I saw a lot of left-handed pitching today, so that was good practice," the left-handed-hitting Lin said. "We got our share of hits, so the real question is going to be if we can somehow manage to stop our opponents.

"We'll do our best."

The Lions, who suffered their only defeat in four games on Monday, got a big afternoon from the No. 2 spot in the batting order.

Takumi Kuriyama started in center and opened the scoring in the top of the first with an RBI double off losing pitcher Lin Yueh-ping. Kuriyama homered to open the third.

Takayama took over from him in the outfield and contributed at the plate with a walk in the four-run sixth and a two-run homer in the ninth.


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