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Around the Horn In Asia: Notes On the CPBL and NPB

 Conor Liguori  |    Apr 2nd, 2024 9:35am EDT

Jo Hsi Hsu of Wei Chuan Dragons pitches in the top of the first inning during the CPBL game between Rakuten Monkeys and Wei Chuan Dragons at Taipei Dome on March 30, 2024 in Taipei, Taiwan. (Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images)

The opening weekend of the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan and Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan were filled with exciting moments and significant headlines.  

Here are the major headlines and top performers from this past weekend in the CPBL and NPB.  

Chinese Professional Baseball League  

Opening Game Sets CPBL Attendance Record – A record-setting 28,618 fans were in attendance at the Taipei Dome in Taiwan on Saturday for the CPBL’s 2024 season-opening game between the defending champion Wei Chuan Dragons and the Rakuten Monkeys. The Dragons won the game 3-2.  

The previous league record for attendance was set on Oct. 11, 2003, when Chengcing Lake Baseball Stadium in Kaohsiung hosted 20,500 fans for game one of the Taiwan Series between the Sinon Bulls and Brother Elephants.  

According to Focus Taiwan, the CPBL’s six organizations will take turns hosting 35 games this season at the Taipei Dome, which opened in December 2023 and is Taiwan’s only indoor baseball stadium.  

Top Performer  

Hsu Jo-hsi, RHP, Wei Chuan Dragons – Hsu allowed no earned runs and struck out five in five innings in the 3-2 win against the Rakuten Monkeys. Just 23, Hsu was named the 2023 CPBL Taiwan Series MVP for Wei Chuan.  

“I’m glad we could play at a venue like the Taipei Dome, and I am very honored to have been the starting pitcher in the season opener,” Hsu told reporters after the game.  

Although Saturday’s game was the first official regular-season CPBL game played at the Taipei Dome, the right-hander had previous experience at the venue, making two appearances for Chinese Taipei in the 2023 Asian Baseball Championship.   

On This Day in CPBL History – On April 1, 2023, the CTBC Brothers host Peng Cheng-min night.  

Peng played his entire career with the Brothers from 2001-19 and hit .333 with 192 home runs in 1,800 games. He was selected first overall in the 2001 CPBL draft and named the 2010 CPBL MVP of the Year Award.  

Nippon Professional Baseball  

Giants Shutout Tigers for 25 Innings – The Yomiuri Giants set a new franchise record by shutting out the Hanshin Tigers for 25 straight innings in their three-game series against the defending champions over the weekend per Japan Ball.  

After taking the first two games of the series, 4-0 and 5-0, the Giants’ pitching staff had permitted a run when allowing five in the last two innings of the 5-0 loss against the Tigers on Sunday.  

Shosei Togo was the starting pitcher in Friday’s 4-0 win for the Giants, completing six innings and allowing four hits while striking out five.  

Foster Griffin took the ball on Saturday and posted a similar performance to Togo’s, allowing six hits and striking out five in 6.1 innings in the 5-0 win.  

Top Performer  

Ryuki Watarai, OF, Yokohama DeNA BayStars – Watarai, a rookie outfielder with the BayStars, hit home runs in back-to-back wins this weekend against the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. He became the first rookie in NPB history to hit home runs in the first two games of a season.  

Watarai went 1-for-4 with a three-run home run in the third inning of Yokohama’s 4-3 win over the Carp on Friday and went an impressive 4-for-4 with a two-run home run in the fourth inning in a 6-1 win on Saturday.  

Watarai was selected second overall by the BayStars in the 2023 NPB Amateur Draft behind only pitcher Hayato Tsunehiro of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.  

On This Day in NPB History – On April 1, 1970, former Nishitetsu Lions pitcher Masayuki Nagayasu revealed in a tape-recorded interview with the Shukan Post newspaper that he was not the only player on the team taking bribes to throw games.  

The NPB questioned seven additional Lions players, including pitchers Masayuki Ikenaga, Yoshinobu Yoda, and Akio Masuda. The three players were banned from NPB for life.