Well, thanks to a close 4-3 Japanese victory over South Korea, Taiwan still has a slight chance to advance to Beijing. Taiwan must do two things: defeat Japan tomorrow to put the teams in a three-way tie (Korea will win against the Philippines). Then with IBAF tiebreaker rules in place (first one being head-to-head record), Taiwan's pitching staff would have to shut down Japan's lineup since the second tiebreaker rule calls into play: runs against per innings played on defense in the games between the tied teams to decide rankings. So essentially, in order to win the 2007 Asian Championships, Taiwan (5 RA/9Innings) would have to beat Japan (3 RA/9 Innings) by more than 2 runs and hold Japan scoreless over 9 innings to take the tiebreaker over SK (6 RA/ 18 Innings). In the event that Taiwan wins, but the RA/Innings is still tied for any two (or more) teams, a third tiebreaker would be evoked: The tied teams shall be ranked in the standings according to fewest earned runs allowed divided by the number of innings (including partial innings) played in defense in the games in that Round between the teams tied. Finally, Taiwan has to hope that the Philippines can score some runs against SK.
With all that said, it is against all odds that Taiwan will be able to meet those criteria, let alone beat Japan. The Japanese NT saved the ace of the staff, Yu Darvish (2007 NPB Sawamura Winner) to face Taiwan. Despite his youth (22 years of age), Darvish has some international experience against Taiwanese competition. In 2004, as the ace of the Japanese junior NT, Darvish started against the Taiwanese NT - although he earned a ND (4.2 IP - 2 ER, 6 H, 6 K's, 1BB), Japan ultimately won the game 6-3. Last year, Darvish faced the La New Bears in the Konami Cup and made Taiwan's best offensive hitter, CFC look silly - K'ing him twice.
Taiwan's likely starter: Chien-Fu Yang is a good pitcher, but I don't think he can shut down Japan's offense. Anyways, I'm just hoping for a close competitive ball game. Jiayo!
CL Hu who was held out of yesterday's ball game because of a minor foot injury is expected back in the lineup against Japan.
More on yesterday's game: Game Recap/Box Score