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Big League Stew

Chinese Taipei opens World Baseball Classic with 4-1 victory over Australia

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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Chien-Ming Wang with the Nationals in 2012. (USA Today)

The 2013 World Baseball Classic is officially underway.

In the tournament opener down in windy Taichung, Taiwan, the home standing Chinese Taipei squad sailed to a 4-1 victory over Australia in Pool B behind six shutout innings from former Yankees and Nationals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang.

Wang’s line would include a pair of strikeouts and four hits allowed. He may have also benefited from the strong winds blowing in from left and center — at times gusting up to 25 mph — on a couple fly balls early, but overall looked dominant against an overmatched lineup.

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Offensively, Cheng-Min Peng would set the pace for Taipei with a first inning RBI single. He later added a solo home run into the right field bleachers off Warwick Saupold. Australia's Stefan Welch would muscle up for a solo blast in the seventh for their lone tally. Former Seattle Mariners prospect Chris Snelling chipped in a single... and then in a career-defining moment limped to the dugout with an undisclosed leg injury.

Perhaps the most notable moment of the game, though, happened in the top of first inning on a horribly blown call by veteran umpire Lance Barksdale. Stationed at first base, Barksdale would inexplicably ring up Australian base runner Luke Hughes despite replays showing he had beat out an infield hit by a good step, maybe a step and a half.

It wasn't close.

The call ended what will go down as an innocent 1-2-3 inning. It’s not likely to have made a difference in the outcome, either, but it certainly didn’t set a good tone for the umpires.

Up Next: The tournament will continue later this morning with two more opening round games.

First, in Pool A, it’ll be defending champion Japan vs. Brazil at 5 a.m. ET.

Then we'll have Game 2 in Pool B featuring Korea vs. Netherlands at 8 a.m. ET.

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