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BASEBALL/Nearly 40,000 attend 1st Yomiuri Giants Exhibition Game at Taipei Dome

03/02/2024 10:03 PM
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Over 37,000 people pack the Taipei Dome Saturday. CNA photo March 2, 2024
Over 37,000 people pack the Taipei Dome Saturday. CNA photo March 2, 2024

Taipei, March 2 (CNA) Over 37,000 baseball fans packed the Taipei Dome on Saturday to watch the Yomiuri Giants secure a 4-1 win over the CTBC Brothers in the first of two exhibition games held to celebrate the Japanese franchise's 90th anniversary.

The Giants franchise has the longest history in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), and its home turf the Tokyo Dome, established in 1988, is the oldest of the five indoor baseball stadiums in Japan.

The sellout crowd of 37,890 set a new record for the largest turnout at a baseball game in Taiwan, surpassing the 25,000 attendance at Chengching Lake Baseball Stadium in Kaohsiung during a World Cup game between Taiwan and the United States in 2001.

This was also the first time more than 36,000 seats were made available at the Taipei Dome since the stadium officially opened in December 2023 for the Asian Baseball Championship. The championship game between Taiwan and Japan saw a turnout of 21,013.

Two types of balls were used in the game, according to the defensive side's league, as both teams prepare for their upcoming 2024 seasons.

The Giants took a 1-0 early lead in the top of the second inning and tallied 13 hits for four scores through the game.

Giants' starting pitcher Shōsei Togō throws a pitch in Saturday's game. CNA photo March 2, 2024
Giants' starting pitcher Shōsei Togō throws a pitch in Saturday's game. CNA photo March 2, 2024

Aside from the single run scored in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Brothers struggled offensively throughout the game, largely due to the dominance of Giants' starting pitcher Shōsei Togō on the mound.

The 23-year-old pitcher struck out six batters over three innings, including the first three Brothers batters in the opening frame. His strong performance earned him the pitching MVP award after the game.

"I was very nervous because I had to play in front of a sellout crowd in my first game in Taiwan, but I leveraged that to my own advantage and tried to put on a great game," said Togō, the 2022 NPB Central League strikeout leader, thanking fans for their support.

Togō revealed that he knew he would start in the Giants' first game in Taiwan, so he prepared in advance, though he did not disclose the details.

He also noted that he did not find many differences between the Taipei Dome and the Tokyo Dome, the Giants' home stadium, adding that he saw many fans in attendance at both venues.

CNA photo March 2, 2024
CNA photo March 2, 2024

Meanwhile, the batting MVP of the game went to Yuto Akihiro, who racked up three hits and three RBIs in his first game in Taiwan.

Rarely playing games overseas, the 21-year-old said "I love Taiwan" in Chinese in response to all four questions at the postgame interview, sparking loud cheers from the crowd.

The Giants face off against the Rakuten Monkeys at the Taipei Dome on Sunday. The game is set to start at 5:05 p.m.

(By Chao Yen-hsiang)

Enditem/AW

Giants' cheerleading squad "Venus." CNA photo March 2, 2024
Giants' cheerleading squad "Venus." CNA photo March 2, 2024
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