The Yankees play the Orioles and it will be Chien-Ming Wang of Taiwan against Koji Uehara of Japan. The two right-handers last faced each other in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. On Aug. 21, Japan beat Taiwan 4-3 in 10 innings.
Wang, then a Yankees prospect, allowed three runs over 6.2 innings. Uehara, the ace of the Yomiuri Giants, gave up three runs over seven innings. It was a strong performance for Wang, who was facing a lineup that included future major leaguers Kosuke Fukudome, Kenji Jojima and Norihiro Nakamura.
“It would have been a big win for Taiwan,” Wang said yesterday. “We played a good game. I remember a lot about that game.”
Tomorrow’s game also will feature Uehara facing his old Giants teammate and friend Hideki Matsui. As Tyler Kepner explains over on Bats, Matsui was the MVP of the Central League in 2002 and Uehara was the winner of the Sawamura Award as the top pitcher.
Uehara is the first Japanese player for the Orioles. His performance has slipped in recent seasons in Japan, but his big-league debut will be huge news in Japan. That he is facing Wang and Matsui makes it only more interesting to the fans in Asia.
In Taiwan, the return of Wang from last season’s foot injury will captivate the nation. He will be pitching for the first time since last June 15.
We have a lot of readers in Taiwan and are very passionate about baseball and the Yankees. They will be happy to see their man back on the mound.