Jair Jurrjens Blanks Brothers in CPBL Debut

After being released by the Colorado Rockies in the summer of 2015, pitcher Jair Jurrjens found himself as a free agent.

The 30-year-old native of Curacao, a former MLB All-Star, was able to represent his home country in the Premier 12 baseball tournament hosted in Taiwan in November 2015. Jurrjens helped pitch a very talented Netherlands team to the quarterfinals but the Dutch were eventually beaten by the USA by a score of 6-1.

Jurrjens must have caught the eyes of the local, professional Taiwanese teams because on Feb. 13 he signed with the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions for the 2016 CPBL season. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Jurrjens will join two other foreign-signed players on the Lions: Outfielder Felix Pie (CHC, Bal, Pit) and pitcher Bruce Billings (Col, Oak, NYY). Together they hope to improve a Lions team that struggled last year with a record of 49 wins and 69 losses in the four-team league.

Fast forward to Sunday, March 20 where Jurrjens was chosen as the Lions' opening day starter. His opponent would be the Chinatrust Brothers, who, a day earlier, scored 13 runs on 17 hits versus the defending-champion Lamigo Monkeys.

The game was threatened by rain, but after a 90-minute delay the game would get underway and the rain would not be a factor as it turned out to be a pretty nice night for baseball.

Before Jurrjens even toed the rubber he was spotted a one-run lead courtesy of a two-out solo home run from Lions left fielder Pan Wu Hsiung (4-5, 4 runs, RBI and a double short of the cycle). With that lead, Jurrjens, No. 49, induced four ground balls, three for outs, in only 15 pitches.

The 7-Eleven Lions would add to the lead in their half of the 2nd with a two-out, two RBI double from SS Guo Fu Lin (3 -5, 1 run, 2 RBI). In the bottom of the 2nd, the right-hander would face only three batters.
Leading 3-0 in the bottom of the third, Jurrjens worked around a walk and a single and got two ground outs and a fly out to finish the 3rd in 49 total pitches.

Jurrjens began the bottom of the fourth with a five-pitch walk to Brothers hard-hitting second baseman Lin Chih Sheng but got the next batter, the five-hitter Chiang Chih Hsien, to ground into a double play.  Things got a little scary for Jurrjens during the next at bat as he seemed to roll his right ankle after a pitch. Jurrjens received some attention from the medical staff but stayed in the game and finished the inning efficiently needing only nine pitches.

The former Tigers, Braves, Orioles and Rockies pitcher was ahead 5 -0 on the scoreboard as he began the bottom of the fifth. Brothers DH, Lin Wei Chu lead things off with a double on Jurrjens’ 3-and-1 offering to collect his second hit of the night. However, that's as much damage as Jurrjens would allow as he retired the next three batters in order to close the door on the Brothers over five innings and 73 pitches, putting himself in position for the win.

The Lions continued to add to their lead in the 6th by getting two more runs, one coming via a solo home run from first baseman Gao Guo Qing off of reliever Zhou Lei.

For Jurrjens’ 6th and final inning he sat down the middle of the potent Brothers lineup in order needing only eight pitches and exiting with his team up 7-0.

The Lions bullpen would close the door on the Brothers and win by a final score of 11- 0, using three pitchers for the combined shutout.

Jurrjens looked sharp and efficient all evening and really helped his team by keeping the ball on the ground, as the wind was blowing hard at Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium in Taipei. The righty’s ability to induce ground balls and let his impressive infield do its job defensively was the difference in this game. Very few balls were hit well off of Jurrjens, as two of the four hits allowed were weak-contact bloop singles.
4The final line on Jair Jurrjens' Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions and CPBL debut:
6 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 1 K, 2 BB, 81 pitches
9/6 GO/FO

Jurrjens will look to add to this promising performance in his next outing, likely this weekend vs Lamigo. The 30-year-old's debut was very successful and one the Lions hope continues throughout the season.