The hottest things selling in town, next to the SARS-proof N95 masks, were brooms that fans brought out to the ballparks this weekend, because all three series in the CPBL actions ended in sweeps.
Leading off was the Sinon Bulls' four-game series sweep against the President Lions, which began last week with a one-game lead over the Bulls in league standings.
The Bulls took a two game lead from before going to a hostile Tainan Stadium on Friday night, where they quieted the crowd by beating the Lions 5-3. Bulls starter Jeff Andra was the hero on Friday night as he gave up only three runs on nine hits over eight solid innings for his sixth win of the season. Saturday night's 5-1 Bulls stampede featured a stellar performance by starter Osvaldo Martinez, whose four-hit effort over eight innings earned him the game-MVP honor. The seven strikeouts by Martinez gave him a total of 53 for the season, making him No.3 in the league.
The Lions are now in the middle of a six-game losing streak.
"Over the course of a season, it's normal for every team to hit some highs and lows," first-year manager Hsieh Chang-hern (謝長亨) said after Saturday's loss. "As long as our players do what they are supposed to do, I'm sure we'll get over this very soon."
ChinaTrust Whales, began last week in third-place, without losing the last eight games. Behind an offense that has cranked out 32 runs and a pitching staff that has yielded only 14 runs in the last four games, the Whales proceeded to sweep the struggling Makoto Gida in a four-game series to take sole control of the second-place spot in league standings. The last time that the Whales suffered a defeat was on April 18th against the President Lions in a 5-9 contest.
Designated hitter Hung Chi-fong's (洪啟峰) latest hitting spree (nine for 14 in the last four games) was the main reason that the Whales are enjoying their first sweep of the season after Sunday night's 4-2 victory over the Gida.
Hung now leads all hitters in the league with a .400 batting average. The Gida dropped a notch down to No.5 in league standings.
Last but not least, the Brother Elephants' swept a three-game series against the First Securities Agan, which put the Elephants two games ahead of the Gida and firmly fourth place. The visiting Elephants set the tone for the series by winning the opening game on Thursday night in Kaohsiung, 11-1. That turned out to be the only run that the Agan would put on the board the rest of the series, thanks to two outstanding showings by the Elephants' pitching staff on Saturday and Sunday that held the Agan scoreless for a total of 21 innings over the course of the three games.
Sunday night's match-up between the two teams was a classic pitching duel as the Elephants sent ace hurler Jonathan Hurst to the mound against Agan ace Liang Rue-hao (梁如豪). Bothered by nagging injuries since mid-March, Liang turned in one of his best performances of the season by taking a no-hitter into the eighth before giving up two singles and handing the ball to reliever Hsu Wen-hsiung (許文雄) in a scoreless game.
Not to be outdone by Liang, Hurst also kept the Agan hitters at bay by scattering five harmless hits over nine innings of work and dodging a big bullet in the top of the ninth to keep the game scoreless. With a runner on third and one out, Hurst managed to strike out one flied out to close the ninth.