The Sinon Bulls and the Brother Elephants have jumped out in front to take a two-game lead in the league standings in the second half of the season.
In the middle of a seven-game non-losing streak, the Bulls appear to have improved on offense.
In addition to the "iron-triangle," consisting of starters Jeff Andra (10-0 with an 1.91 ERA and 102 strikeouts), Osvaldo Martinez (9-5 with a 2.62 ERA and 115 strikeouts), and Tsai Chung-nan (
Once a highly recruited pitching prospect in Japan, Yu joined the Bulls at the beginning of this season.
The Bulls also have a great closer in Ramon Morel, who has been nearly flawless this season, converting 20 out of 22 save opportunities. His has given up only two runs in 42-plus innings for an ERA of only 0.43.
On offense for the Bulls, the main focus is still on All-Star third baseman Chang Tai-shan (
Despite the apparent invincibility of the Bulls, the Elephants seem to have found a winning formula after a sub-par March and April.
how to win
Fresh off their 14-2-1 performance in June, the Elephants have won five of their last seven and are in the middle of a 12-series winning streak.
Thanks to the leadership of veteran right-handers Jonathan Hurst (9-2 with a 2.49 ERA and 70 strikeouts) and Yokota Hisanori (9-2 with a 2.85 ERA and 98 strikeouts), the otherwise young pitching staff has come together to post three shutout victories in their last seven contests.
Offensively, right fielder Peng Cheng-ming (彭政閔) (batting .360 with 9 home runs and 46 RBIs) and center fielder Chen Cheng-yuan (陳致遠) (batting .345 with 11 home runs and 57 RBIs) have been on fire, with each player winning the Offensive Player of the Month honors in May and June, respectively.
The Elephants beat the Makoto Gida 3-0 in a makeup game in Taichung on Monday behind the stellar performance of starter Wu Jung-yi (
The right-hander, known for his submarine delivery, kept the Gida hitters off balanced all night.
Reliever Wang Chin-li (
The Bulls opened a four-game homestand against the President Lions with two impressive victories on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Starter Yu Wen-pin pitched five scoreless innings for his fifth win of the season, with help from relievers Kuo Yong-chih (
Breaking his previous season-high of 17 homers, All-Star Bull slugger Chang Tai-shan blasted his league-high 18th long ball of the season off of Lions starter John Frascatore.
Game 2 of the four-game series featured Chang's 19th homer of the season as the home team cruised to an 11-4 win.
The Bulls hitters jumped all over Lions starter John Burgos as they pounded three homers off the American veteran in the first three innings.
All nine of the Bulls' starting lineup had at least one hit. Rookie starter Yang Chien-fu (