Riding the red-hot bats of sluggers Victor Rodriguez, Lin Chih-sheng and Pan Chung-wei, the La New Bears have quietly won three consecutive games, including two against the league-leading Sinon Bulls earlier in the week, to become the talk around the league.
The bashing trio has amassed an impressive .353 batting average (12-for-34) with 12 RBIs during the Bears' latest three-game winning stretch, accounting for over half of the team's 21 total runs in the same span.
For those who recall the Bears' three-game nipping of the then-league-leading Brother Elephants in late-May last season that ultimately cost the Elephants the first-half title, the last-placed Bears are definitely playing the role of the spoilers once again, only this time, the victims are the Bulls.
"Everyone thought they [the Bulls] were going to have an easy week playing against us, maybe even close in on the first-half title and all -- I guess they'll have to wait a little longer," skipper Hung Yi-chung said about his club's recent success.
The Bulls would have opened a 4.5-game lead over the second-placed Chinatrust Whales in the standings heading into this weekend had all gone as expected.
Following their 4-3 beating of the Whales last Sunday to avoid a series sweep, the Bears opened an eight-game home stand in Kaohsiung with a pair of solid wins over the Bulls to start off the week.
Tuesday's 8-2 decision had Pan's big bat smashing an offering from Bulls starter Osvaldo Martinez for a two-run blast in a three-run first that sent Martinez straight to the shower before the inning even ended.
Lin later added another round-tripper off Sinon reliever Lee Guo-ching to put the game away, making a winner out of Bears starter Wu Si-yo who lost a run on five hits over six innings of work.
Martinez's bid to add to his league-best victory total of seven fell short for the second straight time as he suffered the loss in his shortest outing (2/3 of an inning) of the year.
Bears 9, Bulls 4
Martinez was not the lone top-caliber hurler that fell victim to a suddenly-surging Bears attack.
Fellow righty Lenin Picota of Panama, second in the league in victory total with six, also worked a short night when the Bears lineup rocked him for three early runs on five hits and a walk in Wednesday's 9-4 trouncing before he was pulled one out into the third.
The loss, only Picota's third of the season, surely put a damper to his recent success off the mound in addition to raising his earned-run average (ERA) to 2.59 from the 2.14 mark prior to the loss.
Offensively for the Bears, the bashing trio combined for five RBIs on four hits (three of which went for extra bases), highlighted by Pan's second homer in as many games, to put the roar back in the Bears' game.
Second-year starter Hsu Yu-wei earned his first game-MVP honor along with his first win of the year for scattering three runs on eight hits over 6-1/3 frames.
Lions 6, Cobras 2
The President Lions proved Lin En-yu human after all in a makeup game at Tainan on Monday when they took the Cobras' rookie righty deep twice for two homeruns in a 6-2 triumph.
Lin had won four in a row to open the season at 4-0 before dropping his past two of three as hitters around the league appeared to have caught on with some of his pitching tendencies.
The nine hits allowed by Lin in six innings of play marked the first time this season (seven starts) that the Cobras' front-runner for this year's Rookie of the Year award surrendered more hits than the number of innings pitched in a game.