Sweeping their four-game series against the La New Bears last week, the Macoto Cobras regained a share of the lead in Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) standings (tied with the Sinon Bulls) as the final week of the first half of the CPBL season approaches.
After back-to-back wins on Tuesday and Wednesday behind the strong pitching of starters Yang Chi-jia and Hsu Chu-jien, respectively, the Cobras took no mercy against a sagging Bears staff by posting a pair of shutout victories over the weekend against their former Taiwan Major League brethrens.
Friday's 5-0 blanking of the Bears in Hsinchu was led by power hitter Hsieh Jia-shien's red-hot bat that delivered three RBIs on a 2-for-4 night.
Hsieh went deep against Bears starter Chris Wright in the opening inning for a two-run home run to jumpstart the Cobras offense and followed with anther run-scoring single to right in the seventh inning.
On the mound for the surging serpents was lefty ace Lin Ying-jeh, whose three-hit gem marked his first complete-game shutout win of the year.
The aboriginal southpaw out of Taitung also struck out nine to up his league-leading total to 84 "Ks" this season.
Back from his brief stint in Japan with the Seibu Lions of the Nippon Professional Baseball League, Wright scattered five runs (two earned) on eight hits over seven frames in a losing effort.
Cobras 6, Bears 0
Lin En-yu's 6-0 complete-game shutout victory over the Bears in Tienmu on Saturday was the perfect sequel to Lin Ying-jeh's masterpiece the night before as the Cobras rookie sensation also went the distance in another impressive outing.
The four-hit, complete-game shutout was especially sweet for Lin En-yu in that it was the second time in a month that he had denied the opposing squad of a scoring chance while going the distance for his team.
Leading the way for the Cobras attack on the night was slugger Mario Encarnacion of the Dominican Republic, who drove a fat pitch from Bears starter Matthew Beech over the left-field fence for a three-run homer, his 11th of the season.
Bulls 9, Lions 0
Taking three of four in their own four-game set against the President Lions last week were the Bulls, who lost the sole possession of the lead in the CPBL standings with the lone loss to the big cats in Game 2 of the doubleheader at Tainan on Sunday.
Following a hard fought 4-3 win over the home Lions last Monday that mathematically eliminated the Lions from contention for the first-half title, the Bulls overwhelmed the Lions on Saturday in a 9-0 final that gave Panamanian righty Lenin Picota his lead-best eighth win of the season.
Doing most of the damage from the batter's box for the Bulls was ever-hustling outfielder Tseng Hua-wei who lit up the Tainan sky with a 3-for-4 night, including his team-high five RBIs for the game. Tseng just missed hitting for the cycle by a home run as he belted a single, a double and a triple off three different Lions pitchers.
Bulls 4, Lions 1
Game 1 in Sunday's doubleheader at Tainan had the Bulls striking first in the top of the third on Tseng's solo homer off Lions starter Julio Manon for a quick 1-0 advantage.
Even though the Lions would answer in the bottom of the sixth on the strength of first baseman Kao Guo-ching's run-scoring single to make it 1-1, Manon was unable to keep his team in the game as he fell behind again in the very next inning when Bulls designated hitter Chen Tsung-fu knocked in two go-ahead runs with a liner up the middle after a wild pitch by Manon had advanced both runners to scoring position.