Poor defense by the La New Bears led to back-to-back losses at the hands of the Brother Elephants on Thursday and Friday, posing some potential concerns for the regular season champs in the final stretch of the season.
Dropping three of four by a whopping combined margin of 22-to-6 since clinching the regular season title late last week, the Bears have not exactly played up to their full potential as of late.
Thursday night's contest in Sinjhuang saw Bears staff ace Kenny Rayborn of the US faltering during a six-run third to lose his fifth game of the year by allowing eight runs (one earned) on five hits and six uncharacteristic walks in a 10-1 loss.
It was the second straight game that Rayborn failed to come up with a win that would have given him the sole possession of the lead in total victories with 17.
The game began with each team trading a run in the early going before the Elephants went 2-1 up in the bottom of the second on a wild pitch by Rayborn.
Then came the six-run third that made it 9-1 in favor of the Elephants AS they took advantage of a wild Rayborn who issued three walks before giving up an RBI single to Wang Jin-yong and a bases-clearing, three-run triple to Kuo Yi-fong that blew the game wide open.
The Bears' lone second-inning run turned out to be their only run in the game, even though they were able to ring up eight hits off three different Elephants hurlers on the night.
Pocketing his fourth straight win was Elephant starter Eddy Candelario, who went seven effective innings for his team, allowing one run on seven hits to remain unbeaten for the year.
Elephants 8, Bears 4
The Elephants doubled up on the Bears on Friday night in an 8-4 decision that had the hosts grinding out eight unanswered runs after falling behind by four through the first three innings of play.
As if two different teams had taken the field in Sinjhuang, the formidable Bears lineup that scored four quick runs off Elephants rookie starter Yeh Yong-jeh over the first three frames suddenly went dormant as they managed to reach second base only once more from the fourth inning on.
In direct contrast to the Bears, a silent Elephants attack that went hitless through the first three innings suddenly awoke for eight runs, including a six-run sixth that turned a 2-4 deficit into an 8-4 lead.
Ten Elephants batters made their way to the plate against Bears starter Anthony Fiore and reliever Huang Jung-chung in the game-turning sixth, pounding out four hits and capitalizing on two deadly errors by the Bears defense that led to five unearned runs in the inning.
Yeh was credited with his fourth win of the year for allowing four runs and nine hits in 6-2/3 innings of work.
The rookie right-hander who seemed doomed for his eighth loss of the year was the beneficiary of a porous Bears defense that committed four errors in the game that resulted in six of the eight Elephants runs being unearned.
Taking the loss was Fiore, who cruised through the first three innings before running into a world of trouble in the fourth and sixth, surrendering seven runs on five hits before being chased in the sixth.
Only one of the seven runs he gave up was earned.
Offensively for the Bears, slugger Chen Chin-fong belted a two-run blast off Yeh for his 21st homer of the season.
The former major leaguer now trails the Sinon Bulls' Chang "Prince of the Forest" Tai-shan by one in a close race for the league's home run title.