The red-hot Uni-President Lions stumbled into a tough Brother Elephants squad at the Chengcing Lake Baseball Field in Greater Kaohsiung last night, dropping a 7-0 decision in front of a crowd of more than 5,000 to end a four-game winning streak.
Rookie right-hander Tsai Jing-hao was no match for his Elephants counterpart Orlando Roman, despite having won back-to-back starts in his previous two contests as he lasted only 2-1/3 innings to lose for the first time this season.
“It’s one of those games where I simply left too many pitches over the plate and they [the Elephants] definitely made me pay,” Tsai said after the game.
He was charged for all five of the runs the Elephants poured in during an explosive third inning that set the tone for the rest of the game.
Spotted with a generous five-run lead, Roman cruised through the match in a five-hit gem while fanning seven and walking one to pitch his first complete-game shutout of the year.
The win not only avenged a 2-1 loss to the same Lions for the Elephants in Taoyuan a week ago, but more importantly, it nipped a three-game slide that had baffled the men in the golden uniforms.
“We needed this one to help turn our season around, it really showed what Orlando can do for us if we give him some run support,” Elephants skipper Chen Rei-chen said after the game.
His staff ace is now 6-2 with a team-best 3.20 ERA that places him second and third in the league in total wins and ERA respectively.
After two scoreless frames, the Elephants’ bats came alive in the bottom of the third as they strung together a half-dozen hits against the Lions’ pitching, highlighted by Chen Guan-ren’s two-run single off Tsai.
They tacked on a pair more an inning later, again on the strength of Chen Guan-ren’s bases loaded, two-run single that blew the game wide open en route to the shutout.
The loss marked the first time the top-ranked Lions had been blanked offensively. Their slim lead over the second-place Lamigo Monkeys is down to a lone game.
Meanwhile, the day-night doubleheader between the Lamigo Monkeys and the Sinon Bulls in Taoyuan was called off even though the rain had stopped by late afternoon, as the field could not be drained in time for the evening match.