Fri, Jul 27, 2012 - Page 20 News List

CPBL: Brother Elephants are the team to beat in the league

BY Paul Huang  /  Contributing reporter

Stellar pitching, coupled with potent hitting, has led to tremendous success for the Brother Elephants as they rolled off 13 wins in a 13-3 start in the second half of the season to become the team to beat around the league.

Starters Cheng Hong-chi, Jim Magrane and Tseng Song-wei have all done their part in picking up at least two wins in the 16 games during the second half thus far, with a respectable 3.37 earned run average (ERA) over the same span, while averaging over six innings per start to account for nine of the 13 victories by the men in the golden uniform.

Leading the way in the fast start for the Elephants in the second half was Cheng, who has amassed four wins in the past month by holding the opposing hitters to five runs over 23 innings to achieve a solid 1.96 ERA. The former standout for the National Taiwan Sport University and member of the Toronto Blue Jays minor-league system has finally pitched to his potential in the Elephants’ rotation, after splitting his game appearances over the past two seasons in between the bullpen and starting rotation.

“It’s hard not to have a clear role on the team, especially with the way the game has evolved over the last decade or so,” Cheng said in a recent interview.

His comment is echoed by teams around the league as they all struggle to give the pitchers a clearly defined role on the team because of differences in the style of managing and a lack of a sound player-development system, as well as expectations by the organizations to seek immediate results despite their reluctance to commit to any long-term investments.

Offensively for the Elephants, the club that batted a second-worst .288 in the first half has suddenly awakened to lead the league in team batting average with an even .310 mark to produce a league-best 6.25 runs per game in the 16 second-half contests thus far.

During their current season-high nine-game win streak, the Elephants have outscored their opponents by a whopping 70-to-28 margin, with five games in which they plated at least seven runs in the game and three double-digit scoring affairs.

“We are hitting on all cylinders right now, all we want to do is ride it for as long as we can,” Elephants skipper Chen Rei-chen told the Taipei Times.

Chen and his red-hot club are to host the last-placed Sinon Bulls in a three-game set in northern Taiwan this weekend in a bid to stretch their win streak to 14.

With a game at the Taipei Municipal Baseball Stadium sandwiched between a pair of matches at the Sinjhuang Baseball Stadium in New Taipei City today and Sunday, big turnouts are expected in what should be a fun-filled weekend.

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