Improved pitching, coupled with timely hitting, has translated into a winning month for the previously struggling Brother Elephants.
After a disappointing April that saw the men in yellow go 6-13 with a five-game and a six-game losing skid, dead last in the standings, the Elephants have recovered from their worst start in recent years by winning five of their nine contests so far this month.
Leading the recent surge for the Elephants off the mound is hard-throwing right-hander Chen Hong-wen, who has made a smooth transition from his former closer’s role to his current starting role with a pair of solid starts in which he went seven innings apiece with an earned run in each outing that resulted in two wins for his club.
The Hualien native who spent six seasons in the Chicago Cubs’ minor league system and two seasons in the Mexican Pacific League before opting to return to his homeland this year could be the staff ace that the Elephants have sorely missed with injury bothering Lin En-yu and former first round draft pick Lin Yu-ching falling a tad short of expectations in his second season with the team.
Offensively for the Elephants, timely hitting has made the difference after four of their last five wins were decided by five combined runs.
These incorporated a pair of extra-inning triumphs courtesy of the resurging Peng “Chia Chia” Cheng-min, whose average has risen over 60 points from .200 to .262 this month, with three homers and six RBIs.
While the main focus of attention has fallen on the two-horse race for the first half title between the Uni-President Lions and the EDA Rhinos, an equally heated battle to stay out of last place in the standings has resulted in an exciting start for the league that has seen people talking baseball more than ever and fans filling up ball parks across the nation for the first time in years.