A one-run loss to the Lamigo Monkeys last weekend followed by Wednesday night’s defeat by the EDA Rhinos mean the top-ranked Brother Elephants are now on a three-game losing skid.
What had been a four-game lead over the second-placed Monkeys as recently as a week ago has dwindled to a slim one-game cushion for the men in yellow after they dropped three straight “winnable” matches because of a lack of timely hitting.
In two of the three defeats, the Elephants’ offense actually outhit their opponents by a 22-18 margin, but only had five combined runs on the scoreboard to show for it.
“[The Elephants] are getting the hits on offense, just not scoring too many runs with those hits,” renowned baseball commentator Yang Ching-lung said earlier this week.
The Elephants’ tendency to strand runners could mean trouble for them if the race to the second-half title heats up, which seems likely.
While shuffling the batting order may be one way to help improve his team’s scoring efficiency, the real issue for skipper Hsieh Chang-hen lies in the Elephants’ timidness at the plate. His hitters have been showing a distinct lack of confidence during clutch situations in recent games.
This is the perfect time for old hands such as Peng “Chia Chia” Cheng-min to demonstrate their leadership, as Hsieh is in only his first full season with the club and may not have had the chance to bond with the players as much as he would have liked.
Chia Chia is the ideal individual for this task, not only because of his tremendous accomplishments on the field over the years, but also thanks to his impeccable history off the field as an exemplary role model.
The Elephants could also use some assistance in the bullpen in the late innings, with setup man Guan Da-yuan and closer Brad Thomas eating up more innings than they would like due to a lack of depth in the squad.
The Elephants hit the road this weekend with potentially tough encounters against the Uni-President Lions at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium before the weekend finale at the Douliou County Baseball Stadium on Sunday.
It will be a golden opportunity for the Elephants to try to open a gap on the Lamigo Monkey in the standings as they take on a Lions squad that has suffered some internal turmoil with interim manager Chen Lien-hung at the helm for less than a week after replacing the demoted Terushi Nakashima.