CPBL: Lamigo Monkeys claw way back on stellar pitching

By Paul Huang  /  Contributing reporter

Fri, Aug 02, 2013 - Page 20

With three straight wins to close out last month, the Lamigo Monkeys have boosted their second-half record to an even 7-7 mark as of yesterday morning, good enough for No. 2 in the latest standings.

Stellar starting pitching was the main reason that the defending champs have seemingly rebounded from a dismal first half, with staff ace Mike Loree leading the way. The US righty out of Villanova University — who played in the minors with the San Francisco Giants and the Pittsburg Pirates before coming to Taiwan during the second half of last season — have come off a mid-season slump this year with four straight quality starts, the last two of which have resulted in big wins for the Primates.

“We are coming around as a team,” Loree said after pitching seven effective innings of two-run ball (one earned) against the EDA Rhinos on Tuesday, even though it netted him a no-decision with the Lamigo bullpen blowing a late-game lead in the eighth.

His continued success will play an important role in the Monkeys’ quest to advance into the post-season and defend their title.

Doing the damage at the plate for the Monkeys in their recent barrage were sluggers Tsan Chih-yao, Kuo Sho-yen and Hsieh Hsuan-ren. They picked up eight three-hit games among them to help their team pound out nearly eight runs per game during their current three-game win streak, humbling the opposing pitching in the process.

“What’s so amazing about [the Monkeys’] recent run is that they are doing it without the help of the big-name guys, which means they will be even tougher to beat when the big guns like Lin Hung-yu and Chung ‘Yo Yo Man’ Cheng-yo return,” baseball commentator Yang Ching-lung said earlier this week.

It may be too early to tell whether the Primates will remain strong for the rest of the season, but they do possess one of the most stable starting rotations, with Loree, fellow lefty Brian Burres and Tseng Jau-hao all having been there since the start of the season. Such stability in personnel will be considered a luxury come next month as teams look to improve on their plays in preparation for the post-season.

WEEKEND PREVIEW

The Monkeys will host the top-ranked Brother Elephants in a three-game set in Taoyuan this weekend, when a series sweep could give them the lead in the standings.

They will have more than the top spot to play for against an Elephants squad that took two of three from them in their last three-game showdown on the road back in the middle of last month.