1) Be it ever so briefly (one day to be exact), the Lions were tied atop the standings with the Monkeys after winning the first two games of their three-game set this past weekend. Then rookie sensation, Liao Chien-Fu, well...you can see above what he did.
The Monkeys' first-rounder tied the game with his first homer of the evening in the sixth inning and then put his team ahead permanently in the seventh with a resounding grand slam off of veteran Yang Chien-Fu. The second tater capped a 5-for-5, five RBI, two runs scored night for the teenager as he leads the league in average (.420), hits (66), and RBI (43). I don't know what you were up to when you were all of 19 but I'm pretty sure it wasn't this. Yowsers!
2) The inevitable and harsh reality of baseball's business side reared its ugly head this past week as the first man went Down(s). With Zeke Spruill ready and waiting in the wings, Monkeys' SP Darin Downs was sent home packing ahead of the May 31 contract extension deadline.
Many import players are signed to short three-month contracts to begin the season and are extended if they perform well. If not, well, you know what happens. It's unfortunate and unimaginably stressful but that's the way that it is. Downs finished this season with 10 starts, a 4-3 record in 54 2/3 innings pitched to go along with a 7.08 ERA and 1.45 WHIP.
3) Guardians' OF Shen Hao-Wei had himself a coming-out-party this past week. After 35 games with the first team last year, Shen guaranteed many more this year after being called up May 24 and mashing to the tune of a .471 average, three home runs, eight hits, seven RBI, four runs scored, and a stolen base in four games.
4) Lions' SP Josh Roenicke's mastery of the CPBL continued with a stellar seven inning, seven hit, no runs, and nine strikeout outing against the Monkeys on Friday. The win was Roenicke's sixth in a row as all 10 of his starts this year have been quality starts. He even started his own a triple-play.
Fellow countryman and teammate Ryan Verdugo would have run his record to 5-0 a day prior had not the bullpen melted down, giving up three runs in the bottom of the ninth, conceding a 5-4 walk-off win to the Brothers.
The third member of the Lions' rotation that has been lights out is Shih Tze-Chien. He befuddled the Monkeys on Saturday, allowing only four hits and two walks in six innings of shutout ball. He is a perfect 6-0 with a 2.48 ERA.
5) Brothers IF Wang Wei-Chen is riding a 23-game hit streak. The CPBL record is 33 games, set back in 2015 by current Monkeys 2B Kuo Yen-Wen.
6) As the dominoes fell in the offseason, SP Bryan Woodall ended up departing the Brothers and signing with the Guardians, a move that so far, has the Guardians as the clear benefactor. Woodall limited his former team to two runs on five hits in six innings, beating the Brothers for the third time this season (half of his wins).
Another former Brother, Bruce Kern, is quietly having himself a sparkling season as well as he leads the Monkeys staff. Kern put the Monkeys back in first on Sunday with a 9-4 victory over the Lions. The right-hander owns a 6-1 record with a 2.80 ERA.
7) A three-game sweep of the Brothers is just what the doctor ordered for the Guardians. Prior to their weekend series against the Brothers, the Guardians were mired in a six-game losing streak and on the verge of claiming the last spot in the standings. As it stands now, they are five games ahead of the Brothers with 15 games remaining in the first-half.
It will be interesting to see if the Brothers continue to employ their "假先發" strategy this week. It did the trick in the beginning but has been a clunker in recent games. This past week the "starting" pitchers for the Brothers combined for 9 2/3 innings, allowing 12 runs (seven earned). The strategy seems to be taking its toll on Brothers imports Additon, Lively, and Segovia, as well as the trio took turns surrendering six runs apiece to the Guardians over the weekend.
Maybe it's execution, maybe it's routine, or maybe it's just time to revert back to tried and true methods. Or maybe the Brothers ride it out a little longer and re-evaluate mid-season. The Tampa Bay Rays of the MLB are following suit after all.
8) As the weather heats up so does the battle for first place. The Lions will get their chance again this coming weekend as they take on the Monkeys in a three-game series in Taoyuan. I'm sitting behind a computer but I would line up Roenicke, Verdugo, and Shih for that visit to Monkey Land. The Guardians and Brothers will duke it out in Xinzhuang for three games as both teams look to the second half.