Just before I start, Peng Zheng-min the 18 season Brother Elephants/Chinatrust Brothers 1st baseman played his final games this week. Even as an opposition fan, despite not having seen him in his heyday, any player who has a career average of 0.333 over 1797 games and still average 0.302 and play 89 games at 41 years old is a LEGEND. Brothers will miss him a lot, and I’m sure a lot of Taiwanese neutrals, fans of other teams will miss CHIA-CHIA!
Fubon Guardians v Lamigo Monkeys – Tues 24th/Wed 25th in Taoyuan
A sense of normality resumed with the tropical storm affecting northern Taiwan having moved away during Sunday/Monday.
Fubon scored regularly early on to lead 5-0 after 4, but as Mike Loree exited after 75 pitches and 5 innings, things fell apart albeit temporarily… Fan Yu-yu conceded 2H, 2BBs and 4 runs without an out, the Monkeys were level but then proceeded to throw the game away. The inexperienced Monkeys bullpen allowed Fubon to move 12-5 up in the 7th, there was a minor comeback but in the end, a comfortable 13-7 Guardians win.
Two first-inning homers set the Guardians up for another win in Taoyuan on Wednesday. Michael Nix would concede 8H, 4R over his 6 as Travis Banwart got his first CPBL win as he kept the Monkeys to 2 runs in his 5.2. It was 4-2 with both foreigners gone, Fubon scored two further runs later in the game to record a 6-2 victory and put the pressure back on Brothers.
Uni Lions v Chinatrust Brothers – Wed 25th/Thurs 26th in Taichung
With the away side officially out of playoff contention, although having not been in it in practical terms for weeks this was the start of their final full week. Brothers lead 2-1 after 6 and would extend their lead to 7-1 in the 7th. 4 of the 7 Brothers runs in the game were unearned with 2 Lions errors. Mitch Lively picked up his 9th win of the year for the home side, 4H, 1R, 3SO over 7 innings. Lions 1-7 Brothers was how it finished. Chia Chia made two hits…
Legend v legend on Thursday in Taichung as Pan Wei-lun met Peng Zheng-min for the final time. The 37-year-old pitching legend met the 41-year-old batting legend, and it was Pan who came out on top. Pan lasted 5.2, giving up 7R (6ER) and 8 hits, but got his 8th victory of the season as Uni Lions lead 9-7 when he exited the game. Brothers got it back to 9-8, with a 3rd run in the 6th coming off Lin Chih-wei. No bullpen issues for the Lions as they scored three times more, and didn’t even give up a hit. Lions 12-8 Brothers, Chia Chia went 0 for 4.
Lamigo Monkeys v Uni Lions – Fri 27th/Sat 28th/Sun 29th in Tainan
The final three games of the CPBL season in Tainan, Uni Lions final three games at home could be described by the idiom “lambs to the slaughter”. Aside from Friday’s game, this resembled more like an elongated batting practice for the play-off bound Monkeys than a competitive series.
On Friday Uni Lions gave a debut to 19-year-old pitcher Gui Lin Rui Yang, one of three teenagers to make his Lions debut over the three games. (Wu Cheng-yu and Shih Kuan-yu the other two) To be fair to Gui or Gui Lin (I’m not sure what is proper parlance), 5H, 3R (2ER) over 5 to a strong Monkeys side wasn’t a bad showing. 0 runs in the opening 5 for the Lions so the youngster would take the loss, but it would only be a 6-1 defeat.
Saturday’s game saw 4th choice catcher Hsieh Zhong-wei make a rare first-team appearance and Ryan Verdugo probably appeared for the final time in Lions colours. 3 massive home-runs helped propel Lamigo to a 10-2 lead after 4 innings although Kuo Fu-lin and Yao Yu-hsiang did notably go back to back off Radhames Liz in the 2nd for the home side. No more homers in the game but Lamigo put 19 on the weakened Lions mainly consisting of young players and second-teamers. 19-3 with Kuo Yen-wen making 6 RBI for the Monkeys.
Sunday’s game was almost the same as Saturdays with the Monkeys racking up a 13-3 lead with 4 played. The former rookie of the year Shih Tzu-chien conceded 7H, 9R in 0.2 in the 3rd although bizarrely only one of these was earned… 3 and 2 more runs respectively as the Lions final home game of the season finished 17-5 to Lamigo Monkeys.
Fubon Guardians v Chinatrust Brothers – Fri 27th/Sat 28th/Sun 29th in Taichung
This was a slightly more competitive and important series. A sweep would give Brothers the second phase title and Chia Chia would play retire after playing for 18 seasons…
Brothers edged Friday’s game, a CPBL legend in his own right Lin Chih-sheng’s walk-off hit gave Brothers a 2-1 victory to push them to within 2 games of the second phase title. Lin Yi-hao was the unlucky Guardians reliever who conceded the run… Chia Chia went 0 for 4.
Chia Chia’s penultimate game, and the first of two sellouts in Taichung. In ordinary circumstances, this would still have attracted at least 8-10 thousand but was sold out 2 months ago… Tied at 2-2, Brothers took the lead in the 5th thanks to Wang Sheng-wei’s RBI and wouldn’t look back. Elih Villeneuva had another strong start (5H, 2R) over 8 as Brothers took a 5-2 victory with their 4th/5th runs coming in the 7th. Chia Chia went 1 for 2 with an RBI and a walk. Brothers were all set, Chia Chia’s retirement and the magic number set at 1…
It was Mike Loree v Casey Harman with 20,223 in attendance to see a legend’s final retirement and Brothers secure a play-off berth with 4 games to spare? Against Loree, it wouldn’t be easy… Harman lasted 4.2, taken off after 99 pitches but with the scores level. Loree would last 7 and 94 pitches with the scores still level at 1-1… 1-1, top of the 9th was it to be? No. Former Brothers player Chiang Chih-hsien hit a solo home run to put the Guardians 2-1 up. With an ERA of 1.70 and 19 saves, another former Brothers player Chen Hong-wen got the save. Chia Chia went 0 for 3, Brothers are still 1 game away…
Next week’s schedule is a mish-mash of rearranged games. 3 teams may well be in the play-offs. Lamigo are 0.5 ahead of Fubon in the overall standings with 3 to play. We could have an incredulous situation where Lamigo are 1st phase champions, Brothers win the 2nd phase but Fubon Guardians lead the overall standings… Fubon would then play the side with the worst record in a 5 game series, and I’ve frankly no idea who would get home advantage, it’s never happened before.
Brothers need 1 win to secure the 2nd phase, Fubon need to come ahead of Lamigo in the overall standings or somehow win the 2nd phase to have any chance of being in the play-offs.
Guardians v Brothers – Tuesday in Taichung at 6:35pm, a Brothers win will secure the second phase and all but eliminate Fubon from playoff contention.
Brothers v Monkeys – Wednesday in Taoyuan at 6:35pm. Brothers second chance if needed… A Brothers win could allow Fubon a lifeline if Brothers have secured the 2nd phase on Tuesday…
Lions v Guardians – Thursday at Xinzhuang at 6:35pm. Lions last game of the season, potentially Fubon’s too depending on the previous two nights.
Brothers v Monkeys – Friday and Saturday in Taoyuan at 6:35pm. The likely Taiwan Series match-up. Fubon are likely to need Brothers to win both if they are still in contention to come top in the overall standings.
A long report, I’ll be bringing CPBL round-up week 28 next Sunday/Monday, with a report on either the one or two CPBL series depending on what happens…