The Giants started the week with a rain out against KIA and then won the next two games in Gwangju. The Giants took the first game thanks to a great pitching performance from Song Seung-joon and some heroics from catcher Kang Min-ho and luck from 2nd baseman Cho Seong-hwan. Song tossed eight innings of two-run baseball. Song gave up four hits and one walk while striking out seven. With the Giants trailing 2-0 in the 8th inning, Kang Min-ho hit a solo homer to cut the deficit in half. Outfielder Jeon Joon-woo lead off the ninth inning with a double.
Jeon would score on a single from left fielder Son Ah-seob to tie the game at two. Lotte loaded the bases with only one out. Kang came up again in the 9th with the bases loaded, but hit a screaming line drive to left for the second out of the inning. The ball wasn't deep enough for any of the runners to advance. The next batter, Cho Seong-hwan, managed to lean into a pitch from KIA closer Yoo Dong-hoon to break the 2-2 tie. Lotte reliever Lim Kyeong-wan tossed a scoreless ninth inning for his second save of the the season.
The formula on Thursday was simple. Step one, wear down KIA starter Seo Jae-wong and get into the shallow end of the KIA bullpen. The Lotte offense battered Seo for five runs during his 5 1/3 innings of work.
Step two, get quality innings out of starter Cho Jeong-hoon so the Tigers can't get into the shallow end of the Lotte bullpen. Cho didn't throw great, but he was good enough to win and ate up some innings. Cho ended up tossing 6 1/3 innings and gave up four runs on seven hits and one walk, but he managed only one, lonely strikeout against the free swingin' Tigers.
Step three, don't forget to score a bunch of runs. It wasn't the usual suspects doing damage against KIA. The number six to nine hitters in the Lotte lineup combined to go 7-17, with five RBIs and six runs scored. First baseman Park Jong-yoon enjoyed a three RBI evening.
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Lotte only managed to get in one of the three games they were scheduled to play against Samsung in Busan. They only played one game, but it appears that they left their bats in Gwangju. Samsung starter Brandon Knight and the Samsung bullpen limited the Giants to only two runs on four hits and one walk. Ryan Sadowski was the tough luck loser against the Lions. Sadowski stuck around for seven innings, but surrendered three runs. Sadowski gave up seven hits while striking out eight.
Even with last weeks victories, the Giants still find themselves 2 1/2 games in back of the KIA Tigers for the coveted fourth playoff spot. The Giants play host to the second place Doosan Bears from May 25th to 27th and then head to Incheon over the weekend to battle the first place SK Wyverns. This is going to be a tough week to try to gain ground in the standings. Lotte is 3-3 when facing the Doosan Bears, but 0-6 against the SK Wyverns this year.
You can check out Matthew's popular blog, True Stories of Korean Baseball, where he follows the entire KBO throughout the week.