The standings in April are like a broken pencil. Pointless. Yet, the Giants have worked their way out of seventh place with well over a hundred games to go. The stands should be packed! OK, sarcasm doesn’t suit me, but the early season has been painful.
Lotte started the week by taking two games from the lowly Nexen Heroes and watching the third game get washed out. Lotte will just have wait to beat these guys in early September.
In the first game of the series, Lotte held a slim 3-2 lead in the eighth inning when the Heroes tied the game on an RBI single from center fielder Yoo Han-joon.
This game appeared to be headed for extras, but second baseman Cho Seong-hwan lead off the bottom of the ninth inning with a double. Backup outfielder Kim Moon-ho drew a walk to put runners on first and second with no outs. Shortstop Moon Gyu-hyeon laid down a sac bunt to move both runners along. center fielder Jeon Joon-woo was intentionally walked to load the bases for shortstop Hwang Jae-gyun. Hwang put a base hit into left to walk off the Heroes and win the game and earn a savage beating from his teammates.
Lost in this game was a solid effort from Lotte starter Goh Won-joon. Goh threw seven innings of two-run baseball. Goh gave up six hits and one walk while striking out five. It looked like Goh would make for a solid end of the game option coming out of spring training, but he’s shown that he is more than capable as a starter. He’ll be key for Lotte in the coming months.
Putting Goh in the rotation with Sadowski, Song Seung-joon and Jang Won-joon gives the Giants a deeper starting rotation than any team except SK.
Lotte starter Ryan Sadowski must have gotten some rest and eaten a few good meals during the mid week rain out because he look excellent in the final game of the series.
Sadowski threw seven scoreless innings. Ryan gave up only three hits and three walks while striking out three. 11 of the outs Ryan recording came via the ground ball.
Lotte won 4-0 and scored all four runs via the long ball. Right fielder Son Ah-seop hit a three-run bomb in the first inning and catcher Kang Min-ho added a solo shot in the eighth.
Lotte got to stay at home and battle the KIA Tigers in Fortress Sajik over the weekend.
Lotte dropped the first game after jumping out to a big lead in the early innings. The Giants rallied for six runs in the fourth inning. The rally started with a solo homer from center fielder Jeon Joon-woo, but things got out of hand when KIA left fielder Kim Seong-hyeon badly misplayed a ball in the outfield. Kim dove to early and completely missed a line drive. The ball rolled to the wall and the flood gates opened. The strangest thing was that Kim wasn't charged with an error. Hong Seon-heun was give a clean triple.
KIA starter Yang Hyeon-jung was stuck having all six runs in the inning count against him.
Lotte must have taken their foot off the gas and tried to cruise to an easy W. The Tigers had other plans.
KIA picked up three-runs in the fifth inning with some help from the Lotte D. One run was already in on a RBI single from third baseman Lee Beom-ho when Lotte shortstop Hwang Jae-gyun made a key error to allow a run and keep the inning going to let the Tigers plate the third run of the inning..
KIA took the lead in the seventh inning when left fielder Kim Sang-hyeon was able to make up for his earlier miscue. Kim hit an RBI single and later scored on KIA first baseman Kim Ju-hyeong’s three-run homer. Kim’s blast gave KIA an 8-6 lead that would eventually be our final.
The Giants offense didn’t let the previous days’ meltdown effect them in the second game. The Lotte offense again showed up in a big way. Lotte rallied for eight runs in the fourth inning. We got ourselves a snowman rally! The rally sent eleven batters to the plate and was capped by a grand slam from DH Lee Dae-ho. Lee finished 2-3 with a HBP.
KIA starter Seo Jae-wong was simply left out to get pummeled. He was pulled after giving up the homer and he looked absolutely shell shocked.
Lotte starter Song Seung-joon threw pretty well. Song tossed 6 1/3 innings of three run baseball(two earned). Song gave up nine hits and two walks while striking out two.
The third game of the series was one of the crazier KBO games of the year. The game featured four lead changes and needed ten innings to be resolved to a meaningful conclusion.
Lotte held a 2-0 lead in the top of the eighth inning when KIA third baseman Lee Beom-ho, left fielder Kim Sang-hyeon and first baseman Kim Ju-hyeong hit back-to-back-to-back solo homers off of Lotte reliever Bryan Corey to give KIA a 3-2 lead.
Corey could stand to take a look at some video tape. The only way a professional pitcher gives up three straight homers is if he’s tipping his pitches, batters are stealing signs or Crash Davis told the batter what the next pitch was going to be. No one was on base, so stealing signs is unlikely. Crash Davis retired after setting the minor league record for career homers. So, that really only leaves on option.
Lotte struck back in the bottom of the eighth with a solo homer from DH Lee Dae-ho to tie the game at three.
KIA broke the 3-3 tie in the top of the tenth with an RBI groundout by first baseman Km Ju-hyeong after a wild pitch by reliever Kim Sa-yul allowed KIA pinch runner Yoon Jeong-woo to advance to scoring position.
In the bottom of the tenth Lotte started the inning with a double by first baseman Park Jong-yoon that bounced off the glove of the KIA center fielder. Right fielder Son Ah-seop struck out swinging and Lee Dae-ho was intentionally walked. Left fielder Lee In-guh hit a bouncer to short. KIA took the force out at second for the second out of the inning, but couldn’t turn the double play that would have ended the game. The ground ball resulted in runners on the corners with two outs.
Catcher Kang Min-ho hit another bouncer to short, but KIA shortstop Kim Seon-bin couldn't find the handle and everyone was safe including the tying run. Lotte second baseman Cho Seong-hwan hit another bouncer to short. This time the ball bounced over Kim's glove and into left field to score the game winning run.
Lost in this game was another brilliant effort from starter Goh Won-joon.
Goh threw seven shutout innings. Goh surrendered nine hits and struck out two before being lifted due to his high pitch count. Goh is now the proud owner of a 2.08 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. He’s also struck out 28 batters in 39 innings.
Lotte will spend the entire week away from Busan. The Giants first head to Incheon to battle the first place SK Wyverns at Munhak Stadium. Then, head to Seoul for three games with the suprising second place LG Twins. Lotte will send Lee Jae-gon out to the mound to face the Wyverns on Tuesday. Lee only has a 2.46 ERA! Oh, wait. That’s his WHIP. His ERA is over 10 for the year. Hey, no where to go but down right?
You can read Matthew's blog, True Stories of Korean Baseball, where he follows the entire KBO each week.
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