The week started with the first tie of the season (in the KBO the game is called after 12 innings). Lotte was trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth and Doosan brought in closer Lim Tae-hoon to finish the Giants off. DH Hong Seong-heun lead off the inning with a walk and was quickly replaced by a pinch runner. First baseman Lee Dae-ho laced a single into left/center to put runners on first and second with no outs.
Lee was also lifted for a pinch runner. The runner on second was picked off at second when catcher Kang Min-ho couldn't get a bunt down. The lead runner was tagged out, but the runner on first was able to advance. Kang was eventually retired for the second out, but center-fielder Jeong Joon-woo put a line drive into right field to put runners on first and third. Shortstop Moon Gyu-hyeon poked a single into left to drive in the tying run. Doosan was able to end the inning without being walked off, but it was on to extra innings.
Lotte made things exciting in the bottom of the twelfth when left fielder Kim Ju-chan singled with two outs. Second baseman Cho Seong-hwan sent a line drive into the gap in right/center. Kim made the turn at third and the third base coach was windmilling. The throw from the cut-off man was on line. The ball got to the plate about five feet ahead of Kim and the gassed outfielder was tagged out for the final out of the game.
Lotte lost the next two games in spectacular fashion. Lotte starter Lee Jae-gon was mediocre and was chased from the game early. A gassed Lotte bullpen was asked to keep Doosan off the scoreboard. They failed and Lotte was beaten 10-2. The rubber match was a gut-wrenching affair that saw the Giants build a 6-2 lead only to see it erased in less than an inning and the lead handed over to Doosan in next inning. Lotte first baseman Park Jong-yoon lead the Giants' offense by going 2-3 with a walk, a double, three RBIs, a run scored and a stolen base. Even Park’s solid effort wasn’t enough to keep the Giants from losing 7-6.
Over the weekend Lotte lost two out of three to a surprising LG Twins team.
The first game was another blowout as Lotte lost 8-2. LG starter Ben Jukich handcuffed the Lotte offense and Lotte starter Jang Won-joon had a rough time with the LG batters. Jang threw 5 ? innings and gave up four runs (three earned). Jang allowed eight hits and one walk while striking out four.
The Saturday game was equally hard to watch. Lotte sent Lee Yong-hoon out to the mound to start and he might as well have come right back. Lee was chased from the game after recording two outs and giving up four runs. The Lotte bullpen held together and threw 8 ? scoreless innings while the Lotte offense sputtered. Bae Jang-ho tossed four scoreless innings. Bae surrendered only three hits while striking out one. Lotte scored a few late runs with a pair of fake rallies, but fell 4-3.
Lotte finally notched one in the ‘W’ column on Sunday behind a terrific pitching effort. Starter Song Seung-joon threw 5 2/3 innings of one-run baseball. Song gave up five hits, three walks and a hit batsman while striking out five. Lotte closer Goh Won-joon was asked to throw 3 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball to earn the save. Goh gave up only one hit and one walk while striking out three.
Lotte rallied for three runs in the fifth inning to take a 3-1 lead and chase LG starter Shim Su-chang from the game. Second baseman Cho Seong-hwan lead the Lotte offense by going 1-3 with a walk, a HBP, one RBI and two runs scored.
The Giants will head to Daejeon for three games with the Hanwha Eagles, and then back to Fortress Sajik for a weekend series against the defending champion SK Wyverns.
You can read Matthew's blog, True Stories of Korean Baseball, where he follows the entire KBO each week.
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