Brian Corey saw a solid effort go to waste. Corey went six innings and gave up two runs, while he allowed three hits and two walks and struck out seven.
Lotte dropped the next two games to Hanhwa and actually were in sole possession of last place. Hanhwa ace Ryu Hyeon-jin returned to form and kept the Lotte offense in check during a 4-2 loss while Lotte starter Lee Jae-gon's problems continued. Lee was chased in the second inning after giving up all four Hanhwa runs. Reliever Heo Joon-hyeok threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings (84 pitches, 56 strikes) of relief work to keep the game close. Why not let Heo start? After last week's struggles, Lee is the proud owner of a 9.53 ERA and a 2.29 WHIP. Ryan Sadowski can't come back from injury fast enough.
Lotte starter Jang Won-joon saw another good effort go to waste in the series finale. Jang threw six shutout innings (96 pitches, 62 strikes) before giving way to the Lotte arson squad. Jang allowed four hits and two walks while striking out six. He got to sit on the bench and watch the Lotte bullpen blow up during the late innings. Kim Sa-yul was allowed to face four batters. He gave up three hits, walked one and threw a wild pitch without recording an out. He was lifted for Lim Kyeong-wan. Lim gave up two more hits, but actually recorded an out before getting yanked. By the time the dust settled, Lotte was stuck with a 4-1 loss.
American Brian Corey was a great off season pick-up for the Giants, but lacks run
support from the Giants' usually high-powered offense.
Lotte was given a day off by the baseball gods on Friday. It was a wet evening on the peninsula that saw half of the KBO's slate cancelled.
The Giants returned to action on Saturday and got back on the right track against the SK Wyverns. Saturday's game was an absolutely wild affair that saw game go into extras and the lead changed hands four times in the last three innings. The Giants gladly accepted the walkoff W after their struggles in Daejon.
SK held a 4-1 lead in the 9th inning, but in the bottom of the ninth, Lotte catcher Kang Min-ho homered to straight away center to cut the deficit to 4-2.
After Lotte second baseman Cho Seong-hwan grounded out to third for the first out of the inning, backup third baseman Park Jin-hwan laced a double in the left/center gap. Reserve outfielder Park Jun-seo grounded out back to the pitcher to advance Jin-hwan to third. Lotte center fielder Jeon Joon-woo hit a grounder to SK shortstop Choi Yoon-seok. The throw was a few feet wide of first base and it flew past first baseman Park Jeong-kwon. Jeon was abled to advance to second and Park was able to score to cut the lead to 4-3.
Lotte shortstop Hwang Jae-gyun tripled to score Jeon and put the go-ahead run at third. Lotte would load the bases with two outs, but DH Hong Seong-heun struck out swinging to end the inning.
SK struck back in the top of the tenth inning. The Wyverns put runners on second and third with one out. Pinch hitter Lee Ho-joon put a single into right that scored both runs and gave SK a 6-4 lead.
The Lotte offense kept plugging away in the bottom of the tenth. The Giants put runners on second and third with one out. Bench warmer Hwang Seong-yeong hit a bouncer to the normally sure-handed SK second baseman Jeong Geun-woo. The ball bounced off of Jeong's glove and into center. One run scored to cut the lead to 6-5. Jeon Joon-woo was drilled in the leg to load the bases. Hwang Jae-gyun struck again with a single into right that scored a pair and gave Lotte the 7-6 win and earn Hwang a beating at the hands of his teammates.
Lost in this game was a solid effort from Lotter starter Song Seung-joon. Song threw seven innings of two-run (one earned) baseball. Song gave up only seven hits, one walk and one hit batsman while striking out six. Song has really developed from a mediocre innings eater with plus stuff to a solid starter with plus stuff over the last year or so.
Lotte dropped the rubber match of the series 9-7 in game that saw non-Korean starter Bryan Corey struggle for the first time in Korea. Corey threw five innings, but was tagged for five runs (four earned). Corey gave up six hits and two walks while striking out one.
One positive that Lotte fans could take from this game is that slugger Lee Dae-ho got back on track. Lee hadn't homered since the first weekend of the season, but he hit a pair of two-run bombs to double his season total to four. A big week from Lee could go a long way to get the Giants out of the cellar and back into playoff contention.
The Giants are still waiting on Ryan Sadowski's return to action. If Ryan can't return soon, closer Goh Won-joon might be forced into the rotation.
Some of the articles in the Korean press have hinted that the Giants are growing impatient with Ryan's inability to get healthy, but anyone who's ever suffered an oblique injury knows that they're tricky injuries to get over. Abdominal muscles are a nightmare to get over. They're constantly in use and most people don't realize it until they suffer an injury there. The Korean press is also reporting that a return is imminent. Fingers and toes crossed, but we all just want to see Ryan healthy and back on the mound.
Lotte will stay at home for three games against the LG Twins and then head to Kwangju to battle the KIA Tigers over the weekend.
You can read Matthew's blog, True Stories of Korean Baseball, where he follows the entire KBO each week.