BUSAN South Korea — Corey actually pitched about as well as he could have considering the circumstances he was thrust into. Corey started the year as a starting pitcher due to injuries in the Lotte rotation. This was a guy who had spent the majority of his professional career as a reliever and had only really begun to become a starting pitcher at the age of 35 with a AAA club.
Corey was reasonably competent as a starter, but Corey was tossed back into a bullpen role after only a month of starting. Lotte also suffered from a lack of reliable options in the back of the bullpen. Corey immediately threw four out of five days, including a four-inning, 44-pitch effort AND then converted a simple, one inning save the next day. Corey was never really the same after that stretch.
Corey blew three of his next four save attempts, lost the closer job and fell out of favor with management. Then, Corey got demoted to the Futures League. Corey came back after about three weeks on the farm and started two games. He threw a good game and a poor game and finally got released.
It wouldn’t shock me to see Corey back in Korea. If he were in a more stable situation, it’s likely he would have met with more success than he had with a first-year manager who clearly doesn’t comprehend how to manage a pitching staff.
Corey’s replacement has already been found and will likely land in Korea soon. Chris Bootcheck was last seen with the Tampa Bay Rays AAA club. He owns a 3.57 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 58 AAA innings. He’s struck out 48 and walked only 19 so far this year. His role with Lotte is anyone’s guess. He’s been used as a starter and a reliever as recently as this year, so he could go either way. Lotte could sure use some help in the back of the bullpen.
The Weekly Wrap
Lotte started the week by taking two games from the Doosan Bears and watching the rain during the third game. Hey, if two struggling team meet, well, one has to win, right?
Lotte’s pitching was the story against Doosan. In the first game, starter Song Seung-joon gave up a couple early wins, but bounced back from a rough start to actually turn in a decent effort and got a 6-2 victory. Song threw six innings of two-run baseball. Song gave up seven hits and two walks while striking out three.
We had a little game of “Top this” in the second game of the series. Starter Ryan Sadowski threw a brilliant game and the Giants managed to not choke this one away. Sadowski tossed seven innings (95 pitches, 66 strikes) of one-run ball. Sadowski gave up four hits, no walks and struck out six.The only Doosan Bear that got near him was left fielder Kim Hyeon-su who tagged Ryan for a solo homer in the seventh.
The Giants gave Ryan just enough support to earn a 4-1 victory.
Infielder Song Yong-seok got a rare start at third base and scored Lotte's first run in the second inning. Song made a mad dash from second base on a single from left fielder Kim Ju-chan. Lotte picked up another run in the fifth inning when Jeon Joon-woo tripled and scored on a RBI ground out from right fielder Son Ah-seop.
Shortstop Moon Gyu-hyeon hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth to make sure Doosan knew they were beaten.
Lotte headed to Incheon and were met by losses, followed by frustration, followed by rain.
Lotte dropped the first game 10-2 in the game that proved to be Brian Corey’s last stand in Korea.
The game was knotted at one….until Lotte fell to pieces faster than a thirteen-year-old girl in an English classroom. By the time the dust had settled, SK had sprayed line drives all over the field, second baseman Cho Seong-hwan had committed a back-breaking error, Brian Corey was headed home for the summer and Lotte was facing a 8-1 deficit. It was amazing to watch. Managers and coaches usually get fired after games like this. Thankfully, Lotte had Corey to cut. The pitching coach gets a stay of execution.
Lotte wasted a brilliant effort from starter Goh Won-joon in the next game and lost 2-1 because they couldn’t solve a 30-year-old starter with a name that’s really hard to romanize.
Goh threw eight innings of two-run ball. Goh gave up seven hits and three walks while striking out two.
The Lotte offense scratched across a run in the sixth inning on a RBI single from catcher Kang Min-ho that tied the game at one, but they couldn’t push across the second run after the SK starter gave way to the bullpen. The SK bullpen first bailed out the starter and proceeded to shut down the any attempts by Lotte to even get on base. It was just a matter of time before SK pushed across the go-ahead run and they did.
SK really wanted to get the final game of the series in. I guess they really wanted the sweep. The game started and Lotte actually held a 2-0 lead thanks in part to a solo homer by Lee Dae-ho, but as soon as Lee hit the homer, the rains came and the game was stopped. The stoppage turned into a cancellation and Lee’s 21st homer was wiped off the books.
On tap for Lotte this week is…more frustration! Lotte has all six games at home this week. The Giants will start the week with a three-game set against Karim Garcia and the Hanhwa Eagles and then play host to the LG Twins over the weekend…weather permitting.
You can read Matthew's blog, True Stories of Korean Baseball, where he follows the entire KBO each week.