BUSAN, South Korea –Lotte is still stuck in seventh place, but now isn’t the time for fans to lament. That’s for White Sox (like the writer of this column) fans to do. KBO fans need to think positive. Lotte simply has too much talent to be this bad. That excuse even works for the White Sox.
This week started with victory. Lotte battered the LG Twins 8-5 on Tuesday.
The Twins jumped out to a four-run lead after picking up a run in the second inning and rallying for three in the third, but Lotte picked up a couple runs to get back in the game and took the lead in the bottom of the seventh with a five-run rally.
Lotte scored the first run of the inning on an RBI double from catcher Kang Min-ho to tie the game at four. Lotte loaded the bases and center fielder Hwang Seong-yeong singled into center to give Lotte a 5-4 lead. The next batter, third baseman Jeon Joon-woo, doubled to deep center to score a pair and push the lead to 7-5. Lotte added another run on an RBI groundout by shortstop Hwang Jae-gyun to push the lead to 8-4.
LG added a late run, but never really threatened to get back in the game once Lotte came back.
On Wednesday, Lotte scored two runs in the first inning on a 2-run homer from right fielder Son Ah-seop. Son finished 3-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored. It was all downhill from there.
On Thursday, Lotte battled back from a 5-0 deficit to take a 7-5 lead thanks to a six-run rally in the fifth inning, but the Lotte pitching staff had a little trouble.
Whenever starter Song Seung-joon looks like he's turned a corner, he has a game like he threw on Thursday. Song was punished for seven runs on eight hits during his 5 1/3 innigs. Goh Won-joon was stuck with the loss because he came in for Song with runners on base in the sixth inning. Goh couldn't get the job done, but Song created the mess in the first place.
Left fielder Lee In-guh, DH Hong Seong-heun and second baseman Cho Seong-hwan each drove in a pair of runs for the Giants. Lee Dae-ho also stole his first base in 1460 days. That’s almost exactly four years.
Lotte returned from Seoul to Fortress Sajik for a weekend series with the KIA Tigers. Lotte fans had plenty to cheer about as the Giants took two out of three from the Kitties.
Lotte jumped out to a 5-1 lead on Friday night, but KIA battled back with a three-run rally in the fifth inning to cut the lead to 5-4.
Lotte got a solo homer from second baseman Cho Seong-hwan in the sixth inning that proved to be the difference on the scoreboard. KIA added a late run in the eighth inning, but Lotte closer Goh Won-joon recorded five consecutive outs to kill the late rally and save the game.
Lotte dropped a rain-soaked game that lasted only six innings on Saturday. KIA starter Yang Hyeon-jong limited the KIA offense to only one run and the Lotte bullpen let KIA pick up a few runs after Ryan Sadowski left the game after the third inning.
It was good to see Ryan back in the KBO, but it was clear that he still wasn’t 100%. Ryan doesn’t have his stamina built up yet, and he looked skinnier than usual on the mound. Ryan threw three scoreless innings. He only allowed two hits and one walk, but he didn’t strike anyone out.
Lotte battled back and won Sunday’s rubber match, 7-2. The Lotte offense put up a bunch of runs in the early innings and starter Jang Won-joon was able to cruise to victory.
Jang threw seven innings and only gave up one run. Jang allowed six hits and one walk while striking out six. Jang had LG batters beating the ball into the turf. Jang recorded 11 ground ball outs.
Lotte first baseman Lee Dae-ho had a solid day at the plate for the Giants. Lee went 2-2 with a solo homer and an RBI single. He also drew two walks and scored another run. Third baseman Hwang Jae-gyun chipper in with a 3-4, one double and two RBI effort.
Lotte battles their Daegu-based rivals, the Samsung Lions, at Fortress Sajik during the week. The Giants will go back to Seoul for a series with the Doosan Bears over the weekend. Doosan and Samsung are second and third in the standings right now. This could be a good week for the Giants to either get back in the race or stay next to Hanhwa at the bottom of the standings.
You can read Matthew's blog, True Stories of Korean Baseball, where he follows the entire KBO each week.
Ryan Sadowski makes the funny papers