BUSAN, South Korea — Lotte started the post All-star break looking as lethargic as they did when they started the season. Lotte starter Goh Won-joon looked flat and uninterested and it showed in his stat line. Goh threw 5 1/3 innings(96 pitches, 61 strikes) and gave up five runs(all earned). Goh allowed nine hits and one walk while striking out four.
Things were bad when Goh was in the game, but things got out of hand when Lotte called upon its bullpen. "Relievers"(I didn't see them providing very much relief) Bae Jang-ho, Jin Myeong-ho and Kim Myeong-seong were all lit up.
Journeyman outfielder Ahn Chi-yong tagged Lotte pitching for two homers. Ahn went 3-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored. Catcher Jeong Sang-ho went 4-5 with two doubles, a homer, three RBIs and three runs scored.
SK starter Lee Yeong-wook was pulled from the game in the fourth inning because, well, he's not a very good pitcher. Lee Seung-ho came in and threw three scoreless innings. Lee gave up only one hit and one walk while striking out one.
On Friday versus Doosan, 31-year old journeyman outfielder Ahn Chi-yong has hit three homers in his last two games. He should also be booking a trip to Macau and buying as many lottery tickets as he can. Luck like this doesn't come around often. Ahn finished the game 2-4 with three RBIs and a run scored.
Lotte was facing a 4-2 deficit in the fifth inning. Lotte put runners on second and third with one out. Lotte center fielder Jeon Joon-woo put a base-hit into left and both runners were able to score to tie the game at four.
Jeon struck again in the seventh inning. Jeon blasted a homer after third baseman Hwang Jae-gyun lead off the inning with a single. Jeon's blast gave Lotte a 6-4 advantage. Jeon finished the game 3-4 with four RBIs and a run scored.
To the surprise of most KBO watchers, the Lotte bullpen didn't blow the lead. Reliever Lim Kyeong-wan threw an uneventful eighth inning and pseudo-closer Kim Sa-yul threw a scoreless ninth.
Lotte finished out the weekend sweep by pounding Doosan, and surprisingly the bullpen held up again. Jeon Joon-woo, had a great weekend at the plate, and Kang Min-ho and Lee Dae-ho also homered this weekend, with decent outings from Sadowski on Saturday and Bootcheck on Sunday.
LG might have had an off week, but their 4-1 week takes Lotte into the playoff picture with a demand of respect from the Korean baseball world. Hong Seong-heung has raised his average to .299 after early struggles and Jang Won-joon (9-3, 3.63) has been absolutely lights out.
Lotte starts off the week in Daejon versus Karim Garcia and Hanwha.
You can read Matthew's blog, True Stories of Korean Baseball, where he follows the entire KBO each week.