BUSAN, South Korea – Teams reach a point in the season where they come together and learn to win as a team. Points like this are important for a team to reach post season success.
This week…was not one of those points for the Lotte Giants.
The team dropped five out of six games and played in mostly foul weather. If you have to lose, do it in nice weather. There is nothing worse than a loss on a nasty day. Losses like that turn fans away from the stadium.
The Giants dropped two out of three games at home to the KIA Tigers and then got swept by the SK Wyverns in Incheon. The Wyverns outscored the Giants 25-12 in the three game series. That makes the games sound closer than they really were. I can't believe 2nd baseman Park Jun-seo played on Sunday. He screwed himself into the ground three times on Saturday against SK ace Kim Kwang-hyeon. I guess his teammates dug him out of the giant hole he was stuck in before the game started.
One of the few diamonds to come out of this lump of coal was starting pitcher Lee Myeong-woo. Lee was one out away from a complete game against the KIA Tigers. He was the only Lotte pitcher to earn a "W" this week and one of the few that deserved to. The 28-year old righty has spent the last five years bouncing between the Futures League and the Lotte bullpen. This is Lee's first crack at a KBO rotation and it looks like he's starting to get the hang of it. Lee allowed six hits and stuck out 6 in the victory. 74 of his 110 pitches went for strikes and he didn't walk any one.
Contol has been an issue for Lee in the past. If he's going to succeed in the KBO, he needs to find a way to keep throwing strikes. Lotte ace Jo Jeong-hoon was outdueled by Kim Kwang-hyeon. If he pitched the way he did on any other day, the Giants are 2-4 instead of 1-5. Jo tossed 8 innings of two-run baseball against the Wyverns. Jo gave up 6 hits and 1 walk while striking out 5.
At the plate for Lotte, Park Jong-yoon was this week's tallest midget. Park hit .550 in 20 at bats. He slugged three homers, stole two bases, drove in nine runs and scored five. He was Mr. Everything for a Lotte offense that needed a boost. Sadly, the Lotte bullpen didn't offer much in the way of "not giving up ridiculous amounts of runs."
DH Hong Seong-heun was only able to add one RBI to his league leading 31 RBI total. He's still seven RBIs ahead of teammate Lee Dae-ho in second. Karim Garcia's bat cooled considerably. The Mexican national went only 5 for 26 this week.
Infielder/Outfielder/Occasional leadoff hitter Kim Joo-chan really struggled. Kim was 3-The Week. If he's not one of the guys getting on base for the Lotte's big bats, the Giants are going to struggle scoring runs.
Lotte is at home for all six games this week. This should be a great opportunity to turn the season around and get back into contention for the last playoff spot. Lotte faces Nexen on Tuesday through Thursday and gets a rematch with KIA during the weekend. If Lotte wants to get out of the cellar, a few wins against the 7th place Nexen Heroes would be a good place to start.
You can check out Matthew's popular Korean Baseball blog, True Stories of Korean Baseball, where he follows the KBO throughout the week.