Doosan Bears. Won 4, lost 2.
A difficult week on paper for Doosan facing the top 2, NC Dinos and Kia Tigers, but they’ll be pretty happy with their total of 4 wins, especially as three came in the sweep of the leaders at the weekend. Even the two games they lost to NC were only one score games (2-1 on both occasions).
They were indebted to some tragic bullpen pitching on Friday, bouncing back from 6-2 down in the 9th to win 7-6 courtesy of back to back home runs from Choi Ju-hwan and Nick Evans. Saturday was sweet. They inflicted the first defeat on Yang Hyun-jeong and Yoo Hee-gwon pitched a complete game shut out.
Overall last week, Doosan were pretty damn competitive. A low team ERA of 2.67, a WHIP of 1.33, batting exactly .300 and the joint second fewest number of errors. 17 runs conceded in 6 games against the top 2 and 4 wins recorded is a very fine week.
Nexen Heroes. Won 4, lost 2.
A good week capped off by Jo Sang-woo notching his first ever quality start for Nexen, which moved him to 4-0 for the season and Nexen to within touching distance of the top 2.
Jake Brigham made his debut for the Heroes on Wednesday and was treated to some classic KBO randomness. Brigham pitched 5 scoreless innings (81 pitches, 2 hits, 4 walks, 2 strike outs) and now holds an early WHIP of 1.20. He left with his team riding a 4-0 lead but a combination of Ma Jeong-gil and Lee Bo-geun saw any chance of an early win for Brigham disappear.
The Heroes eventually took the game, and the series, after Jeong Woo-ram gave up a zero out, walk off grand slam hit from Lee Tae-geun. Sometimes you wonder what the new players make of the league? The starting pitchers, Brigham and Lee Tae-yang, had combined to throw over 11 innings of 4 run baseball. Lee Bo-geun, Ma and Jeong gave up 10 runs between them and collectively only managed 3 outs.
NC Dinos. Won 3, lost 3.
An average week for one of the best teams in Korea. The series win in Jamsil against Doosan Bears was admirable even if their two wins that week were very close. When NC were beaten, they tended to get hammered, as the 11-1 drubbing by SK confirmed at the weekend.
Lee Jae-hak pitched 6 innings on Saturday as NC won by the narrowest of margains. Their bullpen is so good that any game in which the starter doesn’t go the distance is still very much winnable. This is in stark contrast to pretty much every other team in the league. The three men out of the pen allowed only 3 SK batters to reach base from the 7-9th innings.
Meanwhile, this was Lee’s first win of 2017. Their young ace has endured a horrid start to the season, and now boasts a 1-3 record, 7.47 ERA and a negative war. It was the first time this year Lee hasn’t given up at least 3 runs. Overall, it was dreadful week with the bats for NC. League lowest team average and OPS. 2 home runs matched only by LG. The 14 runs scored was by far the lowest in the league, only LG were within touching distance.
Kia Tigers. Won 3, lost 3.
A tale of mixed fortunes for the Tigers agaisnt the Jamsil roommates this week. They swept LG Twins from Tuesday to Thursday and then got swept by Doosan Bears from Friday to Sunday. Classic Korean baseball.
The Doosan series will be memorable for Im Chang-yong’s latest meltdown. Seconds before blowing a 6-2 lead, the camera flashed to an awkwardly smiling Hector Noesi on the bench, barely able to watch what was happening on the field. Doosan hadn’t even finished celebrating Choi Ju-hwan’s tieing homer when Nick Evans won the game and Im left in disgrace.
The Tigers finally sent their misfiring captain, Kim Ju-chan, down to the minor leagues after a horrendous start to the season. Kia’s best hitter for the past few years, who notched a career best 101 RBIS in 2016, is posting a .170/.215/.270 slashline this season and a -0.60 WAR. The Tigers replaced him with Kim Ju-Hyeong, who is even worse. In 72 at bats, Kim Ju-Hyeong hasn’t recorded an RBI since April 12th nor managed 2 or more hits in a game since the opening weekend. Prior to Sunday’s game, he had 3 hits in 44 at bats. When do you give youth a chance?
LG Twins. Won 2, lost 4.
A difficult week for the Twins who lost 4 straight before a confidence boasting series win over the Lotte Giants in Jamsil. They departed Gwangju on Thursday night winless after taking two heavy defeats – one for Henry Sosa who normally loves playing against his old team – and carried that form into Friday’s 9-4 defeat by Lotte.
David Huff is still working his way slowly back into form. The American, one of the KBO’s best pitchers in 2016, completed 6 innings in his second game back, giving up 5 earned runs from 8 hits (1 home run) and 1 walk. On Saturday, Im Chan-kyu enhanced his blossoming reputation with his 4th straight win, tossing 6.2 innings of 1 run baseball. In his last 36 innings, Im has just 3 earned runs against his name. He is LG’s ace.
But overall it wasn’t a good week. The Twins recorded the second worst team ERA, the second lowest OPS and their return of 2 home runs tied with NC as the worst in the league.
*** feature image source: http://www.mykbo.com. Current rankings, news and videos found there.