Professional baseball is shifting from a “best of three” to a “best of four” early season report card.
As of the sixth day, the Korean Baseball Organization’s midseason standings show the first-place SSG Landers (33 wins, 1 tie, 18 losses, 0.647 winning percentage), the second-place LG Twins (33 wins, 1 tie, 20 losses, 0.623), and the third-place Lotte Giants (29 wins, 20 losses, 0.592) with a three-game lead.
Fourth-place NC Dinos (26 wins, 24 losses, 0.520), fifth-place Doosan Bears (25 wins, 1 draw, 24 losses, 0.510), sixth-place KIA Tigers (23 wins, 25 losses, 0.479) and seventh-place Samsung Lions (23 wins, 28 losses, 0.451) are separated by 3.5 games. Seventh-place Samsung, which has slipped to the bottom of the standings, is 1.5 games behind sixth-place KIA.
The race to the bottom is even tighter. The eighth-place Kiwoom Heroes (22 wins, 33 losses, 0.400), ninth-place KT WIZ (19 wins, 2 draws, 30 losses, 0.388), and Hanwha Eagles (19 wins, 3 draws, 30 losses) are three games behind seventh-place Samsung in the race for the title.
In baseball on Saturday, LG snapped a three-game losing streak with a sweep of Kiwoom.
LG pounded Kiwoom for 15 runs and 15 hits in a 9-1 victory in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul.
LG captain Oh Ji-hwan, who had struggled in his last 10 games, came through with a multi-hit game (two or more hits in a game) for the first time in 16 games since March 18 against the KT Wiz, going 2-for-4 with four RBIs and one run scored.
Foreign-born Austin Dean went 4-for-5 with a pair of singles, a double and a triple, and reached base three times in four plate appearances.
Austin hit a leadoff triple in the second inning, 0-0, and then scored on Park’s infield grounder for the game-winning run.
LG scored three runs in the fourth inning on back-to-back singles by Austin and Park Dong-won, a sacrifice bunt by Moon Bo-kyung to put runners on second and third, and a sacrifice fly by Kim Bum-seok. LG rookie catcher Kim Bum-seok collected his first career RBI.
Oh delivered a two-RBI double to left center in the fifth inning for a 4-0 lead, and Moon followed with a two-RBI single to left center in the seventh inning for a 6-1 lead.
Moon also went 3-for-3 with three RBIs.
LG starter Casey Kelly improved to 6-3 on the season with five innings of five-hit ball, three walks, seven strikeouts and one earned run.
SSG defeats KIA with strong bullpen of Noh Kyung-eun, Koh Hyo-joon, and Seo Jin-yong
In Gwangju, SSG used a strong bullpen to defeat KIA 2-1.
SSG got on the board in the top of the first inning when Park Sung-ho singled up the middle and Choi Jeong-jeong doubled to left field.
Guillermo Heredia followed with a walk, and Ha Jae-hoon sent both runners home with a bases-loaded single that landed in front of the center fielder.
KIA came back with a solo home run by Park Chan-ho in the fourth, but starter Roenis Elias, who pitched seven scoreless innings, was followed by Noh Kyung-eun, Go Hyo-joon (eighth) and Seo Jin-yong (ninth) to preserve the one-run victory.
Seo narrowly escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth, leaving him one save shy of his 20th of the season.
KIA rookie Yoon Young-cheol, who set new records for most innings pitched (7) and most pitches thrown (99) in a season, suffered his second loss in three starts after giving up two runs and getting no offensive support.
■ Doosan’s Kim Jae-hwan hits two-run homer, Kim Dae-hyun hits solo shot to help Jang Won-jun win two games
The Doosan Bears defeated the Hanwha Eagles 4-1 at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul.
Doosan’s veteran left-hander, Jang Won-jun, who earned his second win of the season with 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball against the Samsung Lions on March 23, gave the Bears their first victory in five years.
It took him five years to reach the 130-win milestone, but he reached 131 in 14 days.
Doosan took the lead in the bottom of the second inning on a cool two-run double by Kim Jae-hwan. Kim fired up the cannon for the first time in 20 days since May 17 against the Kiwoom Heroes.
In the third inning, with the score 2-1, Doosan’s Kim Dae-hyun capped the scoring with a solo shot to left field.
Doosan added a run in the bottom of the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Heo Kyung-min with runners on first and third after two walks and a hit batter.
Hanwha, which matched Doosan with 10 hits, had its last chance in the top of the ninth with two outs after a single and two walks, but Kim In-hwan was thrown out at second base. Hanwha left 12 runners on base.
Samsung’s Seung-hwan Oh reaches 500 saves in Korea-Hanmiil…1.5 games behind 6th-place KIA
Seung-hwan Oh (Samsung Lions) reached the 500-save milestone in the Korean-American Baseball Organization.
Seung-hwan Oh entered the game in the top of the ninth inning of a 9-6 home game against the NC Dinos at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu on Saturday and pitched one inning of one-hit, one-strikeout ball to earn his eighth save of the season.
Oh, who made his professional debut in 2005, now has 378 career saves in the KBO, 42 in Major League Baseball and 80 in Nippon Professional Baseball.
He passed Son Seung-rak (271 saves) for second place on the KBO’s all-time saves list by more than 100, building an immortal save tower that may not be broken anytime soon.
Samsung won 9-6 to close to within 1.5 games of the sixth-place KIA Tigers.
Samsung jumped on NC starter Taylor Widener for four runs in the first inning.
Three consecutive singles put 토토사이트 runners on first and second, and then Oh Jae-il blasted a two-run double to the right side of the infield for a quick 4-0 lead.
After NC scored three runs in the top of the third, capitalizing on a bad pitch from Samsung starter Baek Jeong-hyun, Samsung virtually sealed the game with a big fifth inning to take a 5-3 lead.
With two outs, Lee Jae-hyun and Kim Ho-jae hit back-to-back RBI singles to extend Samsung’s lead to 9-3.
In the bottom of the ninth, Oh Seung-hwan gave up a leadoff single to Son As-seob, but he got the next batter, Seo Ho-cheol, to fly out to second base.
He then induced Jason Martin to ground out to first base and then ran the bases himself to end the game.
■ WBC representatives go head-to-head…KT’s Ko Young-pyo wins decision over Lotte’s Park Se-woong
In Busan, the KT WIZ defeated the Lotte Giants 4-1 to extend their winning streak to three games.
In a pitcher’s duel between World Baseball Classic (WBC) representatives, Ko Young-pyo (KT) won a decision over Park Se-woong (Lotte), who had recently won three straight games.
Ko threw seven innings of one-run ball on 87 pitches to extend his winning streak to six games at Sajik Stadium. Park Se-woong also pitched six innings of two-run ball with seven strikeouts, but was saddled with the loss due to a silent batting lineup.
KT scored two runs in the second inning with runners on first and second on a double by Lee Ho-yeon and a sacrifice fly by Choi Jae-dae. They added a run in the seventh on a passed ball and a run in the ninth on Kim Min-hyuk’s RBI single to left.
Lotte trailed 0-2 in the sixth inning before Ko Young-pyo’s wild pitch put runners on second and third with one out.
Eighth-ranked Kiwoom and ninth-ranked KT-Hanwha lined up without a run, setting up a fierce battle for the lead.