Monday, June 1, 2009

5/29 - 5/31 Weekend Roundup and News

This weekend was like me at work, NO TIES! I thought of that in 30 seconds. It shows, but it's still three times as witty as anything Mr. Nitkowski has posted on his twitter. That's not fair. Twice as witty.

LG vs. KIA

5/29 - KIA 12, LG 5
5/30 - KIA 5, LG 1
5/31 - KIA 7, LG 5

KIA actually held a 3-2 lead in the 8th inning of Friday night's contest, but KIA rallied for 9 runs(!) in the top of the 8th to put the game waaay out of reach. LG ace Bong Jung-geun essentially ran out of gas and the LG bullpen threw batting practice. This was a total team rally. I'm not going to go blow-by-blow, but this felt like it wouldn't stop. LG had a Charlie Brown inning. KIA leadoff hitter/2nd baseman Kim Jong-kuk lead the way by going 4-5 with a double, 2 RBIs and 3 runs scored. Bong threw well until that fateful 8th inning. He finished with 7 earned runs in 7 1/3 innings(120 pitches, 72 strikes) pitched. He allowed 8 hits, 4 walks and 1 hit batsman while striking out 4. KIA's starter-turned-closer Yoon Seok-min returned to the rotation and delivered a quality start. Yoon tossed 6 innings(96 pitches, 59 strikes) of 2-run baseball. He allowed 7 hits and 3 walks while striking out 4.

On Saturday 3 KIA pitchers combined to shutout the potent LG offense for 8 innings. LG didn't get on the scoreboard until catcher Cho In-seong hit a solo homer off of reliever Yoo Dong-hoon. KIA rallied for 2 runs in the first inning and it wound up being all they needed. KIA 2nd baseman Kim Jong-kuk lead off the game with a walk. Center fielder Kim Won-seop hit a triple down the right field line to drive in Jong-kuk. KIA DH Hong Sei-won grounded out to 2nd to score Won-seop from 3rd. Ho-hum. 2-0 and then cruise control for the rest of the game.

LG actually held a 5-4 lead in the 9th inning of Sunday's game thanks to a 4-run rally in the 7th inning. The LG bullpen, however, had other ideas. With runners on 1st and 2nd and 1 out in the bottom of the 9th, pinch hitter Lee Jae-joo hit a single to left to tie the game at 5. The next batter, catcher Kim Sang-hoon, hit a comebacker to the pitcher. Lee was called safe at 2nd, but Kim was forced out at first. Right fielder Lee Jon-beom hit a 0-2 pitch into shallow right field for a single. Somehow, both runners were able to beat the throw from right. Yoo Dong-hoon threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings to earn the save. Rick Guttormson was the starter in this one for KIA and he looked human. Ricky Lee tossed 6 innings(125 pitches, 79 strikes) of 5-run baseball. He allowed 8 hits and 1 walk while striking out 4.

Seoul Heroes vs. Lotte

5/29 - Heroes 7, Lotte 5
5/30 - Heroes 10, Lotte 8
5/31 - Heroes 7, Lotte 3

Royster's boys actually held a 5-4 lead in the 8th inning on Friday night, but with few other options he left starting pitcher Song Seung-joon in for the 8th inning and brought in Adkins when he got in trouble. With 2 outs and the bases loaded, Kim Jeong-ho dropped a 2 RBI single into center to give the Heroes a 6-5 lead. Doug Clark laced an RBI single into right to make it a 7-5 advantage. Hwang Doo-seong tossed a scoreless 9th to earn the save. Lotte's Lee Dae-ho had a solid effort in a losing effort. The chubby 3rd baseman went 2-4 with a homer, 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored.

Saturday's game was your typical Korean grindfest. I can't believe Lotte only used 3 pitchers. The Heroes used 6. The statline of the day goes to Heroes 1st baseman Lee Sung-yong. He finished 4-4 with 2 doubles, 6(!) RBIs and 2 runs scored. Lotte 1st baseman Kim Joo-chan and DH Hong Seong-heun both drove in 3 RBIs. This game was just ugly on all fronts. If this was a game I chose to show to someone to introduce them to the KBO I'd fully expect them to never watch another game. Moving on...

The difference on Sunday was the bullpens. The Heroes bullpen kept the Giants off the scoreboard and kept the Heroes in the game. The Lotte bullpen completely imploded and let the game get out of hand. The Heroes bullpen turned in 4 shutout inning with only 2 basehits allowed. Heroes right fielder and #9 hitter Kang Jeong-ho enjoyed a solid day. Kang went 2-4 with homer, 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored. His 2-run bomb in the 4th inning was the difference on the scoreboard. Lotte DH Hong Seong-heun went 3-4 with a double, a homer, 2 RBIs and 1 run scored in a losing effort.

Hanhwa vs. Doosan

5/29 - Doosan 3, Hanhwa 1
5/30 - Doosan 8, Hanhwa 7
5/31 - Doosan 2, Hanhwa 0

Doosan tagged Hanhwa ace Ryu Hyeon-jin for 3 runs in the first inning and that was all they got and needed. Ryu settled down and stuck around for 7 innings(114 pitches, 74 strikes), but he didn't get any support from the Hanhwa offense. Ryu allowed 10 hits and 0 walks, but he only struck out 1 batter. Alarm bells aren't ringing, but they should be tested to make sure the batteries are fresh. Doosan starter Hong Sang-sam looked sharp during his 6 innings(77 pitches, 49 strikes) of work. He allowed only 1 run on 3 hits and 1 walk while striking out 3. Nothing remotely exciting happened at the plate for either team. Victor Diaz hit the only extra base hit(a double in the 4th) and he didn't drive in a run or score. Diaz finished 2-4 with 2 K's.

Juan Cedeno made his first start for Doosan on Saturday and it was completely forgettable. He lasted only 3 2/3 innings(68 pitches, 35 strikes) and surrendered 2 runs. He allowed 6 hits and 3 walks. Cedeno only struck out 1 batter. I'd like to say the Doosan bullpen locked the game down and the Bears cruised to an easy win, but I'd be lying. The fact that Hanhwa's pitching was worse than Cedeno was the only thing that saved Doosan from a loss. Doosan 3rd baseman Kim Dong-joo and shortsto Son Si-hyeon drove in 3 runs each. Kim finished the game 3-5 with a 1 run scored and a stolen base(how?), while Son ended up going 2-5 with a homer and a run scored.

Both teams recieved solid efforts from the pitching staffs on Sunday, but Doosan was a little better. Doosan starter Kim Sang-hyeon tossed 7 innings(85 pitches, 54 strikes) of shutout baseball. He allowed 5 hits, 1 walk and 1 hit batsman while striking out 1. Reliever Lim Tae-hoon worked the last two innings to record the save. Lim allowed one hit and stuck out one batter. Hanhwa starter Yoo Won-sang was the tough luck loser. Yoo threw 6 innings(85 pitches, 50 strikes) of 2-run baseball. Yoo allowed 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4. Doosan scored its first run in the first inning thanks to an RBI single from Kim Dong-joo after a double from right fielder Yoo Jae-wong. Doosan tacked on an insurance run in the 3rd on a solo homer from Yoo.

Samsung vs. SK

5/29 - Samsung 5, SK 4
5/30 - Samsung 8, SK 3
5/31 - SK 6, Samsung 5

I've really never been prouder of my Samsung Lions than I was this weekend. I was riding an 0-4 losing streak at the ballpark this year heading into Friday night. I got to see my first W in person. The Lions watched a 3-0 lead evaporate in the 7th inning thanks to a 4-run rally off of some of the Lions' bullpen zombies. Actually, it was Kwon Hyeok and I was really surprised he got lit up. He's one of two or three dependable arms the Lions have in the pen. Kwon came in with runners on 1st and 2nd. He gave up a walk and a grand slam. The lead was gone with one swing of the bat. The Lions managed to stage a rally in the bottom of the 8th. With runners on 1st and 3rd with two outs, shortstop Park Jin-man hit a flyball to shallow right field. The 2nd baseman overran the play and missed the ball by about 5 feet. This tied the game and put the go ahead run in scoring position. SK reliever Jeong Dae-hyeon walked two straight batters to give Samsung the lead without having to swing the bat. Oh Seung-hwan tossed a scoreless 9th for the save.

Saturday's game turned into a laffer thanks to a 7-run Samsung rally in the 7th inning. The Wyverns needed 4 relievers to record 3 outs. 10 men came to the plate and 8 recorded base hits. It felt like the line would never stop moving. SK had a large contingent of fans in Daegu this weekend and the looks on their faces were priceless. SK fans appear to be getting more than a little arrogant. Having a solid roster and elite pitching will do that to a fanbase, especially after winning back-to-back championships(or in the Chicago Cubs' fans case, winning one playoff series. Oooooooh!) will do that. At first, they looked surprised. Then disbelief. Then anger. Then, finally, acceptance and they went back to cheering. Samsung starter Ahn Ji-man turned in a solid effort for the first time since last year's playoffs. Ahn tossed 6 innings of 2-run baseball. He allowed 6 hits, 1 walk and 1 hit batsman while striking out 2. Sadly, Ahn didn't figure in the decision. He was pulled before Samsung could take the lead. The kid needed a W, dammit.

6-5 makes Sunday's game sound closer than it really was. Samsung rallied for 4 runs in the 9th inning off of Wyverns Japanese import, Ken Kadokura. Why Kadokura was pitching in a non-save situation, I have no idea. Runelvys Hernandez got the start for Samsung and he looked competent. The big fella(serisously, he must LOVE Korean food) tossed 5 innings of 3 run baseball. He allowed 5 hits and 4 walks while striking out 1. Song Eun-beom turned in a solid effort for the Wyverns on the mound. Song threw 7 1/3 innings of 1-run baseball. He allowed 5 hits and 3 walks while striking out 9. SK left fielder Park Jae-sang had a solid day at the plate. Park finished 3-5 with a homer, a stolen base, 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored.

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