KIA 3, SK 0
W - Aquilino Lopez, L - Ken Kadokura
KIA leads the series, 3-2
Aquilino put the Tigers on his shoulders last night. He did get a little help from the SK offense. I saw at least a dozen swings at pitches at or above batters' necks. Lopez threw a complete game, 4-hit shutout. 72 of his 106 pitches went for strikes. Lopez walked 2 and hit 1 batter while striking out 6. There was also one legit "chill" moment last night. At the end of the game, every single one of Lopez' teammates stopped to shake his hand. At the end of the line was the KIA pitching coach. The pitching coach gave Lopez a big handshake/hug. It was obvious that Lopez really appreciated being appreciated by his teammates.
SK veteran Ken Kadokura pitched well enough. Kadokura tossed 5 1/3 innings(82 pitches, 54 strikes) and was charged with 2 runs. Kadokura gave up 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 3.
KIA broke a scoreless tie in the 3rd inning thanks to an awkwardly executed suicide squeeze. With runners on the corners and one out, center fielder Lee Yong-gyu got a bunt down the third base line. The runner from 3rd left the base while the pitch was being thrown. SK had no play at the home, but they were able to nail Lee at first. The play was awkward because the pitch from Kadokura was way inside. Lee had to practically throw the bat at it to get it down.
KIA picked up a few more insurance runs in the 6th inning, but the rally wasn't without controversy. Lee Yong-gyu lead off the inning with a single to left. Lee was moved over to 2nd on a sac bunt from DH Na Ji-won(only in Asia does the DH bunt). Kadokura was replaced by lefty reliever Jeong Woo-ram. The next batter, 1st baseman Choi Hee-seop, poked a single through the right side for a base hit. Lee was able to score and gave KIA a 2-0 lead.
After Lee scored, things got a little strange. Jeong was replaced by righty Yoon Kil-hyeon. Yoon gave up a base hit to KIA 3rd baseman Kim Sang-hyeon. With runners on 1st and 2nd with one out, KIA catcher Kim Sang-hoon hit a broken bat grounder to 2nd. 2nd baseman Jeong Geun-woo threw to 2nd to force Kim Sang-hyeon. SK shortstop Na Ju-hwan was forced wide of the bag by Kim Sang-hyeon's slide. Na threw the ball almost directly into the ground. The ball bounced well wide of the 1st baseman and Choi was able to score while Kim Sang-hoon raced to 2nd. This call brought SK manager Kim Seong-geun out of the dugout.
I believe Kim was arguing that Kim Sang-hyeon interfered with the shortstop and the runners should go back to 1st and 3rd. Either way, Manager Kim went way overboard. First, he got into it with the umpires. To his credit, the crew chief gave as good as he got. When Kim started to lose it, the ump gave as good as he got. After the umpire refused to give the baby his bottle, Kim ordered his team off the field and made everyone wait for a few minutes while the umpires pleaded with him to let the game continue. It was one of the most childish and least sportsmanlike acts I have ever seen in the KBO. I really think that the success of winning back-to-back titles has gone to Kim's head. His arrogance will be his undoing. Eventually, Kim allowed his players to return to the field and continue the game. The next out was quickly recorded and the inning ended.
The series continues Friday night at 6 PM in Seoul. This will be a rematch of the starters from game 2. Song Eun-beom will try to avoid elimination, while Yoon Seok-min will try to help the Tigers win the series.