With one day left in the first half of the 2023 professional baseball race, mid- to low-ranking teams are making strides in unison, raising interest in the second half of the race to be held after the All-Star Game.
The first-place LG Twins (49 wins, 2 draws, 30 losses, 0.620) and the second-place SSG Landers (46 wins, 1 draw, 32 losses, 0.590) both lost two consecutive games, allowing the Doosan Bears (42 wins, 1 draw, 36 losses, 0.538), who won nine consecutive games.
The sixth-ranked KIA Tigers (36 wins, 1 draw, 38 losses, 0.486) also won six consecutive games, chasing the fourth-ranked NC Dinos (38 wins, 1 draw, 38 losses, 0.500) and the Lotte Giants (38 wins, 38 losses, 0.500) by one game.
KT Wiz (36 wins, 2 draws, 41 losses, 0.468) in seventh place and Hanwha Eagles (34 wins, 4 draws, 40 losses, 0.459), which rose back to eighth place, are raising hopes by 2.5 to 3 games difference.
Kiwoom Heroes (38 wins, 2 draws, 꽁머니지급 45 losses, 0.458), who lost six consecutive games, fell to ninth place, while 10th-ranked Samsung Lions (30 wins, 49 losses, 0.380) is far from the bottom.
■ Doosan Park Joon-young’s come-from-behind two-run double…Waddell allowed one run in six innings and won two games
Doosan defeated SSG 4-1 in a 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League visit game at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on the 12th.
The gap between third-place Doosan and second-place SSG, which won all nine games in July, has narrowed to four games.
Doosan’s recent winning streak is the longest since 10 consecutive wins on June 6-16, 2018.
Doosan, which was hit by Choo Shin-soo in the bottom of the first inning, was blocked by SSG starter Kim Kwang-hyun and dragged 0-1 by throwing a chance with two double plays.
Then in the seventh inning, he beat SSG’s second pitcher Moon Seung-won to turn the tide.
Kang Seung-ho and Jang Seung-hyun beat Moon Seung-won, who came up without a runner with one out, with consecutive right-handed hits to open a chance to first and third base.
Immediately, Cho Soo-haeng, a runner on first base, stole the second base and blew two runners to score.
Three days ago, Park Joon-young, who led the eight-game winning streak with three hits and three RBIs, including one home run, hit a come-from-behind two-run double falling next to the left fielder in a golden opportunity.
Yang Eui-ji of the Doosan Bears came out as the leadoff hitter in the top of the eighth inning and drew a 125m-long solo arch that easily crossed the left wall, widening the gap to two points. Doosan earned one run for nothing on SSG’s consecutive errors in the ninth inning.
Doosan left-hander Brandon Waddell, who endured six innings with one run, won his second win (one loss) thanks to the timely hit of the batters, while Kim Kwang-hyun pitched six innings without losing a point, but won.
Doosan closer Hong Kun-hee, who is in his 13th year as a professional, achieved 20 saves for the first time.
■ KIA Jung Hae-young made a super save with a grounder to second base with two outs and a full base in the top of the ninth inning
KIA won a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Samsung Lions in Gwangju’s home turf and won all six games against Samsung this year.
When KIA scored one run first with Park Chan-ho’s thunderous left-handed home run in the third inning, Samsung turned 2-1 in the fourth inning thanks to a grounder and Kang Han-ul’s timely hit in the second and third bases with no outs and Jose Pirella’s left-handed double.
KIA regained control in the bottom of the fifth inning, taking advantage of Samsung’s mistake.
Samsung starter Won Tae-in, who caught Choi Won-joon’s ground ball at first and second bases with one out, threw the ball to second base, but shortstop Lee Jae-hyun, who entered the base, missed it. It was recorded as Won Tae-in’s painful throwing error.
In the meantime, second baseman Kim Tae-gun scored and KIA tied the score 2-2, and Choi Hyung-woo’s push-back hit the ball with two outs and a full base came out, leading KIA to turn the game around 3-2.
KIA Jung Hae-young, who came up with two outs and a full base in the top of the ninth inning, kept the victory by one point with a super save that cooked Kim Dong-jin with a grounder to second base.
KIA left-hander Thomas Panoni, who returned after a year, allowed two runs in four innings in his return match, and rookie Yoon Young-chul, who pitched in the fifth inning and played 1⅔ innings without losing a point, harvested his fifth win (4 losses).
■ Hanwha, Moon Dong-joo leap to 8th place with 108 pitches in a game
The Hanwha Eagles won a thrilling 2-1 victory over the leading LG Twins at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul with starter Moon Dong-joo’s brilliant all-out pitching and rookie Moon Hyun-bin’s two-run double in the final.
In his last appearance in the first half, Moon Dong-joo recorded his sixth win (6 losses) with outstanding pitching of 5 hits, 5 strikeouts, and 1 run in 7⅓ innings, setting a new record of the most pitches (108) in a game.
Moon Hyun-bin beat LG starter Casey Kelly with a double that fell to the first prize in the top of the first inning with two outs and runners on first and second bases, sending both runners home.
The winner was in the bottom of the eighth inning.
After one out, Moon Dong-joo allowed Moon Bo-kyung a right-center double, Park Hae-min a walk, and Shin Min-jae a rip-off hit after shortstop, handing over the baton to Kim Bum-soo with the bases loaded,
Kim Bum-soo caught Hong Chang-ki’s infield grounder and traded one point for an out count.
Moon Dong-joo, who was in the dugout, clapped his hands enthusiastically when Kim Bum-soo caught Kim Hyun-soo with a grounder to second base with two outs and a full base hit by allowing Moon Sung-joo to walk again.
■ Kiwoom’s 6th consecutive loss despite triple-year-old defense…He fell down two steps to ninth place
At Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, KT Wiz beat Kiwoom Heroes 4-3.
Kt climbed one notch to seventh place, and Kiwoom, which fell into a six-game losing streak, sank two steps to ninth place.
In the first inning, KT led 2-0 with Park Byung-ho’s sacrifice fly and Jang Sung-woo’s ground ball.
Kiwoom recovered one run with Kim Hye-sung’s heavy timely hit in the bottom of the third inning with one out and runners on first and second base, and turned the game around 3-2, combining Lim Ji-yeol’s left-handed hit and Kim Woong-bin’s sacrifice fly with Lee Jung-hoo’s intentional walk.
In the fifth and sixth innings, KT succeeded in reversing with two sacrifice flies by Park Byung-ho and Kim Min-hyuk.
Kiwoom suffered a bitter taste in the bottom of the ninth inning without taking advantage of a two-out full base chance.
Meanwhile, Kiwoom shortstop Shin Joon-woo caught KT Kang Baek-ho’s fly ball in the top of the third inning with no outs and runners on first and second bases, quickly stepped on second base, and even caught the first baseman who failed to return to base to complete his first and 81st triple defense this season.
■ 16 hits, 11 points, including 3 NC home runs…4th place with Lotte again
The NC Dinos, which had been struggling with the absence of a troubleshooter, hit 16 hits, including three home runs, at Changwon’s home turf, beating the Lotte Giants 11-2, and won a hot victory for the first time in a long time.
NC tied for fourth with Lotte
Kwon Hee-dong drew a solo arch on the left wall in the third round of the final round of 1-1, followed by a two-run shot on the left wall running 9-1 in the eighth inning.
Son Ah-seop hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning, signaling a great victory while walking on thin ice 2-1.
NC starter Eric Pedi earned his 12th win (two losses) of the season with one run in 6⅓3 innings and became the first winning pitcher against all teams this year.
In particular, Pedi also set a winning pitcher tie record against the club in all the minimum games (15 games) set by Yang Hyun-jong (KIA) in 2017.