Day 12 of the KBO has come and gone. Make that 9 in a row in the loss column for the SK Wyverns – the NC Dinos defeated them 11-5 making it 6 wins in a row for them. The Doosan Bears beat the Kia Tigers 6-4, putting the Bears in a 3-way tie for 2nd place with the LG Twins and Lotte Giants. Speaking of the Giants – they fell to the Hanwha Eagles 5-4 in 11 innings after the ultra-rare walk off balk!
Miss some of the action from last night? Click on the links below to watch!
Hanwha Eagles 5, Lotte Giants 4
The Hanwha Eagles win in extra inning on a balk-off. #KBO #HanwhaEagles #LotteGiants pic.twitter.com/Lef06BCr5o
— KBO Collections (@kbocollections) May 17, 2020
Let’s take a look at the top performers from the day, brought to you by Liam Casey and Matt Wallach:
Sung-bum Na (DH/RF, NC Dinos): 2-3, HR, RBI, 2 R, 2 BB. The NC Dinos are 10-1 and Na is certainly among those they have to thank for it. The outfielder has been a constant source of production for this squad, tallying 22+ home runs and .300+ averages in 5 of his last 6 seasons (a 23 game 2019 being the outlier). Na is well on his way to matching those numbers again with 4 homers through 11 games, although the batting average has yet to come up to speed.
Jin-Sung Kang (1B, NC Dinos): 1-3, HR, 4 RBI, R, BB. Kang has yet to play more than 45 games in any of his 5 KBO seasons, but so far 2020 has looked promising. In the 3rd inning Kang smacked a go-ahead 3 run homer off of SK’s Seung-geon Baek. In only 8 games Kang has already racked up 3 home runs (tying his career KBO total). It looks like the Dinos are developing yet another weapon in their lineup.
Preston Tucker (RF, Kia Tigers): 1-5, HR, RBI, R. At this point, it’s more remarkable when Tucker doesn’t rack up 4+ hits and/or RBI. Still, Tucker managed to contribute – collecting his 5th homer of the season and 2nd in as many games. Tucker has simply been dismantling KBO pitching with his ludicrous .444/.510/.911 triple slash. After a very impressive KBO debut in 2019, Tucker is now looking like one of the best hitters in the league.
Kyoung-min Hur (3B, Doosan Bears): 4-4, RBI, R, SB. The Bears 3B was locked in today, reaching base on all 4 at bats while knocking in a run, scoring one, and even threw in a swiped bag for good measure. Hur has never been an elite hitter by KBO standards, but his low strikeouts and skill on the basepaths have made him a regular in Doosan’s lineup since 2012.
Baek-ho Kang (1B, KT Wiz): 1-3, HR, 3 RBI, R, BB. At only 20 years old, Kang is already in his 3rd KBO season. He managed to pad the Wiz’s lead in this one, hitting a 6th inning 2 run homer which brought his season total to 5 and delivered the Wiz their 3rd consecutive win. Kang is thriving in the top third of the lineup, and he looks well on his way to surpassing his 29 homer total from his rookie season in 2018.
Gye-beom Park (3B, Samsung Lions): 2-4, RBI. It was a quiet day for the Lions’ bats as they only mustered 2 runs in the blowout loss to the Wiz. In his 4th season in the KBO, Park has only managed to play in 70 total games, 58 of which came in 2019 with pretty underwhelming results (.256/.354/.387). He saw the ball well on Sunday though, slapping an RBI single in the 2nd inning off of former major leaguer Odrisamer Despaigne. Park and the Lions will take on the LG Twins on Tuesday as they look to improve their lackluster 4-8 record.
Keon-chang Seo (2B, Kiwoom Heroes): 3-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, BB. Kiwoom was all over Twins’ pitching on Sunday, and Seo was a…hero in this one. The leadoff man plated 3 runs while scoring 2 of his own and cracking his 2nd homer of the year. Power has never been Seo’s calling card, but excellent on-base ability and stolen base prowess (15+ SB in all but 2 seasons) have made the second baseman an excellent prototypical leadoff hitter.
Jung-hoo Lee (RF, Kiwoom Heroes): 3-5, HR, 2 RBI, R. The 21 year-old Lee may be finding his power stroke, as he’s now hit 3 homers in 12 games after hitting only 6 in each of his last 2 seasons with Kiwoom. The Heroes’ #3 hole hitter has seen his best results at the plate so far in 2020, compiling a .372/.440/.721 clip and knocking in 10 runs in 12 games.
Raul Alcantara (Doosan Bears): 7 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 9 K, 0 BB, 106 pitches. Alcantara was mentioned in yesterday’s recap as part of Sunday’s key matchup against Aaron Brooks and the Kia Tigers. Only one half of this pitching matchup lived up to the hype though, as Alcantara finally turned in a good start on his third try of the season. After giving up three runs and four runs in his first two starts, Alcantara is hopefully starting to right the ship now as he turned in a strong nine strikeout performance today while not allowing a walk and giving up just one run. Alcantara posted a 4.01 ERA in the 2019 season, and hopefully, he can get his ERA back down into that range.
Min-woo Kim (Hanwha Eagles): 7 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 6 K, 3 BB, 98 pitches. In what was the day’s tightest game that required extra innings for the Eagles to win, and featured the walk-off balk shown above, starting pitcher Min-woo Kim pitched a strong seven innings before the Eagles bullpen blew it in the final two innings. This was Kim’s second start of the season after appearing in relief during the first week, and this is now his second-straight great start, as this one follows up the seven shutout inning, eight strikeout gem that he pitched on May 12th. There maybe wasn’t big expectations for the 24-year-old this season, especially after a 6.75 ERA in 2019, but so far, he’s been an extremely pleasant surprise for the Eagles, as he shut down one of the league’s top offenses in the Lotte Giants.
Eric Jokisch (Kiwoom Heroes): 6 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 3 K, 1 BB, 72 pitches. Jokisch, the one-time Chicago Cub and a longtime minor leaguer continues his run of strong performances in the KBO, this time throwing six shutout innings in the Heroes victory. For Jokisch, that’s three starts, and seventeen innings and just one earned run. Jokisch appears to have settled in nicely to Korean baseball, as this is his second season abroad and he had an extremely strong 3.13 ERA in 2019. Jokisch can perhaps be considered the Heroes’ MVP in the early part of the season, and I’m interested to see if he can keep it going, and I wonder if they’ll start to increase his workload, as thus far in three starts, the maximum amount of pitches he has thrown has been just 83. I wonder this because the Heroes’ bullpen gave up three runs after Jokisch’s departure, which ultimately made the game closer than it probably ought to have been.
Odrisamer Despaigne (KT Wiz): 6 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 H, 4 K, 1 BB, 98 pitches. Another former Major Leaguer with one of the best performances of the day. Despaigne had relatively little trouble against a weak Samsung Lions lineup, giving up two runs, although one was unearned, it was a relatively easy victory for the KT Wiz, as they put up six runs of support in the first three innings and never really looked back. For Despaigne, this is his first season in the KBO, and thus far, it’s been two good starts out of three for the 33-year-old right-hander, as he earns his first KBO victory, as the Wiz have now won three in a row as they look to move out of the bottom half of the league standings.
Tuesday’s Key Matchup
Drew Rucinski (NC Dinos) vs. Young-ha Lee (Doosan Bears): Monday is the common off day in the KBO, so we have to wait until Tuesday for some more baseball, but this week’s set of games opens with what should be a fun series between the NC Dinos and the Doosan Bears. The Dinos have been on fire lately, winning six straight and nine of their last ten as they have surged into first place with a 10-1 record. The Bears have also been hot, winning seven of their last ten, and they are, of course, the reigning KBO champions, so they’ll definitely want to perform well against the Dinos and remind them that they are the champions for a reason. We also should get a pretty good pitching matchup, and while the Dinos’ Rucinski got a little roughed up in his previous start, he was extremely good in his first start of the season and was good overall in his first season in the KBO, with a 3.05 ERA a season ago. He’ll be opposed by 22-year-old Young-ha Lee, who has a 2.38 ERA through two starts thus far in the 2020 season, and in his last start on May 13th, held the Lotte Giants to just two runs in five innings, although he did allow six walks. He’ll hope to have a performance more in line with his first start against the LG Twins, where he allowed just one earned run in 6.1 innings, this time with just two walks allowed. It should be a fun matchup against two of the league’s top teams, and a good way to start the week.
— Matt Wallach
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)