The NC Dinos were back in the win column with a 18-7 victory over the Samsung Lions The LG Twins are right on the Dinos’ heels for first place and they furthered their case with a 13-5 win against the Kia Tigers. On the other end of the standings, the SK Wyverns have clawed their way out of the cellar with a 6-4 effort against the Hanwha Eagles, who now hold the unfortunate title of last place with their 7-17 record.
Miss some of the action from last night? Click on the links below to watch!
Jared Hoying (RF, Hanwha Eagles) 2-4, HR, 3 RBI, R. Hoying was the only Eagle bat making noise on Sunday, as his first inning 3-run homer accounted for most of the Hanwha scoring. The former Texas Ranger is off to a bit of a slow start in 2020, but in his two full KBO seasons he’s been a very solid hitter for the Eagles, posting a wRC+ of 126 and 117 in 2018-19.
Lee Heung-ryun (C, SK Wyverns) 1-4, HR, RBI, R. Lee’s lone hit in this game made all the difference, as his solo shot in the fifth inning was the game deciding run. The catcher has never been a full time player in his 5 seasons between the Lions and Bears, but in his first year with the Wyverns he is looking to make an impression off the bench.
Noh Soo-kwang (LF, SK Wyverns) 2-3, RBI, 2 R, BB, SB. It’s a rare sight to see two Wyverns on the hitter roundup, but Noh Soo-kwang is quite deserving. In 17 games, he’s currently sporting a .348/.400/.500 batting line. He’s been a bright spot in an underperforming lineup, and it’s a refreshing sight after his rather underwhelming 2019 in which hit hit .250/.333/.312.
Mel Rojas Jr. (RF, KT Wiz) 2-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R, BB. Rojas was absolutely ridiculous at the plate on Sunday, cranking a 3 run homer in the first and following it up with a 2-run shot in the 2nd. After 7+ years in the minors for the Pirates and Braves, Rojas has certainly found his groove in Korea. In his 3 seasons, he has posted a wRC+ of 125 or greater each year. Coupled with the power in his bat, the Wiz have a deadly cleanup hitter in Rojas.
Kim Ha-seong (SS, Kiwoom Heroes) 2-5, HR, 5 RBI, R. The Wiz weren’t the only team in his game with a player collecting 5 RBI. The heroes shortstop smacked a 4th inning, 3 run homer and while it was a valiant effort to keep the Heroes in the game, the Wiz scoring machine was simply too much to handle. Kim and the Heroes will match up with the last place Eagles on Tuesday.
Han Seung-taek (C, Kia Tigers) 2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R. Han continued his hot start to 2020, swatting 2 home runs in the 2nd and 9th innings. Although in the end the Tigers were no match for the 13 runs that the Twins put on the board, the Tigers catcher filled out the score sheet nicely in this one.
Oh Ji-hwan (SS, LG Twins) 2-3, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB. Oh got in on the Twins scoring parade early, hitting a 2 run single in the 3rd inning. He followed that up with a failed steal attempt but would still manage to go on and score 2 of his own runs. The Twins are only 2 games back of first place, and they’ll need more days like this one from Oh if they want to overtake the dominant Dinos.
Lee Dae-ho (DH, Lotte Giants) 1-4, 2 RBI, 2 BB. The Sunday that the former Seattle Mariner had wouldn’t jump out at you on paper, but those 2 walks were crucial for the Giants to secure their 5 run 11th inning against the Doosan Bears. With one out in the 11th, Lee exercised his plate discipline and managed to secure a bases-loaded walk. After that, the floodgates opened and the Giants had themselves an 8-3 lead. After a hot start, the Giants are now in the middle of the pack at 11-12.
Kwon Hee-dong (LF/RF, NC Dinos) 5-6, HR, 4 RBI, 4 R. The Dinos laid the smackdown on the Samsung Lions on Sunday, scoring 18 runs thanks in part to the heroics of Kwon Hee-dong. The 29 year old hasn’t been anything of an elite hitter in his 7 KBO seasons, but you wouldn’t know it from how he did at the dish in this one. Couple with fellow outfielder Aaron Altherr, they accounted for 8 RBI and 6 runs scored.
Aaron Altherr (CF, NC Dinos) 3-5, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R. Speaking of Altherr, the former MLB outfielder had himself a day at the plate as well. Altherr started the season scorching hot and was a big part in the early season dominance of the Dinos, but his bat had slowed of late. After Sunday’s performance, it looks like he may be turning things back on. Oh great, another dominant hitter for the Dinos. Just what they needed.
Koo Chang-mo (NC Dinos): 6 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 6 K, 1 BB, 84 pitches. Another Koo Chang-mo start, another superb result. If there was still any doubt over who the league’s best pitcher is, it should be nearly all gone at this point, as Koo shut down the Samsung Lions for six innings, and if you’re keeping track at home, he’s given up just two runs all season. The Dinos were one more loss away from being swept by the Lions, and with them turning to their ace needing a win, their ace did what aces do, and while the Dinos bullpen gave up seven runs in the game’s final three innings to make things a little bit more interesting, the Dinos ultimately got a much-needed win, as their once-dominant gap in the standings has shrunk to just a two-game lead.
Another day, another Koo Chang-mo (구창모) MASTERCLASS 🔥
— taewoongi (태웅) 18-5 (@taewoongii) May 31, 2020
Dan Straily (Lotte Giants): 5 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 5 K, 1 BB, 99 pitches. Thankfully Chang-mo Koo had his masterful performance to salvage the day, as there weren’t many other notable pitching performances today. Straily’s five innings of one-run ball was probably the next best performance of the day, as the Giants landed a victory over the third-place Doosan Bears in eleven innings. Straily continues to pitch well in the KBO, as his ERA drops to 2.70 now through six starts, as the 31-year-old ultimately hopes to make a return to the Majors in the future. In these first six starts of the season for Straily, the strikeout numbers have been there, as he’s averaging close to 10 strikeouts per nine innings, but he’s given up a few too many walks, as he’s allowed three or more free passes in four of his six starts. This one walk performance will hopefully be the new normal for Straily in the future, but overall, Straily’s first month in the KBO has been a successful one.
Chris Flexen (Doosan Bears): 5 IP, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 H, 2 K, 5 BB, 100 pitches. You would be forgiven if you had flashbacks to some random Mets-Marlins game from 2017, as the other half of the Giants-Bears matchup featured another former Major Leaguer in Chris Flexen. In what was supposed to be the pitching matchup of the day, it kind of disappointed as neither pitcher pitched bad, but neither pitched great. For Flexen, two unearned runs were the only damage done against him, but five walks raised his pitch count quickly, getting to just five innings before being pulled with the fate of the game now in the hands of each team’s bullpen, a battle that was ultimately won by the Giants. Like Straily, Flexen’s first month of KBO action has been a successful one for the most part, and has been highlighted thus far by his ten strikeout, eight-inning performance on May 20th against the NC Dinos.
Park Jong-hoon (SK Wyverns): 6 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 H, 3 K, 3 BB, 99 pitches: SK is finally out of the league’s cellar, thanks to their fourth straight victory, as well as the eighth consecutive loss by their opponents, the Hanwha Eagles. Facing an Eagles lineup that has been one of the worst in the league to this point, the 28-year-old Park Jong-hoon was able to take advantage, not with an overly flashy performance, but one that got the job done, with six innings of three-run ball that was enough, as the SK lineup got off to a good start in this one, with the SK bullpen following things up with three shutout innings to ultimately seal the victory. For Park, this was his fifth start of the season, and he’s usually had similar performances to this one. He’s been a dependable pitcher, although not an overwhelming one, but ultimately one that SK should feel comfortable with every five days.
Tuesday’s Key Matchup
Yu Hui-kwan (Doosan Bears) vs. Odrisamer Despaigne (KT Wiz): Monday is the common off day in the KBO, so while there won’t be any games tomorrow, Pitcher List will have a weekly recap to catch you up on everything that happened in the KBO this week and you can read last week’s recap by Scott Chu here. Anyways, for Tuesday, a projected matchup between the Doosan Bears and KT Wiz should feature two good pitchers. For the Wiz, former Major Leaguer Odrisamer Despaigne takes the bump, and he’s been extremely successful in his first month in the KBO, with a 1.69 ERA through five starts and 32 innings. In his last time out, he went eight scoreless against the Kia Tigers, and striking out seven in what his best performance of the season by far. On the opposite end, the defending champions Bears will send out 33-year-old Yu Hui-kwan, who has a 3.27 ERA through four starts and gave the Bears seven innings of one run ball in his last start, while striking out five. More importantly, he is one of the most fun players in the league, and to show that, here’s a Twitter thread from MyKBO’s Dan Kurtz which shows some of the highlights:
Love Yu Hui-kwan (also spelled Hee-kwan)! https://t.co/d87xO1BPxU
— Dan Kurtz (@MyKBO) May 22, 2020
With Yu on the mound, it should be a fun start to the week, at the very least.
— Matt Wallach