Friday morning’s KBO action saw four competitive games and one absolute thrashing. The Doosan Bears, Lotte Giants, Kiwoom Heroes, and SK Wyverns all won by 4 runs or less in relatively lower-scoring affairs. Meanwhile, the NC Dinos followed up an 11-0 beatdown of the Hanwha Eagles with a 13-2 win on Friday, as the Eagles lost their 12th consecutive game. On the other end, the Dinos added a game to their lead in the standings over the 2nd place
Miss some of the action from last night? Click on the links below to watch!
Doosan Bears: 5, Kia Tigers: 1
SK Wyverns: 4, Samsung Lions: 1
NC Dinos: 13, Hanwha Eagles: 2
Let’s take a look at the top performers from the day, brought to you by Nick Bucher and Jai Correa.
Na Sung-bum (DH/OF, NC Dinos): 3-5, 2 HR, 2B, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB. Na was an absolute monster on Friday, pacing the Dinos high-scoring offense with a pair of home runs while driving in four runs. In his first at-bat, Na took a pitch from Jang Shi-hwan and launched a pitch 375 feet. That dinger gave the Dinos a 2-0 lead they would never relinquish, and the 30-year-old lefty is enjoying an excellent 2020 season, OPS-ing well over 1.000.
Park Min-woo (2B, NC Dinos): 3-5, 2B, R, RBI, SB. A number of other Dinos had big performances, but Park’s three hits earned him a spot in the column. He joined his teammate Na by being involved early and often, scoring a run, and driving in a run himself. The man at the keystone for the Dinos chipped in a stolen base as well and has been a constant force at the top of the order for NC.
Choi Jin-Haeng (OF, Hanwha Eagles): 1-1, HR, R, 2 RBI. The Eagles only managed to score two runs in this one, and Choi made them both happen in his lone plate appearance. In the 9th inning, Choi was summoned from the bench to hit as the Eagles looked to avoid a shutout, and hit a two-run homer that helped Hanwha avoid being shut out. Hanwha has had a brutal time the past couple weeks, but maybe Choi’s jolt of energy at the end of this one will help them turn it around.
Lee Dae-ho (DH/1B): 1-3, HR, 3 RBI, BB. Lotte got into the win column Friday morning, and Lee was one of the driving forces for the Giants against the Wiz. With Lotte trailing by a run, Lee came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh with two runners on base. Lee promptly delivered a clutch three-run tater, and it was the difference in this one.
Roberto Ramos (1B, LG Twins): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. Ramos did all he could to try to help the Twins win on Friday, and while LG ultimately came up short, the first basemen’s two home runs deserve mention. Ramos is among the league leaders in a number of offensive categories including homers and OPS, and has been instrumental in LG’s success so far this season, as they continue to hold the second-place spot in the standings.
Kim Ha-seong (SS, Kiwoom Heroes): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB, SB. The shortstop for the Heroes stuffed the stat sheet Friday and was a driving force in the team’s 6-3 win. Kim singled and stole a base in his first at-bat before scoring a run, and then just one inning later hit a three-run homer. Kim has been enjoying an excellent season and has been especially hot lately, racking up multiple hits in each of his last three games.
Park Hae-min (OF, Samsung Lions): 3-4, 2B, RBI. Park’s team wasn’t able to win, but the outfielder did everything he could at the plate. With three hits, including a double, Park powered the offense from the six-hole in the lineup. This was a welcome sight for the Lions, as Park was playing for the first time since 5/22 and appeared to have no rust.
Mike Wright (NC Dinos): 6 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 4 BB, 7 K: Wright wasn’t great in his first month in the KBO, but a 3.21 ERA shows there still is upside for the Dinos right-hander. That upside was tapped into as the Dinos routed the Eagles for an easy victory. Four of his six innings were of the three up three down variety, while Wright also tied the highest number of strikeouts he’s had in any of his outings this season at seven. Hopefully, this propels Wright into a string of great outings.
Lee Young-ha (Doosan Bears): 6 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 4 BB, 7 K: In 28 innings prior to this start, Lee had a 5.14 ERA, giving up 32 hits, and yielding more free passes (19) than strikeouts (17). Contrary to the norm, Lee was able to silence the Tigers’ bats for six scoreless innings. He was able to register more strikeouts than walks, yielding only two hits, all while allowing only an unearned run. Registering his second win of the season, the first since his season debut, Lee will look to string together a bevy of good outings like this one.
Choi Won-tae (Kiwoom Heroes): 7 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 4 K. As a result of a superb effort from Choi, the Heroes were able to cut into the deficit for second place in the standings behind the Twins and Bears. The Heroes’ young right-hander relinquished a two-run homer to KBO home run leader Roberto Ramos, the only blemish on the outing. After having a rocky start to the season, Choi has now only allowed five earned runs over his last 19 innings pitched with 12 strikeouts and no walks.
Ricardo Pinto (SK Wyverns): 6 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 5 K. Well, well. Pinto completely disregarded my analysis from last week and proved me wrong – good for him. In a similar story to his last start, Pinto allowed more runners on base than innings pitched, however, he was again able to limit the opposition for a second consecutive win. While he’s only given up five earned runs in his last 19 innings, Pinto has also ceded 22 hits and eight walks with only 14 strikeouts – something’s going to give in his next few starts.
Saturday’s Key Matchup
Drew Gagnon (Kia Tigers) vs Chris Flexen (Doosan Bears): Koo Chang-mo pitches for the Dinos so make sure to watch that, but the best matchup of the night belongs to the Tigers and Bears. Gagnon gets the ball for the Tigers, looking to bounce back from his poor performance last time out, giving up five earned runs over four innings. For the Bears, Flexen will try to improve upon his last performance, five innings against the Giants, and pitch deeper into the game. Both pitchers are nearly in the top ten in the league for strikeouts – Flexen is 11th – while the two are also in the top 20 for ERA. This should be a dynamite matchup as only 2.5 games separate the Bears and Tigers for the second spot in the standings.
— Jai Correa