Saturday’s KBO matchups brought us the works — dingers from stars like Kiwoom’s Lee Jung-hoo, pitching dominance from Lotte’s Adrian Sampson, steals scattered through almost every game, and hitters spitting on offerings to work walks. You name it and you’ll see it in this morning’s games. Kiwoom and Kia each won their fourth in a row and gained a game on the league-leading Dinos, who have dropped four of their last ten. We also had our wayward Hanwha Eagles collect their tenth win of the year.
Miss some of the action from last night? Click on the links below to watch!
Kiwoom Heroes: 9, SK Wyverns: 3
Kia Tigers: 6, Samsung Lions: 3
Let’s take a look at the top performers from the day, brought to you by Tim Jackson and Jai Correa.
Kim Tae-kyun (1B, Hanwha Eagles): 2-4, 2B, RBI. Hanwha’s win was certainly a collective effort — their nine hits were spread by six hitters, and none of them plated more than a single RBI. Kim’s two hits raised his average to .231 and the double was his fifth. It also came in the first inning, helping to set the pace early for the Eagles.
Na Sung-bum (DH/RF, NC Dinos): 1-4, HR, R, RBI. The Dinos registered eight hits from eight different batters. Na’s was the only one that went for extra bases and came as a spirited ploy for NC to get back in the game in the eighth inning. His home run was his 12th tater of the year and 25th extra-base hit. His OPS continues to flirt with that gaudy 1.000 number.
Son Ah-seop (RF, Lotte Giants): 3-5, 2B, R, RBI. Son continues to be an on-base machine for the Giants. His three hits raised his average on the year to .352 and, while he didn’t register a walk on Saturday, he still has more free passes (24) than strikeouts (14) this year. The 32-year-old has been a premier table-setter.
Dixon Machado (SS, Lotte Giants): 3-4, 2B, R, RBI, BB. This is Machado’s third appearance in this space in this space since Tuesday. After starting off the year white-hot and then becoming so ice-cold he occupied the nine-hole in the lineup, he’s officially heating up again. He’s got at least two hits in four of his last five games and last night’s double help sparked the five-run seventh inning for the Giants, as it plated two of his three RBI. His season has been a rollercoaster, so enjoy the suspense of the rise now before the drop potentially makes you yak.
Kuk Hae-sung (LF, Doosan Bears): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. Kuk has played parts of seven KBO seasons and never registered more than 58 games in any of them. In the last two-plus seasons, he’s only gotten into 43 games, so Saturday’s performance was certainly one to write home about. His second-inning homer was his first since 2017. His ninth-inning double came in a pour-it-on half that saw Doosan add another five runs. He did all of this from the eight-hole. Tip your hat to the man, everybody.
Park Se-hyuk (C, Doosan Beatrs): 2-4, 2B, 3B, 2 R, 4 RBI. Where’s the beef, you ask? In Park Se-hyuk’s line last night. The double and triple were just his sixth and seventh extra-base hits for the year, despite seeing the lion’s share of the time behind the dish. The triple in the ninth cleared the bases. Seriously, this kind of line from a catcher is why everyone needs to watch the KBO.
Oh Ji-hwan (SS, LG Twins): 2-4, 2B, RBI, SB. Hardly known for being an elite batsman, the veteran shortstop strung together a zesty line in a low-watt effort from the Twins last night. His stolen base also gives us some insight into bag-swiping in the KBO. His steal last night was his eighth, putting him just one behind league-leader Seo Keon-chang of Kiwoom. He’s only been caught once.
Lee Jung-hoo (RF, Kiwoom Heroes): 3-5, HR, R, 4 RBI. Hoo, baby. Last week I serenaded you with Enrique Iglesias as I relayed to you the star’s greatness. On Wednesday, Scott Chu told you how the 21-year-old is the youngest player on the league OPS leaderboard after he went 4-for-4. Today, I’m telling you he’s #51 in your programs but #1 in your heart. His eighth-inning dinger was a three-run shot that acted as the nail in the coffin, helping Kiwoom to their third straight win and sixth in their last 10 games.
Kim Ha-seong (SS, Kiwoom Heroes): 2-3, 3B, HR, 4 R, RBI, 2 BB. It’s been a bit of a down year for the shortstop but Kim came up big in Saturday’s contest. He ended up scoring every time he came up to bat. The triple was his first of the year. The two walks showcased his excellent plate discipline, too. For the year, he has 28 walks to just 22 strikeouts. He and Lee Jung-hoo proved hit back-to-back in the lineup this morning and proved to be relentless forces for Kiwoom.
Yoo Min-sang (1B, Kia Tigers): 2-4, HR, R, 5 RBI. Yoo came up to bat with the bases loaded in the second inning and effectively ended the game with a grand slam. The salami put the Tigers ahead and they never looked back. It was just the fifth extra-base hit of the year for the first baseman but he made it count. Yoo’s power has taken a slight step back in 2020 but he’s on pace for career highs in batting average and on-base percentage.
Kim Sang-su (2B, Samsung Lions): 3-5, 2B, R, SB. The 30-year-old is having a career year, having come into Saturday slashing .323/.439/.392. You might think you’d like to see some more power but if the slugging percentage stands it’ll be Kim’s highest since 2015. His steal helped him score in the first inning while his double later on became his 10th of the season. If he keeps swinging the stick as he has so far, he could also end 2020 with a career-high in doubles.
Adrian Sampson (Lotte Giants): 6 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 7 K, 2 BB. Sampson entered this start with a 7.78 ERA and 1.88 WHIP this season. With a respectable Wiz offense on the other side, one would think this wouldn’t end well. Of course in baseball, anything is possible. Sampson spun a web across his six scoreless innings with his slider, using it to put away five of the seven batters he struck out. This one start has changed his season outlook drastically as Sampson currently stands with a 5.96 ERA and 1.64 WHIP.
Adrian Sampson had it all working today:
6 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 7 K pic.twitter.com/2DbjaghAoN
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) June 20, 2020
Warwick Saupold (Hanwha Eagles): 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 7 K, 0 BB. After keeping the best offense in the KBO to one run into the seventh inning, I think we can say that Warwick Saupold is back. Tunneling his fastball and curveball effectively, Saupold was also able to attain a season-high in strikeouts, blowing past the previous mark of five. Overcome a rough six-start skid, allowing 23 earned runs in 37 innings, Saupold has taken his ERA down to 3.39 on the year.
Park Jong-gi (Doosan Bears): 6 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 3 K, 0 BB. In his first start of the season, Park only made it into the fifth inning against a weak Hanwha offense – the likelihood of success going forward seemed minimal. Though in his next turn through the rotation, Park found his radar and outdueled adversary Casey Kelly as he kept the Twins scoreless over six innings. Park used eight groundouts, six flyouts, and three strikeouts to keep the Bears at bay – a diverse point of attack. If Park gets another outing, he’ll do so with a 2.53 ERA and 0.84 WHIP.
Casey Kelly (LG Twins): 7 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 7 K, 1 BB. Kelly has been highly inconsistent this season – in seven starts, he’s allowed one or fewer earned runs in three of them, with the other four resulting in four or more earned runs. However, Kelly found a happy medium in this one, giving up three runs over seven innings. While Kelly was able to whiff his second-highest number of batters this season, he also relinquished a home run for a fourth straight start. Obviously, Kelly will need to keep the ball in the yard to achieve success.
Sunday’s Key Matchup
Raul Alcantara (Doosan Bears) vs Lee Min-ho (LG Twins): There’s another matchup worth considering here between the Wyverns’ Ricardo Pinto and the Heroes’ Eric Jokisch, but the Bears and Twins should have a better duel. Raul Alcantara will take the ball for the Bears, looking to build on his current hot streak, allowing only four earned runs in his last 13 innings. On the other side, Lee Min-ho has been a revelation for the Twins. After starting the season in the bullpen, Lee has made his past three appearances as a starter with a 1.40 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. With seven strikeouts in each of his past two outings, Lee will try and whiff more than Alcantara, seventh-ranked on the strikeouts leaderboard, tomorrow.
— Jai Correa
-graphic by Justin Paradis