The NC Dinos shutout the Doosan Bears for their 32nd win of the year. The KT Wiz managed to crush the Eagles’ hopes of a comeback in their 8-4 victory. The LG Twins shutout the lowly SK Wyverns, and the Lotte Giants defeated the Samsung Lions as the two teams are neck and neck in the standings with the final playoff spot within reach.
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Hwang Jae-gyun (3B, KT Wiz) 3-5, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R. The Wiz scored all the runs they’d need in the 1st inning, but thanks to Hwang there would be no chance of the lowly Eagles mounting a comeback on Sunday. After a 5 run 1st, the Eagles were chipping away at the Wiz’s lead. And then Hwang came to bat in the 7th. With 2 men on, Hwang roped one over the left field wall to make it 8-3 Wiz. The veteran third baseman has had an excellent KBO career to date and it looks like 2020 will be no different for him.
Song Kwang-min (3B, Hanwha Eagles) 1-3, HR, 2 RBI, R. Despite Song’s best efforts, the Eagles still managed to once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. After the 5 run hit parade in the 1st for KT, Song managed to smack a 2 run, 375 foot homer to left field in an attempt to keep his team in the game. The 37 year old has spent all of his 13 seasons with the Eagles, and despite a marked decline over the last 2 years it’s clear the vet still has something left in the tank for Hanwha.
Kim Hyun-soo (LF, LG Twins) 2-4, HR, 3 RBI, R. The Twins got to the Wyverns early in this one, scoring a quick 2 runs in the 1st before adding 2 more in the eventual 4-0 shutout victory. Those 2 early runs came courtesy of a dinger off the bat of Kim Hyun-soo (that would have been a 3 run shot had it not been for Lee Chun-woong getting caught stealing). The Twins have faltered a bit recently (3-7 in their last 10) but are still in line for a playoff spot at the #4 seed.
Kwon Hee-dong (LF, NC Dinos) 1-4, HR, 3 RBI, R, BB. It just wouldn’t be a hitter recap without a Dino or 2, would it? Kwon led the Dinos to their 32nd victory on Sunday, cranking his 7th homer of the year off of former MLB reliever Chris Flexen. The 29 year old has been building a career year at the plate, slashing .327/.443/.523 and a career best 14.2 BB%.
Aaron Altherr (CF, NC Dinos) 2-4, HR, RBI, R. Make that 12 homers for the ex-Phillie. Altherr has been locked in at the plate in his rookie KBO season, and is now amongst the top 5 in home runs in the league. There’s a lot of reasons that the Dinos are currently steamrolling their way to the Korean Series, and Altherr is most definitely a crucial one.
Son Ah-seop (RF, Lotte Giants) 2-5, HR, 3 RBI, R. The lifelong Giant has enjoyed an absolutely superb career in the KBO, tallying double digit homers and steals in 9 of the last 10 seasons all while maintaining excellent rate stats. On Sunday, he crushed a 425 foot, 2 run shot to center field, while also tacking on a RBI single for good measure. While he may not be on track to obtain the double digit threshold in 2020, Son has still managed to be a stabilizing force for the Giants as they battle for a playoff spot.
Kim Hye-sung (SS, Kiwoom Heroes) 3-4, RBI. There wasn’t a whole lot of scoring in this Heroes/Tigers matchup, but the bat of Kim Hye-sung made all the difference. In the 2nd inning, the Heroes loaded the bases with a small ball masterclass that went: single, sac bunt, single, sac bunt, and a walk. That gave Kim the bases loaded and he delivered with an infield single that scored the game’s decisive run. He even tacked on 2 more infield singles in this one. The fleet footed Kim really looks like he is coming into his own in the top 3rd of the Heroes’ lineup.
— Liam Casey
Choi Won-tae (Kiwoom Heroes): 7 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 6 K, 2 BB. Like Saturday, there were quite a few excellent pitching performances on Sunday. The game between the Kiwoom Heroes and the Kia Tigers was a pitching battle, and we’ll take about the Tigers starter a little later on, but Choi Won-tae ultimately was on the winning end of this pitching duel. Choi came into this start with a 4.18 ERA, a pretty drastic regression from his 2019 mark of 3.38, but this excellent start will surely help to bring that number down closer to where he would like it. This was by the best start of the season for the 23-year-old right-hander, as he had given up two runs or more in all but one of his previous nine starts. Overall, that’s two straight games for the Heroes without allowing a run, as Choi picked up right where Eric Jokisch left off yesterday, and the Heroes have now won nine of their last ten, as they continue to put the pressure on the league-leading NC Dinos.
Lim Chan-gyu (LG Twins): 7 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 8 K, 1 BB. Speaking of picking up right where the previous day’s starter left off, Lim followed up Jung Chan-heon’s complete-game shutout up with seven shutout innings of his own, as the Twins beat the Wyverns, and like Kiwoom, it is now two straight games without allowing a run, and the Twins finish off a rough week strongly. This is maybe the more shocking of Sunday’s three shutout performances, as Lim came into this start with a 4.69 ERA and 1.39 WHIP, and while the strikeout numbers have been there, he’s still been hit pretty hard. However, this is now the second good start in a row from him, as in his last start on June 17th, he gave up just one run in six innings and appears to be trending in the right direction. The 27-year-old is still trying to establish himself for the Twins, as last season he had a 4.97 ERA and 1.47 WHIP and in 2018 he had a 5.77 ERA and 1.65 WHIP. The past two starts have been exactly what he has needed and hopefully, he can keep them coming going forward.
Drew Rucinski (NC Dinos): 7 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 6 K, 2 BB. The third shutout of the day comes courtesy of Drew Rucinski, who won the battle between former Major Leaguers with Chris Flexen on the bump for the opposing Doosan Bears. After the Dinos suffered a bad loss on Saturday, Rucinski took the ball and pretty much gave the Dinos seven stress-free innings. Rucinski continues to pitch well for the Dinos, as he came into this start with a 2.67 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. Although, his previous two starts didn’t quite showcase the best of Rucinski, as he allowed three runs a piece in each of those previous two starts. This was definitely a good bounce-back start for the 31-year-old, and he continues to be one of the most reliable starters in the KBO, as his ERA now drops to 2.29 after this outstanding performance. After the Dinos’ rough week (by their standards), they should still be viewed as the favorites at this point, with their still elite offense and with Rucinski and the sensational Chang-mo Koo leading their pitching staff.
Aaron Brooks (Kia Tigers): 6 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 8 K, 2 BB. You know it was a good day for pitchers when this performance is the final one in the writeup. Aaron Brooks was on the other end of Choi Won-tae’s masterful performance, and despite pitching really well, he ultimately had to take the loss in this one, due to a two-out infield single that pushed a run across in the second inning. Even though he took the loss today, it doesn’t change how well Brooks has pitched in his first season in the KBO. He came into this one with a 2.62 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, with that ERA number now dropping to 2.32, as he has been of the best pitchers in the league to this point. This was the second straight good start for Brooks, as in his last start on June 23rd, he went seven shutout innings against the Lotte Giants. Expect more of the same from Brooks in the future.
Tuesday’s Key Matchup
Bae Je-seong (KT Wiz) vs. Tyler Wilson (LG Twins): Monday is the common off day in the KBO, so instead we will look ahead to Tuesday. Pitcher List will have you covered though, with our weekly recap post that will catch you up on everything you may have missed in the last week of the KBO as well as preview the upcoming week. There aren’t many great pitching matchups projected for Tuesday, but the most intriguing one comes from this matchup against the Wiz and the Twins. Bae Je-seong has been a little hit-or-miss thus far in the season. Coming into this start with a 3.91 ERA, he’s had four great starts where he allowed zero or one run, with a few stinkers in there that have driven his ERA up, but for the most part, he’s been solid. On the other end, Tyler Wilson needs to start performing better. He’s coming into this start with a 4.47 ERA, a far cry from his 2.92 mark a season ago. He’s coming into this one having given up four runs in his last start. The Twins have an opportunity to move up the standings with a good week, and it all starts with a good start from Wilson.
— Matt Wallach
-graphic by Justin Paradis