Korean slugger sets world record

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Korean slugger sets world record

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Lotte Giants’ Lee Dae-ho. [YONHAP]

There is no sign of Lotte Giants slugger Lee Dae-ho slowing down any time soon. In fact, with 28 games remaining in the Korea Baseball Organization’s regular season, and with his team holding onto a slim fourth-place lead over the Kia Tigers, Lee is on top of his game.

Lee set a new world record on Saturday night by hitting home runs in nine consecutive games.

Lee helped his team to a 10-2 win over the Kia Tigers with a three-run homer in the top of the second inning. Lee surpassed the record held by Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly and Dale Long of MLB for hitting home runs in eight consecutive games.

Sadaharu Oh and Randy Bass are tied for the Nippon Professional Baseball record for hitting homers in seven consecutive games.

“Since Ken Griffey Jr. hit home runs in eight consecutive games, I didn’t think it would be possible for another player to break the record,” said Giants manager Jerry Royster in an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo. “Many Major League managers and scouts have taken notice of Lee.”

Lee’s previous single season best was 29 home runs in the 2007 season. The third baseman also won the triple crown in 2006 by topping the league in batting average, home runs and RBI. However, Lee has been on a tear this season. He leads the league with 38 home runs and also tops the league with a batting average of .368. He trails his teammate Hong Sung-heun with 111 RBI and 83 runs scored.

Lee is on pace to hit at least 10 more home runs, for a total of 50 home runs this season. If Lee achieves that feat, it would be the first time a player hit more than 40 home runs in a KBO season since Lee Seung-yeop swatted 56 and Shim Jung-soo hit 53 homers during the 2003 season.

“I have to battle myself from this point on,” said Lee. “If I try my best, I will produce but with Hong Sung-heun batting a spot ahead of me, I expect good results.

“It’s important for a hitter to possess both confidence and greed at the plate. I’m hitting well at this point so I’ll try not to pressure myself too much.”

Lee and Hong have provided crucial hits for the Giants, who held a record of 50 wins, three ties and 52 losses through Saturday.

With the regular season coming to the final stretch, the Giants currently hold a narrow lead over the defending champions Kia Tigers who hold a record of 47 wins and 58 losses for the fourth and final spot in the post season.

The Lotte Giants and Lee closed off their three game series with the Kia Tigers last night in Gwangju and will take on the SK Wyverns in Incheon starting tomorrow. SK is the only club that has not allowed a homer against Lee so far this season.

By Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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