All bets on the Wyverns
In the history of the Korean Series, only one team out of 28 has managed to come back from a 2-0 series deficit: the 2007 SK Wyverns.
The team lost its first two games before pulling off four consecutive wins against the Doosan Bears.
Samsung has the home-field advantage in the crucial third game of the series and will start Bae Young-soo on the mound against SK’s Ken Kadokura. The Lions are facing a must-win situation tonight and a lot is expected of Bae.
Bae, who is coming off of a four-day break, will have to do better than he did against the Wyverns during the regular season, when he struggled to the tune of a 0-2 record and 5.82 ERA in three starts.
“We don’t have any room for major changes after game three,” Samsung manager Sun Dong-yeol said at a press conference after game two. “I’ll have my players rest tomorrow and focus on winning one game at a time.”
SK holds a strategic advantage, having won the first two games without Kadokura. The 37-year-old Japanese southpaw, along with ace Kim Kwang-hyun, provided SK with a solid one-two punch in the starting rotation during the regular season. In his second season in the KBO, Kadokura boasted an impressive 14-7 record with a 3.22 ERA, good enough for fourth-most wins in the league.
Kim set a Korean Series record by striking out six consecutive batters in game one, and Lee Seung-ho and four relief pitchers held the Lions to one run in game two. The Wyverns now have their second-best pitcher fresh and ready for game three.
“Some are saying the series can end a lot sooner than expected,” said SK manager Kim Sung-geun after game two. “Wouldn’t it be great if baseball were that simple?
“I’m pleased that we were able to save Kadokura and pull off two wins. Our players are coming off a lengthy break but they looked good in both games. Our pitchers look stronger after getting some time off after the regular season.”
Kadokura fared well against Samsung in the regular season with a 1-1 record and 3.00 ERA in three starts.
In winning the first two games of the series 9-5 and 4-1, respectively, SK did not show any signs of being rusty after a lengthy break in the first two rounds of the series.
Samsung, on the other hand, has reason to be concerned. During the regular season, Samsung’s bullpen was labeled as unbeatable in the late innings and protected its lead after the fifth inning in 53 consecutive games. But the same cast of pitchers has not lived up to expectations. What was once the team’s greatest strength has so far been its biggest letdown in the postseason.
Of the Lions’ relief pitchers, Kwon Hyuk has struggled the most. The lefty has one loss and a 36.00 ERA in five appearances in the postseason. Oh Seung-hwan and Kwon Oh-joon also looked shaky in the first two games.
But not all Lions pitchers have faltered: Jung Hyun-wook and Ahn Ji-man have done well.
Game three is tonight and game four is in Daegu tomorrow night, with the next three games in Jamsil, southern Seoul, if necessary.
By Jason Kim [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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