Lions seek revenge, fourth KS title in G5

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Lions seek revenge, fourth KS title in G5

Leading the Korean Series 3-1, the Daegu Samsung Lions look to seal the title and stave off the defending champion Incheon SK Wyverns in Game 5 tonight at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul.

The Lions - the regular-season champion of the Korea Baseball Organization - were unable to sweep the Wyverns last week on the road. The team lost Game 3 2-1 on Friday but clinched a commanding series lead in Game 4 with an 8-4 win on Saturday, thanks to home runs from Shin Myung-chul and Choi Hyung-woo.

The Lions are now just one win away from the title, which would be the franchise’s first since 2006 and fourth in team history.

The Lions are in a strong position, as no team in KBO history has ever blown a 3-1 series lead.

Lions manager Ryu Joong-il said after Saturday’s game that he is set to close the series in Game 5, sending lefty ace Cha Woo-chan to the mound and stacking the bullpen to help close out the critical game.

Cha, 24, has featured four times against the Wyverns in the regular season with a 1-1 record and 2.39 ERA. In this series, Cha has contained the Wyverns’ offense for three innings as a relief pitcher in Game 1 with five strikeouts in 36 pitches.

“We are confident since we are sending a strong pitcher,” Ryu said. “I don’t know how Game 5 will turn out, but if we get the chance, we will send our bullpen pitchers to seal the deal.”

And with batters Choi and Park Seok-min starting to show off their power hitting from Game 4, the Lions are in good form to revenge the Wyverns, who swept the team in last year’s Korean Series.

However, Ryu admitted that the victory will not be easy. The 48-year-old manager said that the Wyverns are still a tough team to beat.

“I didn’t know the road to the Korean Series victory was going to be this rough,” Ryu said. “The Wyverns are a really strong team.”

The Wyverns, meanwhile, are seeking to fight back with former Major Leaguer Brian Gordon, who has shown strong pitching in the post-season.

Gordon joined the Wyverns in July and complied a 6-4 record with a 3.81 ERA in the regular season. But in the post-season, he featured in five games and went 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA. The right-hander took the mound in the first two games of the series as a relief pitcher and didn’t allow a single run.

The 33-year-old from the United States has a 90- to 92-mile-per-hour fastball, but questions remain about his durability. Gordon’s throwing power cools down after 40-50 pitches.

“I want him to pitch longer, but since he played in the first two games, I’m not sure whether he can pitch five innings,” the Wyverns interim manager Lee Man-soo said. “If he can’t stand longer, our relief pitchers will again go through a difficult time.”

The series will move to Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul, a neutral venue that complies with the KBO rule mandating top-seeded clubs play at a park with a capacity of more than 25,000 in the final three games of the best-of-seven series.

The rule is designed to help draw more fans.


By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]
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