Kia Tigers’ dream season turning into nightmareThe Korea Baseball Organization is said to have lost some of its vigor this season as many clubs are settling for mediocre play. Indeed, the only dynamic is the pace of the fall of the Kia Tigers, whose bid to extend their league record of Korean Series titles to 11 is all but a daydream.
The Tigers lost to the SK Wyverns, 9-2, on Tuesday, falling to seventh place in the nine-team league, which is de facto last place, excluding the two doormat teams - the NC Dinos and Hanwha Eagles.
The Tigers were considered a strong candidate to win the season - and their first Korean Series title since 2009 - when they finished preseason exhibition games in March with the best results in the league. The Gwangju franchise lived up to expectations early, maintaining the lead for a month.
But then the team fell out of first place on May 7, dropped to fourth place on May 10, slipped to fifth on June 2 and sank to sixth place four days later.
It showed signs of a revival in mid-June with nine straight wins and climbed back to fifth place, but it slumped again after the mid-season break, falling to sixth place last week before dropping to seventh on Tuesday.
It took only 99 days for Kia to fall from first to seventh place, the fastest drop of any leading team in KBO history.
Kia is 5-13 in the second half of the season, the worst record among the nine teams in the same period. It has not won two games in a row since nine straight wins through June 22.
The team batting average was the second-highest in the league at .285 in April, but in the second half it is .249, second-worst in the league.
The team’s 6.27 ERA is the worst in the league in the second half. Its starters’ average ERA of 7.30 is also the league’s worst.
Above all, the team lacks stamina. It relinquished an early lead in 23 games this season, while recording 15 come-from-behind wins. Since June, the team rallied to win only eight times, while blowing leads in twice as many games.
Many fans are expressing dissatisfaction on the team’s fan cafe, Horangi Sarangbang.
“They were turned from a strong candidate for the title into the worst team,” a fan said. “Somebody needs to take responsibility.”
BY LEE HYEONG-SEOK AND MOON GWANG-LIP [firstname.lastname@example.org]