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Weekly Review

KT Wiz sidesteps disaster with four-game win streak

After a series of poor performances, the rookie club KT Wiz was on its way to having the record for the lowest winning percentage in the Korea Baseball Organization since 1982. The Suwon-based club was on a 10-game losing streaking and marked a .103 winning percentage with three wins, 26 losses. But it turned the tide Wednesday with a four-game winning streak against the Hanwha Eagles and the LG Twins, a league record. The Wiz could have notched the first series sweep against the Twins, but lost 4-2 on Sunday.

The Wiz’s wins last week were largely due to improved batting. In its first 29 games, the team’s batting average was just .223. When bases were loaded, the team’s average dropped to .120.

In its four winning games, the Wiz’s batting average was .326, its best ever, and hit three-for-six when the bases were loaded. There were also eight stolen bases.

The Wiz seems to be benefitting from its four-for-five trade with the Lotte Giants on May 2. Newcomer catcher Jang Sung-woo and outfielder Ha Jun-ho have been doing especially well in offense.

While the Wiz may have earned confidence with the trade, the Giants went the other way. The Busan-based club lost all six games last week, losing to the SK Wyverns from Tuesday to Thursday and the NC Dinos over the weekend. The Giants last week fired off nine home runs, but they were all solos.

The Giants will look to end its six-game losing streak in a three-game series against the Nexen Heroes that starts today.

Player in Focus: Lee Bum-ho (Kia Tigers)

The Kia Tigers hadn’t collected a victory against Nexen Heroes since July 2014, but they finally broke their 11-game losing streak on Sunday thanks to team captain and veteran third baseman Lee Bum-ho.

When the team was trailing 3-6 in the top of the seventh inning, the 33-year-old Lee hit a grand slam against Heroes pitcher Kim Young-min to give the Tigers a 7-6 lead. This was Lee’s sixth home run of the season, and it was his 12th career grand slam, tying retired Shim Jong-soo for most grand slams. Lee, a former Fukuoka Softbank Hawks and Hanwha Eagles player, now has five home runs, 46 RBIs and a batting average of .344 when the bases are loaded in the last five years, proving himself crucial in high-pressure situations.

Talbot lashes out, ejected after umpire declares balk

Balks are often minor annoyances for pitchers, but they can sometimes serve as the moment in a game that changes everything.

On Sunday, Hanwha Eagles pitcher Mitch Talbot was ejected in a game against the Doosan Bears. In the bottom of the third inning when the Eagles were trailing 2-0, the 31-year-old American saw leadoff hitter Kim Jae-ho going to first base after he hit a single.

While Min Byung-hun was at bat, Talbot had a pick-off throw to first base, but the first base umpire declared a balk.

The former Cleveland Indian angrily threw his glove to the ground and eventually was thrown off the field.

According to the umpire, Talbot’s right knee was bent before making a throw to the first baseman, which was apparently considered an illegal motion.

The problem was that no relief pitchers were warming up when Talbot was pitching. Lefty pitcher Kim Ki-hyun was sent to the mound in a hurry, but gave up a two-run homer right away.

The Eagles eventually lost 6-0, getting shut out by Bears pitcher Yoo Hee-kwan.

This is not the first time that the right-hander was involved in controversial balk calls.

He received three when he was playing for the Samsung Lions in 2012, and even got one this preseason in a March game against the Bears.
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