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Weekly Review

Attendance tops 2 million, with Eagles leading way

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) hopes to top 8.36 million in attendance this season and on Saturday the league surpassed 2 million with 27 percent of the league schedule completed.

The Hanwha Eagles are leading the way with a league-best 10 sold-out games. The average attendance at Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon is 9,644, up 30 percent from 7,424 last year. The team is expected to break its attendance record of 519,794 set in 2012.

This week, the Eagles visit Incheon to play the SK Wyverns before taking on the last-place KT Wiz. Eagles manager Kim Sung-keun will visit Incheon SK Happy Dream Stadium for the first time since Aug. 18, 2011. Kim led the Wyverns in their heyday in 2007-11, leading the club to three Korean Series titles and one runner-up.

Meanwhile, Kim said the Eagles’ new foreign player, Jake Fox, who replaces Nyjer Morgan, will be playing in the minors before coming to the first division. The Eagles signed the 32-year-old American on Friday to a one-year deal worth $120,000.

Also this week, the Samsung Lions and Doosan Bears clash head-to-head at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul tonight through Thursday. The Bears are leading the league by percentage points over the defending champion. The Bears will host the No. 3 Wyverns next.

The Lotte Giants ended their six-game losing streak last Tuesday and managed to climb up in the league standings after collecting five wins and one loss last week. They will be looking to keep up the momentum, this week at home against the KIA Tigers tonight and the LG Twins for a weekend series starting Friday.

Player focus Ahn Young-myung (Hanwha Eagles)

Starting pitchers usually appear once or twice a week, but Ahn Young-myung appeared in three games in six days.

The 30-year-old right-hander started for the Eagles on Tuesday and Thursday against the Samsung Lions and Sunday against Nexen Heroes.

But tweaking the rotation didn’t produce results. In the three games he played, Ahn have up eight runs in 8 2/3 innings with a 12.71 ERA.

This is far below his performance in April, when he was selected as the Korea Baseball Organization’s MVP for the month. In April, the former KIA Tigers player went 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his 10 games.

But luckily for Ahn, he didn’t pick up a loss in any of those poorly pitched three games as the Eagles managed to win all of them.

More good news for Ahn is that there will be no more experimenting with the starting rotation. Eagles manager Kim Sung-keun said after Sunday’s game that he will return to his usual schedule.

Attempted defensive shift heaps ridicule on manager

Kia Tigers manager Kim Ki-tae became something of an international celebrity last Wednesday as his defense shift strategy was featured on MLB.com and ESPN.

With a game against the KT Wiz tied 5-5 with two outs in the top of the ninth inning and runners on second and third, Kim positioned Tiger third baseman Lee Bum-ho behind his catcher to protect against a wild pitch during an intentional walk.

It looked creative and aggressive, but the only problem is it was illegal because the KBO rule states that every fielder other than the catcher must be in fair territory.

Umpires rejected strategy and the former LG Twins manager later acknowledged he forgot about the rule. Luckily, the Tigers managed to hold the Wiz and eventually won the game, 9-8, at home.

However, it was not enough to shield Kim and third baseman Lee from international mockery. Some local fans ridiculed Kim’s tactic as creating a new position, such as “fourth baseman” and “backfielder.”

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [joo.kyungdon@joongang.co.kr]
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