The NC Dinos started May in ninth place among 10 clubs in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) League but now find themselves at the top, edging defending champion Samsung Lions by just a .004 winning percentage.
In 26 games last month, the Dinos amassed 20 wins, one draw and five losses, tying the KBO record for the most wins in a month first set by the Kia Tigers in August 2009. The Tigers won the Korean Series that year.
In May alone, the Dinos had a team batting average of .300 and a 3.41 ERA, the best in the league.
The Dinos will be looking to extend the momentum in June with six straight home games this week, facing the LG Twins and Samsung Lions. It won’t be easy, though, as the Dinos have collected just one victory in their five encounters against the Twins and sit 2-4 against the Lions.
Regional rival Lotte Giants had a roller coaster of a month. In the first nine games in May, the Busan-based club was just 1-8, slipping to eighth in the league standings. But for their last 18 games, the Giants rebounded with a 13-5 record and retained their fifth-place position. This week, they travel to Pohang, North Gyeongsang, to face the Lions before hosting the Kia Tigers on Friday.
New foreign players are also expected to debut this week. The Doosan Bears last Tuesday announced that they’ve reached an agreement with Deibinson Romero, who has been playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis this year. The 28-year-old infielder from the Dominican Republic is a replacement for Zach Lutz, who was released last month due to his poor batting.
The KT Wiz hopes Dan Black will boost its offense. The league’s worst team announced Thursday they’d signed the 27-year-old American first baseman with a one-year deal worth $300,000. The switch-hitter, who has been playing in the minors since 2009, replaces pitcher Andy Sisco who went 0-6 with 6.23 ERA with the Wiz.
Confusion brings clearing, lies at Doosan-Dinos game
What Min Byung-hun of the Doosan Bears did on Wednesday was egregious and unexpected.
In the top of seventh inning, the Bears leadoff Oh Jae-won stepped out from the batting box asking for time out while Dinos pitcher Eric Hacker was on the windup. Feeling as though his pitching rhythm had been thrown off, the right-hander tossed the ball over the back net, which was counted as not in play.
Oh eventually hit a grounder to first base, which Hacker had to run to cover. The American yelled at Oh to “get in the box,” referring to his previous play. Oh apparently misheard the word “box” as a curse word and a quarrel broke out between two, prompting a bench clearing.
But the real problem happened when someone from the bench tried to hit Hacker with a baseball. Since many players were running toward first base, umpires didn’t know which Bears player threw the ball.
The umpires later ejected outfielder Jang Min-seok for the misdeed after he claimed responsibility, but it turned out that Min Byung-hun was the guilty party. He later apologized to fans and visited Hacker the next day.
Min, 28, was suspended for three games and forced to volunteer for the youth league for 40 hours, the KBO said Thursday. The Bears lost Wednesday’s game 1-7.
BY JOO KYUNG-DON [email@example.com]