Landers remain undefeated to take first place in KBO
The SSG Landers remain undefeated after two weeks of KBO action, topping the table with eight straight wins to edge out the second-place LG Twins.
The Landers started the first full week of the 2022 season with a three-game sweep of the reigning champion KT Wiz — 8-5, 3-0, 4-3 — at Suwon KT Wiz Park in Suwon, Gyeonggi. The Landers then returned home for the first time this season over the weekend, beating the Kia Tigers 3-0, 9-5, 11-2 at Incheon SSG Landers Field in Incheon.
Saturday's game saw recent MLB returnee Kim Kwang-hyun head to the mound for the first time this season as he slots into the SSG rotation after a week of games. Kim, who played the last two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals before returning to Korea after failing to land a new contract during the major league lockout, threw a scoreless six innings, giving up just one hit and one walk with five strikeouts.
Kim's solid start to the season is fairly representative of the entire Landers squad. Rather than relying on a few big names, the Landers have started the season strong pretty much across the board, currently leading the KBO both for team batting average, at .272, home runs, at seven, and team ERA, at 1.97.
The Twins follow close behind the Landers with just one loss so far this season. The Seoul club swept the Kiwoom Heroes to start off the week — 8-4, 2-1, 6-0 — before dropping a single game to the NC Dinos on Friday, 4-1, and coming back to win two on the trot, 7-6, 5-3, to round off the weekend.
Solid batting has helped keep the Twins so high up the table. Kim Hyun-soo went deep three nights in a row against the Heroes last week, and then added one more against the Dinos on Sunday. Kim leads the KBO for home runs so far this season, while LG's Moon Bo-gyeong is second for batting average, at .458.
The Doosan Bears take third place with five wins and three losses, losing two games to the Samsung Lions to start the week, and then dropping one to the Lotte Giants over the weekend.
The Heroes and Giants are tied for fourth on four wins and four losses each. The Giants took two wins and a loss against the Dinos last week, before facing the Bears over the weekend.
After being swept by the Twins earlier in the week, the Heroes swept the Lions — 1-0, 3-0, 6-5 — over the weekend, the only team apart from the Landers to manage a weekend sweep.
Further down the table, the Lions slip into sixth place with three wins and five losses, despite winning their midweek series against the Bears. The Tigers, who swept the Hanwha Eagles — 4-3, 7-4, 6-2 — also tie for sixth following their weekend with the Landers.
The reigning champion Wiz, Dinos and Eagles all tie for eighth place with two wins and six losses.
The Wiz and Eagles faced off over the weekend, with last season's losers edging out the reigning champions with two wins and a loss.
The KBO returns Tuesday with a series that ought to immediately upset the balance at the top of the table as the Landers take on the Twins at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in southern Seoul. The Dinos will also head to Seoul to face the Heroes, while the Bears go down to Suwon to play the Wiz.
Heading outside the capital area, the Eagles will travel to Daegu to take on the Lions, while the Giants and Tigers face off in Gwangju.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]