SSG Landers' lead at top of KBO narrows after rough week
The first-place SSG Landers were the only team in the KBO to drop two series over the last week, cutting their lead to 3.5 games as rain disruptions and ties left a lot of the weekend action undecided.
The Landers started their week losing their series to the KT Wiz, coincidentally the only team in the league to have won both series over the last seven days to climb from eighth to seventh place on the table.
The first two games were tight as the reigning KBO champions took on this year’s clear frontrunners, with the Wiz winning the first game 2-1 and then dropping the second 2-1 before coming back to take a big 14-1 rubber match victory on Thursday.
The Landers bats stayed quiet going into the weekend when a trip to southern Seoul saw them take on the third-place LG Twins. The Seoul club won two in a row — 6-1, 6-2 — before the Landers came back to take a consolation game 2-0.
The six low-scoring games leave the league leaders with some serious concerns to resolve at bat, with just nine runs scored in the last week.
The second-place Kiwoom Heroes inched closer to the Landers with a midweek win over the fifth-place Samsung Lions — 3-2, 2-4, 6-5 — before dropping their opening weekend game 14-2 to the ninth-place Hanwha Eagles. The Heroes came back to win the second game of that series 4-3, but the rubber match was postponed due to rain.
Before beating the Landers over the weekend, the Twins appeared to struggle in a fairly even matchup with the eighth-place Lotte Giants, losing the opening game 7-5 before taking game two 14-5. There was no room to separate the two clubs in the final game of that series on Thursday, ending in a 2-2 tie after 12 innings.
The Kia Tigers round off the top four, with a four game gap opening up between fourth and fifth place.
The Tigers pulled off the only sweep of the week, comfortably beating the sixth-place Doosan Bears in their midweek series — 13-10, 7-3, 4-3. Moving into the weekend the Gwangju club’s luck changed, losing two games to the Wiz — 5-2, 4-3 — before tying the final game of the series, 2-2.
Following their loss to the Heroes, the Lions split their weekend series with the Doosan Bears. The Daegu club won the first game 8-5 and lost the second 16-8, with the third game postponed due to rain.
The series capped off a rough week for both the Lions and the Bears, who sit in fifth and sixth place, both 10 games behind the Landers. Despite inching close to first place at different points in the season, both clubs are now sliding, with the Lions winning three of their last ten games and the Bears winning four.
KT takes seventh place, one game behind the Bears and Lions, followed closely by the Giants.
The Busan club has shown the worst form in the last few weeks, winning just two of their last ten games. Despite that struggle, the Giants managed to get through this week without losing a series, splitting the midweek matchup with the Twins and then losing 5-1 to local rivals the NC Dinos on Friday before winning 3-2 on Saturday. Sunday’s game was also canceled because of rain.
Rounding off the bottom of the table, the Eagles take ninth and the Dinos take 10th, although the Dinos emerged victorious when the two clubs faced off last week. Playing on the road in Daejeon, the Dinos beat the Eagles 10-5 on Tuesday before dropping Wednesday’s game 3-0 and coming back to win the rubber match 4-3.
Despite winning three of five games this week, the Dinos remain two games behind the Eagles and 17.5 games behind the first-place Landers.
With just 0.5 games separating third and fourth place, there’s a lot on the line in this week’s matchup between the Twins and Tigers at Gwangju Kia Champions Field in Gwangju.
Elsewhere in the KBO, the Eagles visit the Bears at Jamsil in southern Seoul, the Lions take on the Giants in Busan, the Landers travel to Changwon to face the Dinos and the Wiz play the Heroes in western Seoul.
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]