Resurgent KT Wiz climb up to fifth place
The reigning champion KT Wiz continued their climb up the KBO table this week, winning seven of their last 10 games to move up to fifth place.
The Wiz and the third-place LG Twins were the only two teams to win both their midweek and weekend series this week, between them beating both the first-place SSG Landers and the second-place Kiwoom Heroes.
The Landers and the Wiz faced off to start the week, with the reigning champions winning the first two games — 5-4, 6-3 — before the current leaders came back to take a 6-0 win on Thursday.
The Landers recovered going into the weekend as they took on the eighth-place Lotte Giants, winning two on the trot — 6-2, 10-5 — before allowing the Busan club to take one of their own, 7-5.
The second-place Heroes started their week with a tight series win against local rivals the Doosan Bears — 2-0, 3-4, 6-2 — but were unable to repeat the feat over the weekend as they took on the Twins. The Twins won the opening game 4-2, before the Heroes took one back, 2-0, leaving LG to take the rubber match, again at 4-2.
Earlier in the week the Twins also saw off the sixth-place Samsung Lions, 7-0, 3-6, 2-1.
The fourth-place Kia Tigers had a rougher week, tying their midweek series with the NC Dinos after a rain cancellation — 2-7, 4-2 — before losing to the Lions over the weekend. The Gwangju team started off on the right foot, winning the opening game at home 5-3, but quickly came undone as Samsung rallied, losing two on the trot, 6-2, 7-3.
After beating the Landers to kick off the week, the Wiz took on the seventh-place Bears at Jamsil Stadium in southern Seoul. The reigning champions started the weekend off with a 4-2 win on Friday before the Seoul club came back with a 5-0 victory on Saturday. The Wiz rallied to take the rubber match 7-1 on Sunday to move half a game ahead of the Lions in fifth place.
At the tail-end of the table, the eighth-place Giants beat the last-place Hanwha Eagles — 11-5, 3-0 — in a midweek series after the Tuesday game was postponed. The Eagles then went on to face the ninth-place Dinos over the weekend, tying the first game 1-1 and losing the following two, 3-2, 6-3.
With the losses, the Eagles have now won just one of their last 10 games, with the gap between first and last place now widening to 20 games. The Daejeon team face further troubles this week as, as of press time, the KBO was set to hold a disciplinary hearing Monday for infielder Ha Ju-suk.
The KBO opened disciplinary proceedings against Ha, who also serves as the Eagles captain, following an incident in the eighth inning of the team's 3-0 loss to the Giants on Thursday last week.
While at bat at the bottom of the eighth, Ha disagreed with a strike call by home plate umpire Song Su-keun. Ha argued with Song but returned to bat, striking out swinging shortly afterwards. Following the out, Ha slammed his bat into the ground in frustration and was ejected from the game.
Ha continued to argue before being dragged off to the dugout. On the way off the field, he threw his helmet, which bounced off the wall and hit his own coach Darryl Kennedy in the back of the head.
Ha has a reputation for angry outbursts and was involved in a similar incident in April, although he avoided ejection on that occasion. Last month, Kiwoom Heroes Jeon Byeong-woo was fined 500,000 won ($390) after throwing his bat and helmet, but Ha could face a slightly different punishment because his helmet hit somebody and his behavior came while he held a position of responsibility on the field.
The Eagles' run of bad luck is not likely to improve this week as they head to Seoul to take on the Twins at Jamsil. With the Twins playing at home, the Bears are on the road in Incheon, facing the Landers. Heading south, the Dinos will visit the Wiz in Suwon, Gyeonggi, while the Heroes head to Daegu to take on the Lions and the Giants and Tigers face off in Gwangju.
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]