In a foreshadowing of sorts, the Lotte Giants’ bullpen, which faltered in the bottom of the ninth inning on Sunday, gave up the game-winning run on Monday.
Lotte lost 5-7 against the Kiwoom Heroes of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on April 28.
Lotte got off to a good start. In the top of the second inning, Ahn Chi-hong singled, Yoo Kang-nam was hit by a pitch, and Noh Jin-hyuk walked to load the bases. Ahn scored on a sacrifice fly by Ko Seung-min. Yoo Kang-nam advanced to third. Han Dong-hee followed with a sacrifice fly to score Yoo Kang-nam. In the top of the third, Jeon Jun-woo tripled and Ahn Chi-hong scored on a single.
Lotte starter Na Kyun-an was in trouble in the third inning. He gave up a hit to Kim Jun-wan, a walk to Kim Hye-sung, and a single to Lee Jung-hoo to load the bases. But his crisis management skills shined through. He got Edison Russell to ground into a double play. Kim Jun-wan came home, but he got two more outs and got Lim Byung-wook to fly out to center field for the minimum.
Lotte added a run in the top of the fifth. Yoon Dong-hee led off with a single and advanced to second on a throwing error by Jung Chan-heon. Ahn Kwon-soo walked and Park Seung-wook laid down a sacrifice bunt to put runners on first and second. A sacrifice fly by Jeon Jun-woo and an RBI single by Ahn Chi-hong scored two runs.
Na retired the side in order in the fifth and gave up a leadoff single to Lee Jung-hoo in the bottom of the sixth, but got Russell, Lim Byung-wook, and Lee Won-seok to pop out to end the game. He pitched six innings, allowing one run (one earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out nine. It was Na’s most strikeouts of the season.
However, the Lotte bullpen collapsed. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Kim Hye-sung grounded out to second base with the bases loaded, allowing Kim Hwi-jip to score from third base. No further runs were scored. However, in the bottom of the eighth inning, they gave up a run to Kiwoom.
In the bottom of the eighth, Lotte sent Kim Sang-soo to the mound. After giving up consecutive hits to Russell, Lim Byung-wook, and Lee Won-seok, Kim gave up a sacrifice fly to Kim Dong-heon. Kim Hwijip then singled to load the bases again, bringing in Yoon Myung-joon. 스포츠토토 Yoon struck out Lee Hyung-jong, but gave up a grand slam to Lim Ji-yeol. They were unable to score in the top of the ninth and dropped their final game of the week.
Lotte started the three-game series against Kiwoom by sweeping the first game. On July 27, they gave up five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning after leading 6-0. Jin Seung-hyun gave up singles to Lee Jung-hoo and Kim Hye-sung and then struck out Russell, but walked Song Sung-moon. Yoon Myung-jun came on and struck out Lee Won-seok. However, he gave up an RBI double to Kim Dong-heon, bringing in closer Kim Won-joong.
Kim Won-joong walked Lee Hyung-jong to load the bases with two outs and gave up a push single to Lim Ji-yeol. Lim Byung-wook followed with an RBI double to tie the game at one. Lee struck out Lee Jung-hoo on a grounder to the pitcher to preserve the win.
For the second straight day, Lotte’s bullpen faltered. They preserved the win on the 27th, but gave up the game-winning run on the 28th. Lotte will play a three-game midweek series against the LG Twins at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul starting on the 30th. It’s a crucial game in the race for first place. They’ll need to pick up the pace before facing LG, which has the best batting average in the league.