Having the most games remaining seemed like it would do more good than harm, but it didn’t take long for the desperation to set in. The distance between the top three spots had grown considerably. Would the KIA Tigers, who had been fighting for a postseason berth, miss out on the fall baseball stage?
The Tigers fell to 66-2, 67 (.496) with a 3-5 loss against KT Wiz in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at KT Wiz Park in Suwon on Friday. SSG, which was battling KIA for fifth place just a few days ago, moved up to fourth place with the win over NC, closing to within 0.5 games of third-place Doosan. The gap between fourth-place SSG-NC and sixth-place KIA is four games.
KIA started their “ace” Yang Hyun-jong, while KT used substitute starter Jo Jo-hyun. After a leadoff double by Kim Do-young in the top of the third inning, KIA quickly lost the lead with four runs in the bottom of the third inning, and a solo shot by Kim Sang-soo in the bottom of the fourth inning ended their chances of catching up.
KIA got a late start in the top of the sixth inning with an RBI single by Kim Sun-bin, but couldn’t add any runs. In the top of the eighth, after back-to-back singles by Kim Kyu-sung and Kim Do-young, Go Jong-wook, Kim Sun-bin, and Socrates Brito were all retired.
Despite a quality start, Yang suffered his 11th loss of the season after allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits (one home run) and two walks while striking out five in five innings. Given that he has a maximum of two starts left in the season, Yang’s quest for a ninth consecutive double-digit win season is effectively over.
Going back in time a bit, the start of the downward spiral was on September 12. That’s when KIA began the rest of its schedule. Neither the players nor the fans thought the team would fall this far until the team went 3-1 in the previous series, a four-game series (including a doubleheader) against LG on September 8-10.
But on the first day of the remaining games, the team lost 9-10, and it became difficult to get at-bats after star infielder Park Chan-ho left the game with a finger ligament injury. The next day, down 1-3 to Lotte, a torrential downpour in the top of the sixth inning forced KIA to accept the outcome of a rain-shortened game that saw them squander their remaining four offensive opportunities.
The next series, a three-game series against Doosan, was even more devastating. After losing the first game of the three-game series on September 15, KIA got a day’s respite with a rainout on the 16th, but the mood sank further with back-to-back losses on the 17th and 18th. On the 19th, not only did they lose 3-4 at home against LG, but they also lost their starting outfielder. Na Sung-beom was injured while playing the outfield and was diagnosed with a right hamstring injury, ending his season.
With no signs of rebounding, KIA continued its sluggish trend until the beginning of this month. In the second game of a doubleheader against KT on April 4, Park Chan-ho, who had been playing “injury fighting spirit,” was diagnosed with a comminuted fracture of his left ulna after being hit by a ball from opposing starter Lee Sun-woo. The condition was serious enough to require 12 weeks of rehabilitation. He continued to play according to his doctor’s orders, but now it’s difficult for him to play.메이저사이트
The situation was not favorable in many ways, leaving KIA with a dismal record of 6-15 (0.286) in 21 games from the 12th of last month to the 5th of this month against KT. No other team had a lower winning percentage than KIA in the same period. Ultimately, the team’s slump in the final stretch of the regular season played a major role in the team’s fluctuation in the standings.
The coaching staff, including KIA head coach Kim Jong-guk, did not give up and put in a lot of effort, and the players’ will to play fall baseball was strong. The more I think about it, the more I regret the loss of players who were selected for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games and the increase in injuries. However, even after the Chuseok holiday, the reversal that KIA was hoping for did not happen, and the “end” of the regular season is slowly approaching.