Which team will have the last laugh in the season’s second ‘elotracico’ with the lead at stake?
The Lotte Giants and LG Twins will play a three-game midweek series at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul from the 30th. This is the second clash of the season, following a three-game series at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan from the 11th to the 13th of last month, and Lotte was the hero of the winning series.
The three-game series is also very important for both teams. Third-placed Lotte (26 wins, 16 losses) and first-placed LG (30 wins, 1 draw, 16 losses) are currently in a “three-way tie” with second-placed SSG Landers (28 wins, 1 draw, 16 losses). They are separated by just one game each. The outcome of this series is expected to make a big difference in the standings.
Especially for Lotte, this is a golden opportunity to close the gap on LG as it is a direct head-to-head. If they can sweep the three-game series, they could move up to first place.
Lotte have been in great form recently. Last week, they took two of three from the NC Dinos and Kiwoom Heroes. On the 28th, a bullpen collapse led to a 5-7 upset loss to Kiwoom, but things are still looking good.
As of the 29th, Lotte is ranked seventh in team ERA (4.04) and fifth in team batting average (0.259), and the team’s “team-first” mentality is the reason for this upswing.
After the game, Yoo Kang-nam, who went 2-for-4 with the game-winning hit and one RBI in Lotte’s 6-5 victory over Gochuk Kiwoom on the 27th, said, “Ahn Chi-hong called a meeting when we were struggling a little bit in the game, and he told us that everyone wants to get a hit, but let’s try to bat as a team to advance one more base, and the juniors also realised that. The players were focused and played baseball as one, and I think it paid off.”토토사이트
Lotte also relies on the support of the away fans. “Of course, many Lotte fans come to the other eight stadiums and cheer us on,” said Lotte manager Larry Sutton before the game against Gochuk Kiwoom on the 28th, “but I think it’s different to play at Sajik Baseball Stadium and Jamsil Baseball Stadium. The meaning is also different. More Lotte fans come and the sound of their cheers is different. I want to reward the fans with a good game, and I’m looking forward to the Jamsil series,” he said, adding, “That’s the goal,” when asked by a reporter if a good performance could lead to a first-place finish.
Lotte will send right-handed sidearm Han Hyun-hee to the mound for the 30th game. This season, he is 4-3 with a 4.58 ERA in eight appearances. A concern is that he did not go the distance in his last outing on the 24th against the Busan NC (1-3 Lotte loss), giving up two runs in four innings, and in his most recent outing against LG on the 13th of April, he gave up five runs in five innings.
LG, on the other hand, has arguably built the strongest offence of the year. LG’s biggest strength is their batting lineup, which picked up a 4-2 record against SSG and the KIA Tigers last week. LG currently leads the team in most offensive metrics, including batting average (0.290), RBI (241), OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage – 0.780), and runs scored (253).
In particular, Austin Dean, who is tied with Edison Russell (KIUM) for the team lead in RBIs with 36, and Park Dong-won, who is tops in both categories with an OPS of 0.958 to go along with his 13 arches, have made their presence felt in the centre and lower order. Hong Chang-ki and Moon Sung-ju, who are mainly used as table-setters, are also ranked first and second in their respective categories with 0.434 and 0.425 OPS, respectively.
The mound is also strong, with a team ERA of 3.32. The bullpen is also solid, with a 3.29 ERA among the starters. Right-handed sidearm Park Myung-geun (1-4, 2.75 ERA with five saves) and Ham Deok-ju (2-3, 1.52 ERA with seven saves) have been solid in the bullpen despite being in their debut season.
LG coach Yeom Kyung-yup recently commented on the double Park Myung-geun, saying, “It’s a complete win now. I hope he (Park) gets the Rookie of the Year award for his good performance. From the beginning of this season, I started with the idea that the goal was for Park to win the Rookie of the Year.” “In the end, a coach should let his players win more titles. That’s the way to create more stars in our team. The award increases the value of the player, and if the player’s confidence is boosted by the award, it can be an opportunity to grow even more at the next level.”
For the 30th game, LG announced right-hander Lee Min-ho as the starter. The right-hander, who made his professional debut in 2020 and went 12-8 with a 5.51 ERA in 26 games (119.1 innings) last season, will be making his return from injury. After pitching 5.1 innings of two-run ball (0 ERA) against Gochuk Kiwoom (1-2 LG) last month, Lee has been rehabbing and recovering from a right elbow flexor strain until recently.
After recovering from the injury, Lee threw two scoreless innings of two-hit ball with two walks and three strikeouts against Lotte in the Futures (2nd Division) League on the 17th, and then played a scrimmage against Sungkyunkwan University on the 24th to tune up his game and prepare for his debut.
Lotte and LG have their own strengths, but which of the two teams will be able to achieve a winning series in this three-game series. With so much attention on them, the team that smiles in this three-game series will be able to take the lead in the race for the top spot.