For the second year in a row, the fall baseball dream is crumbling.
The Kia Tigers are facing their biggest crisis yet. They’re struggling to rebound after their five-game winning streak collapsed, but they’re not getting anywhere. With a win-loss margin of -7, they are now in a position where they have to worry about relegation, let alone returning to the top five.
Heading into June, KIA made a key move. The team decided to recall foreign starters Sean Anderson and Jung Hae-young to the disabled list and utilize the bullpen as a backup.
While in-season rest and readjustment of full-time starters is a common occurrence in the first half of every season, long-term departures of closers are rare. Kia’s goal was to find a solution before it became a bigger problem and find momentum heading into fall baseball. The decision was made possible because of a “constant”. With Choi Won-jun returning from military service and Na Sung-beom and Kim Do-young recovering from injuries, the batting lineup was expected to start to pick up steam and naturally take some pressure off the mound.
However, Kia’s steps seemed to get more and more twisted, and another foreign starter, Adonis Medina, eventually failed to rebound and was effectively sent packing. The pressure on the bullpen grew as closer Jung Hae-young was out for more than a month with no clue how to reorganize. In the meantime, Yoon Young-cheol and Lee Yi-ri faltered one after another, leaving a hole in the starting lineup. The much-anticipated batting lineup has also entered a down cycle. Recently, the injuries to captain Kim Sun-bin and outfielder Byun Woo-hyuk have left holes in the infield.
The 28th game against the Gwangju Kiwoom Heroes seemed to be the final straw for KIA’s struggles.
On that day, KIA lost to Kiwoom 5-7 in 11 extra innings. After falling behind 2-4, they quickly tied the game and took the lead again in the sixth inning. The Kia bench tried to hold on to the win by bringing in the closer in the seventh inning, but the bullpen hemorrhaged even more when Jang Hyun-sik, who came on in relief with the bases loaded, gave up three consecutive singles to tie the game. Choi Ji-min, who was brought in after two outs in the top of the eighth inning, was in charge of the mound until the ninth inning, but the bats failed and the game went into extra innings. In this situation, 메이저놀이터 the KIA bench kept Choi on the mound in the top of the 10th inning to prevent a run. Despite this, they were unable to score the winning run. In the 11th inning of extra innings, Hwang Dong-ha’s Kim Yoo-shin gave up four consecutive singles to Kiwoom and a sacrifice fly to score one more run. The blow of not getting the win, even with Hwang Dong-ha and Kim Yoo-shin in the lineup to preserve the tie, was too much to bear.