Week two in the Korea Baseball Orgnaization saw half of the league regress to the mean, one team flounder absolutely, and one team take command of the league. The NC Dinos, what some might consider to be America’s Team, failed to lose. Their early stranglehold on the league is an early indication as to why they were so highly touted in the offseason. The baseball year is long, and there is much yet to be played, but for the time being there is no reason to consider anyone above NC for the title. The story of the week, however, belongs to the Lotte Giants. As you’ll see below, they managed to run the full gamut of emotions on the field.
table after week two (May 12-18)
Game of the Week: 5/13 Doosan Bears @ Lotte Giants. Full Game Replay Here // The week began so well for the Giants. An early season home series against the champs would be a real chance to show they belong in the championship hunt. From the jump, it was clear the game would not be a defensive struggle. Doosan put up 2 in the first on a Jae-hwan Kim homer that was just divine.
Lotte matched in the bottom half. Doosan scored three over the course of the next two innings and kept Lotte at bay. In the bottom of the fifth, Bo-geun Jung hit a hard grounder to second, but…
Ji-hyuk Ryu pulled a Buckner and Jung was safe. The next two Giants struck out then flied out, meaning the inning would be over. Unfortunately for Doosan, that would not be the case. Two batters later, Dae-ho Lee walked to load the bases, then Chi-hong An walked, driving in Bung. In stepped Dixon Machado, Lotte’s star, who slapped a double to left, plating two more runs. The game was tied.
Lotte went up 7-5 in the next frame, then in the 7th inning, Joo-hwan Choi put the Bears back up with a pinch-hit, three-run shot to right. The Bears were not going to crumble so easily like their American football counterparts. Dae-ho Lee, as he does, slapped a double to right-center that would have scored two, were it not for Ah-seop Son getting caught at the plate. Lee was driven in on the next at-bat. Lotte was up 9-8 going into the final frame.
The lead did not linger long, as Jae-il Oh committed an act of vandalism on a Won-joon Kim pitch that was unfortunately high and just outside of center.
The Giants got out of the inning, but the score was tied. All the Giants had to do was…
AND BYUNG-HUN MIN HAS WALKED OFF THE DOOSAN BEARS. THE LOTTE CAPTAIN HAS STRUCK DOWN HIS FORMER TEAM.
It was a beautiful shot, and the lack of collateral damage to the eardrums of all in attendance is a testament to the times we’re living in, but that doesn’t make Min’s shot any more wondrous.
FBC Player of the Week: Preston Tucker, RF, KIA Tigers. I really wanted to give this to Dixon Machado. Or Byung-hun Min. Or, for that matter, most of the NC Dinos. But for the second straight week the award goes to Tucker. He added two home runs, SIX DOUBLES, all culminating on May 16th against Doosan, when he went 4 for 4 with three doubles and a homer. SEVEN RUNS BATTED IN.
Bonus- here’s a little taste of Dixon Machado’s defensive skill. He’s beautiful on the diamond.
The reason I said the story of the week belongs to Lotte was not just their walk-off over Doosan on the 13th. On the 17th, they suffered perhaps the most embarrassing of losses- the BALK-OFF
But what happened earlier in the game was the worst of it all. Lotte Giants pitcher Seung-heun Lee took a combacker to the head. It was a particularly scary scene as he layed on the field. The examination led to a diagnosis of a fine head fracture and intracranial hemorrhage.
After he was released, Lee released a statement. Here it is, translated from Korean to English:
Bat Flip of the Week: I didn’t see any great ones, and nothing came across my ticker this week, so let’s go to the vault. Lol this was an out, but boy was it spectacular. Enjoy.
Most importantly, I need to give a shoutout to Dan Kurtz and his website MyKBO.net, which has been an invaluable resource for Korean baseball fans like yours truly for many years. He can be found on twitter at @MyKBO.