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Saturday KBO Game Highlights (2013/07/13)

Jul
14

NC 8 - Lotte 7, Changwon [Box Score] [Video Highlights]

The scoring got started right away, with Lotte scoring 3 runs in the top of the 1st, and NC answered with 2 runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. The score ended up with NC leading 7-4 after 5 innings. Lotte first baseman Park Jong-Yun hit a 3-run homerun in the top of the 7th to tie the score at 7-7, but it wouldn't last long as NC DH Lee Ho-Jun hit a solo homerun of his own in the bottom of the 7th which would prove to be the game winner. NC now leads the series 2-0 against the Giants and will be looking for the sweep on Sunday.

LG 10 - SK 1, Incheon [Box Score] [Video Highlights]

The LG Twins put on a hitting clinic in Incheon today, racking up a total of 20 hits for the game, and every player in the lineup had at least one. SK would not score until the bottom of the 9th on a solo homerun from Kim Kang-Min, but it was too little too late. LG starter Ryu Jae-Kuk pitched 6 scoreless innings allowing 5 hits for the win, while the loss went to SK's Jo-Jo Reyes, who gave up 12 hits and 7 runs in 5 2/3 innings. LG leads the series 1-0 after the rainout on Friday, and has now won 4 games in a row.

Doosan 9 - KIA 2, Seoul (Jamsil) [Box Score] [Video Highlights]

There are a lot of similarities between this game and the LG-SK game mentioned above. Doosan had a total of 17 hits and the game was never close. Doosan lead by as much as 9-0 until KIA scored 2 meaningless runs in the top of the 9th. Yu Heui-Kwan pitched 8 scoreless innings earning the win for the Bears, and Henry Sosa took the loss for KIA after allowing 6 runs in 4 innings. Doosan leads the series 1-0.

Samsung 6 - Hanwha 2, Daegu [Box Score] [Video Highlights]

Another day, another loss for Hanwha. Samsung scored 3 in the bottom of the 2nd on a walk and 4 singles, and while Hanwha ended up with more hits than Samsung, they were never able to catch up. Kim Ki-Tae got the start for Samsung, but as he pitched only 3 2/3 innings the win went to reliever Shim Chang-Min. Ma Il-Young was stuck with the loss for the Eagles after allowing 3 runs off of 4 hits in 1 2/3 innings. Samsung leads the series 2-0.

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Friday KBO Game Highlights (2013/07/12)

Jul
13

NC 2 - Lotte 1, Changwon [Box Score] [Video Highlights]

NC starting pitcher Eric Hacker pitched 8 innings, allowing just 4 hits and 1 run. Hacker got his first win since May 22-nearly 2 months ago. Lotte's pitching staff allowed only 1 earned run as well, but a fielding error by pitcher Song Seung-Jun in the 5th inning cost the Giants the game. The win snaps NC's 3 game losing streak.

Eric Hacker post-game interview (English)

Samsung 7 - Hanwha 2, Daegu [Box Score] [Video Highlights]

Samsung scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 1st inning, including a 2-run homerun by left fielder Choi Hyeong-Woo. Right fielder Park Han-Yi hit a 3-run homerun in the bottom of the 8th to extend the lead to 7-0. Hanwha would score 2 runs in the top of the 9th, but they didn't have enough to make the comeback. Samsung's Jang Won-Sam pitched a complete game, allowing just 8 hits, 1 walk, and 2 runs for the win. It was Jang's first complete game since June 27, 2008. The loss went to Hanwha's Lee Tae-Yang.

LG - SK, Incheon Rained Out

KIA - Doosan, Seoul (Jamsil) Rained Out

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Thursday KBO Game Highlights (2013/07/11)

Jul
12

LG 4 - NC 2, Seoul (Jamsil) [Box Score] [Video Highlights]

LG got on the board first with an RBI single from captain Lee Byeong-Kyu in the bottom of the 1st. Lee went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs to continue his hot streak. Lee is batting an unbelievable .632 in his last 5 games. The Twins would extend their lead to 4-0 by the 5th inning. NC scored one run each in the 6th and 8th but could not catch up with LG. Woo Kyu-Min got the win for LG pitching 6 2/3 innings while allowing 5 hits and 1 run. NC starter Adam Wilk pitched 7 innings allowing 8 hits and 2 earned runs for the loss. LG swept the 3 game series against the Dinos.

SK 5 - Samsung 1, Daegu [Box Score] [Video Highlights]

Samsung scored their only run in the bottom of the 1st, and while they got plenty of hits (10 total) they could not manage to bring any runners accross the plate for the rest of the game. Leading 2-1 in the top of the 7th, pinch hitter Lee Jae-Won came through with a big 3-run homerun for SK to seal it. SK starter Chris Seddon allowed 9 hits and 1 run in 6 innings for the win. Samsung starter Yoon Sung-Hwan took the loss. SK wins the series 2-1 against the league leaders.

Hanwha 6 - Doosan 0, Daejeon [Box Score] [Full Game Video]

Hanwha shortstop Song Kwang-Min hit a grand slam in the bottom of the 1st to give the Eagles an early lead. Doosan's offense was nowhere to be found tonight, as the Bears managed just 2 hits for the entire game. Hanwha starter Kim Hyuk-Min pitched 8 scoreless innings for the win while Doosan's Dustin Nippert earned the loss after allowing 5 runs off of 5 hits in 7 innings.

Lotte - Nexen, Seoul (Mokdong) Rained Out

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2013 KBO All-Star Roster Update

Jul
11

Following the fan voting for starters which has already been reported. League managers have also made their selections for reserve players for the upcoming All-Star Game. Below are their picks.

All-Star Game Reserves
  Eastern League Western League
P Ahn Ji-Man (Samsung) Kang Yoon-Koo (Nexen)
P Chris Seddon (SK) Son Seung-Lak (Nexen)
P Park Hee-Soo (SK) Kim Hyuk-Min (Hanwha)
P Oh Hyoun-Taek (Doosan) Song Chang-Sik (Hanwha)
P Hong Sang-Sam (Doosan) Charlie Shirek (NC)
P Kim Sung-Bae (Lotte) Lee Jae-Hak (NC)
C Jin Kab-Yong (Samsung) Cha Il-Mok (KIA)
C Yang Yui-Ji (Doosan) Hur Do-Hwan (Nexen)
IF Park Jin-Man (SK) Kim Seon-Bin (KIA)
IF Oh Jae-Won (Doosan) Park Byung-Ho (Nexen)
OF Bae Yeong-Seop (Samsung) Na Ji-Wan (KIA)
OF Lee Jong-Wook (Doosan) Na Sung-Bum (NC)

These picks are in addition to the results of the fan voting below.

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Wednesday KBO Game Highlights (2013/07/10)

Jul
11

Samsung 5 - SK 4, Daegu [Box Score] [Video Highlights]

Samsung scored 3 runs in the top of the first and held the lead for most of the game, ahead 4-1 after 7 innings. In the top of the 8th SK third baseman Choi Jeong hit a 3-run homerun to tie the game at 4-4. Neither team scored in the 9th and the game headed to extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th, Samsung third baseman Park Seok-Min hit a solo homerun to center field for the win. It was the first walk-off homerun of his career. The win went to Samsung closer Oh Seung-Hwan while SK's Park Jeong-Bae was stuck with the loss.

Park Seok-Min's walk-off homerun

LG 8 - NC 1, Seoul (Jamsil) [Box Score] [Video Highlights]

This game was closer than the final score would indicate. LG held the lead at 2-1 after 6 innings. LG finally pulled away in the bottom of the 7th. Park Yong-Taik hit a 2-RBI triple, followed by 3 straight singles for 2 more runs. The Twins added an additional 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th to give the final score of 8-1. LG's Radhames Liz pitched 7 innings, allowing just 2 hits and 1 run while striking out 10 batters for the win. The loss went to NC starter Son Min-Han who allowed 5 hits and 5 runs in 6 2/3 innings. Also of not, LG DH Lee Byeong-Kyu broke the record for consecutive hits with his single in the 2nd. Dating back to Friday, Lee hit safely in 10 consecutive at-bats, breaking the previous record of 9.

Radhames Liz highlights and post-game interview (English)

Lotte 6 - Nexen 2, Seoul (Mokdong) [Box Score] [Video Highlights]

The game was tied at 2-2 after 6 innings. Lotte scored 3 runs to take the lead in the top of the 7th off of 2 walks, 2 singles, and a double by shortstop Shin Bon-Ki. The Giants added one more in the top of the 8th to give the final score of 6-2. Lotte starter Shane Youman got the win after pitching 6 innings while allowing 6 hits and 2 runs. The loss went to Nexen reliever Lee Bo-Keun.

Doosan 6 - Hanwha 2, Daejeon [Box Score] [Video Highlights]

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Tuesday KBO Game Highlights (2013/07/09)

Jul
10

LG 2 - NC 1, Seoul (Jamsil) [Box Score] [Video Highlights]

The NC Dinos scored first in the 3rd inning after a triple from Kim Jong-Ho and a sacrifice fly from Park Jeong-Jun to bring him home. NC held the 1-0 lead until the bottom of the 6th when LG captain Lee Byeong-Kyu drove in Park Yong-Taik from second with an RBI single. The game remained tied at 1-1 and eventually went into extra innings. LG pulled off the win in the bottom of the 10th when right fielder Lee Jin-Young came to the plate with 1 out and runners on first and second. Lee hit a walk-off single up the middle for the win. The other story in this game is Lee Byeong-Kyu's hitting streak. Lee went 4 for 4 tonight and has now hit safely in 9 consecutive at bats, including hitting for the cycle on Friday. 9 consecutive hits ties the all-time record set by SK's Kim Min-Jae in 2004. If Lee gets a hit in his next at bat he will break the record. Also of note, LG catcher Hyun Jae-Yun was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the 2nd. Hyun broke his hand and will be out for several weeks.

Lee Jin-Young's walk-off single

Nexen 3 - Lotte 1, Seoul (Mokdong) [Box Score] [Video Highlights]

Nexen scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st off of a walk and 3 singles. After giving up the runs in the 1st, Lotte starter Chris Oxspring settled down and only allowed 2 hits and no runs in the next 6 innings, but Lotte's offense was nowhere to be found tonight. The Giants would not score until the top of the 8th on an RBI single by Jeon Jun-Woo. Park Byung-Ho added a solo homerun in the bottom of the 8th to give us the final score of 3-1. The win went to Brandon Knight who went 7 innings while allowing just 3 hits and no runs. The loss went to Oxspring.

One of the most unusual plays I've seen this year happened in the top of the 8th when a ground ball got stuck in Nexen relief pitcher Han Hyun-Hee's glove. Solution? Throw your glove to first base. You may remember a very similar play in MLB back in 1999.

SK 9 - Samsung 3, Daegu [Box Score] [Video Highlights]

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2013 KBO All-Star Game Information and Schedule

Jul
09

Here is an update with some information about the upcoming KBO All-Star game and other events to take place that weekend.

Here is a full schedule of events:

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Samsung and Nexen Playoff Chances: 100%

Jul
09

Alright, I know this is a bit of a sensational headline. There is a lot of season left, and it is very much mathematically possible for both teams not to make the playoffs, however this is the actual title of an article at OSEN where they discuss the trend of teams who win early in the season and their success in making the playoffs. There are some interesting historical numbers here. See below for the translation.

Samsung and Nexen Playoff Chances: 100%

On Sunday July 7th, Samsung and Nexen both recorded their 40th win of the season. Samsung’s record of 40-26-2 gives them a winning percentage of 0.606 and puts them in first place. Nexen stands at 40-29-1 with a winning percentage of 0.580 1.5 games behind Samsung in second place. Samsung did it in 68 games and Nexen in 70, but they both reached 40 wins on the same day and have reserved their tickets to the playoffs.

Being the first team to reach 40 wins is a major milestone, much more important than 20 or 30 wins. The chances of falling out of the playoff picture at this point are much lower, and history shows us that this is true.

Since 1982 the first team to reach 20 wins has failed to reach the playoffs three times, the 1983 Sammi Superstars, the 1999 LG Twins, and the 2012 Nexen Heroes. There has been one team that was the first to reach 30 wins that has failed to make the playoffs, the 2011 LG Twins. However, in 32 years of Korean Professional Baseball, the first team to reach 40 wins has never been left out of the playoffs.

Of the 32 teams that reached 40 wins first, 27 of them have reached the Korean Series, and 16 of them have won it. Historically, teams that reach 40 wins first have a 50% chance of winning the Korean Series. It is even more the case if we look at recent history. From 2005 to 2012, all 8 teams to reach 40 wins first have made the Korean Series, and only one team has failed to win it, the 2009 SK Wyverns.

For Samsung, it is the 10th time in team history that they have reached 40 wins first. Of those 10 times, they have won the Korean Series championship 5 times in 1985, 2005, 2006, 2011, and 2012. Since the Nexen team was founded in 2008 this is their first time to reach 40 wins first, but if we look at their predecessor the Hyundai Unicorns they reached 40 wins first 3 times in 1996, 1998, and 2000. They reached the Korean Series all 3 times, and won the championship twice.

But this year may be different. There isn’t much separating the top teams in the league. In the past 10 years, when a team has first reached 40 wins, the average gap between 1st place and 5th place has been 9 games. This year KIA is in 5th place and only 4.5 games behind Samsung and 3 games behind Nexen. Since there isn’t much separation, there is a greater than usual chance that the 40 win rule will not hold true this year.

Two teams reaching 40 wins on the same day has only happened once before. In 1990 the Binggrae Eagles and Samsung Lions both reached 40 wins on July 25. Binggrae did it in 68 games while it took Samsung 73 games. Both teams made the playoffs with Binggrae finishing 3rd and Samsung finishing 4th. Samsung beat Binggrae in the first round of the playoffs and went on to beat the Haitai Tigers in the second round to punch their ticket to the Korean Series. However, the Lions were swept in 4 games by the 1990 champion LG Twins.

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Foreign Players Giving Teams Headaches

Jul
09

An article at Sportsworld discusses the subject of poor foreign pitcher performance this season. Here is a translation, followed by comments below.

Foreign Players Giving Teams Headaches

In the fight for pro baseball league standings, a new variable has emerged. Foreign players are expected to make a considerable contribution to teams’ success. However, many teams are beginning to suffer due to poor mercenary performance.

The team with the biggest worries is Doosan. Dustin Nippert is meeting expectations as the team ace, but left-hander Garrett Olson has suffered from injuries. His recovery has been sluggish and he has not shown one solid performance this season. He has a record of 1 win – 1 loss after appearing in 9 games this season, with an ERA of 6.38. Above all, his inability to stay in games past the 5th inning has hurt the team. The Olson situation is one of the reasons that Doosan has not been able to reach the upper half of the league standings.

League-leading Samsung is also worrying about their mercenaries. So far Rick VandenHurk and Aneury Rodriguez only have 6 wins between them. After complaining of elbow pain on July 4th, Rodrugiez has been sent to the minors. Last year Mitch Talbot and Brian Gordon combined for 25 wins, but it seems unlikely that Samsung’s current crop of foreigners will come anywhere near that total. This year KIA entrusted their closing duties to Anthony Lerew. He racked up 20 saves, good enough for second in the league, but he has recently experienced a major slump. Manager Sun Dong-Yeol was forced to send him to the minors.

SK’s duo of Chris Seddon and Jo-Jo Reyes pitched very well at the beginning of the season, but recently both have been faltering. Seddon has 7 wins, 5 losses and an ERA of 2.50 which seem like good enough numbers, but his last few starts have been worrying, including giving up 5 runs in 6 innings against KIA on July 2. Reyes has 6 wins, 8 losses, and an ERA of 4.39. Reyes has been inconsistent, with some good starts combined with some very bad ones.

Last year Brandon Knight and Andy Van Hekken were pillars of the Nexen team. Knight finished 2012 with 16 wins, 4 losses, and an ERA of 2.20. So far this year Knight is 5-6 with an ERA of 4.42. Van Hekken has started 6 games since June 1st, with poor results of 1 win, 3 losses and and ERA of 8.16 in this time period. LG lefty Ben Jukich has not performed well, spending some time in the minors. Hanwha’s Dana Eveland and Denny Bautista have also been unable to meet expectations.

At least there are 2 teams that seem to be happy with their mercenary pitchers, Lotte and NC. Lotte’s Shane Youman looks about the same as last year, and late addition Chris Oxspring has pitched very well, allowing their team to reach 4th place. NC’s mercenary trio of Charlie Shirek, Adam Wilk, and Eric Hacker have given NC a strong starting rotation.

A few comments:

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All-Star Voting Closes

Jul
08

Voting for the 2013 KBO All-Star game wrapped up yesterday. Online fan voting will determine the starters for the game, while team managers will be responsible for choosing the reserves. Below is a list of the players with the most votes. See if you notice anything strange.

Western     Eastern  
Radhames Liz LG Start P Yoon Sung-Hwan Samsung
Bong Jung-Keun LG Rel P Oh Seung-Hwan Samsung
Hyun Jae-Yun LG C Kang Min-Ho Lotte
Kim Yong-Ui LG 1B Lee Seung-Yeop Samsung
Son Joo-In LG 2B Jeong Keun-Woo SK
Jeong Seong-Hoon LG 3B Choi Jeong SK
Oh Ji-Hwan LG SS Shin Bon-Ki Lotte
Park Yong-Taik LG OF Kim Hyun-Soo Doosan
Jeong Ui-Yoon LG OF Jeon Jun-Woo Lotte
Lee Byeong-Kyu LG OF Son Ah-Seop Lotte
Lee Jin-Young LG DH Kim Dae-Woo Lotte

The LG Twins swept all 11 spots on the Western team lineup. LG has performed unexpectedly well so far this season, and this seems to have revived their fan base. LG certainly has some deserving players, but all 11 spots? That's a bit much. This phenomenon is nothing new in Korea. The Lotte Giants had 11 starters last year, and have traditionally received a lot of votes. It seems that many Korean fans simply log in and vote for everyone on their favorite team. It's really too bad that the voting always seems to turn out this way. It may simply be unavoidable in a league with such a small number of teams, but it definitely takes a lot of meaning out of being named on all-star. Thankfully, the managers will select the remaining deserving players as reserves.

I would love to see the league do something to tackle this problem, but I'm not sure that they have any interest in doing so. Getting fans to come back to the website every day to vote may be exactly what they want, but here are some ideas that I've come up with.

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