Friday’s KBO action had a little bit of everything baseball fans, featuring late rallies and a shocking come-from-behind walk-off win! Comeback bids by the Hanwha Eagles and Kia Tigers were snuffed out by the SK Wyverns and LG Twins, respectively, but the Samsung Lions stole the headline for the game of the day. Entering the ninth inning against the 17-3 NC Dinos, the 8-13 Lions trailed 4-3 before miraculously scoring on an RBI groundout and walk-off liner into the gap to head into the weekend as winners!
Miss some of the action from last night? Click on the links below to watch!
Let’s take a look at the top performers from the day, brought to you by Nick Bucher and Jai Correa:
Choi Hyung-woo (DH, Kia Tigers): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Kia’s designated hitter apparently missed the memo that the team was going to get dominated by LG’s pitchers in Friday’s game. In a performance where the Tigers scored just those two runs, Choi hit one off of LG Twins’ starter Cha Woo-chan and later hit another off of reliever Kim Dae-hyuh. The cleanup hitter doubled his season total for home runs in the losing effort.
Roberto Ramos (1B, LG Twins): 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBI. Roberto Ramos helped power the Twins’ offense on Friday and picked up his tenth homer of the season. Ramos had been raking coming into this one, and with a runner on base when he was hitting in the 4th, he blasted a 410-foot bomb to center field to give the Twins a lead they would never relinquish. With the Dinos’ loss on Friday, the Twins now have the longest win streak going in the league, and Ramos is a huge part of how they’re doing it.
No Jin-hyuk (SS, NC Dinos): 3-4, R, RBI. No was an easy choice as a hitter to highlight, as he was the only player on the Dinos to manage more than one hit in Friday’s loss. After picking up two hits on Thursday as well, the 30-year-old suddenly is swinging a hot bat, and if he continues racking up multi-hit games, he may well start seeing his name higher in the lineup.
Hur Kyoung-min (3B, Doosan Bears): 2-2 HR, 2R, RBI, BB, SB. Like most fantasy baseball players, I covet one meal as the gold standard, and that would be the “combo meal” Hur’s game Friday was about as complete as a hitter could be, as he drew a base on balls, homered, and even had another hit before chipping in a theft on the basepaths. Balanced efforts stuffing the stat sheet always deserve to be appreciated, and Hur had to be happier than anyone about his performance Friday, as he had gone hitless in both Wednesday and Thursday’s action.
Kim Joon-tae (C, Lotte Giants): 2-3, 2B, 2 R, BB. Lotte had to be extremely frustrated with how Friday turned out, as the Giants doubled up the Bears in the hit column (10-5) but lost the game 4-2. Kim did all he could at the plate for the Giants, recording multiple hits and drawing a walk, while scoring both of their runs. The catcher is not known for his offensive prowess, and in fact, he entered Friday with just 2 hits all season in 21 at-bats. Any time you double your season output in hits, you deserve a little recognition!
Tyler Saladino (1B/OF, Samsung Lions): 2-4, R. In a 5-4 win Friday for the Lions, Saladino earns a mention by being the only member of the team to reach base multiple times. The versatile former MLB player saw time both at first base and in left field and was integral to the Lions’ rally in the 9th inning of this one when he scored the tying run on Kim Eung-min’s RBI groundout minutes before the Lions walked it off one batter later.
Bae Jeong-dae (OF, KT Wiz): 4-4, 2B. When your leadoff hitter goes a perfect 4-4 on the day, and you still only score a single run, it’s just not your day. Bae was seeing the ball well Friday night, knocking three singles and a double, but couldn’t make it around to score any of those times in a game that the Wiz ultimately lost 5-1. On the positive side, the 24-year-old Bae raised his average up over .400 and is playing at a high level.
Lee Jung-hoo (OF, Kiwoom Heroes): 2-4, 2B, 2 R, BB. On the other end of this one, Lee helped power the Heroes to the win Friday, with two hits of his own and a walk. Lee came around to score two runs in this one and his 7th inning double to right field to lead off the 7th inning kick-started a rally that ultimately scored 3 runs and put away a game that had been a slim 2-1 lead. Lee now boasts a modest three-game hitting streak going into Saturday’s action.
Jung Jin-ho (OF, Hanwha Eagles): 4-5, R, 2 RBI, SB. The Eagles couldn’t finish off their late bid for a comeback win on Friday, but Jung was a force for the offense in making it close. The outfielder racked up four hits in this one, none larger than his RBI single in the 9th inning. Jung then stole second base and came around to score himself. Hopefully, this starts a hot streak for the 31-year-old, as he entered Friday slashing a meager .260/.316/.274.
Noh Soo-kwang (OF, SK Wyverns): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB. Noh was one of four SK hitters to pick up two hits Friday, and his three times reaching base led the team. The leadoff hitter put together a very balanced performance in this one, with the highlight being his first home run of the season being hit in the fourth inning. He was a nuisance for the Eagle’s pitchers all game, as he singled and scored during a separate rally in the third inning, and worked a walk in the eighth inning as well.
Eric Jokisch (Kiwoom Heroes): 7 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 9 K, 1 BB. Another day, another dominant outing for Jokisch. Even though the Heroes committed two errors, one resulting in a run, the left-hander relied on nine strikeouts and ten groundouts to weave his way through a shaky effort by the defensive unit behind him. Jokisch now owns a 0.90 ERA and 0.87 WHIP with a 19.5% difference between strikeouts and walks (K-BB), giving the Dinos’ Koo Chang-mo a run for his money as the most dominant starter in the league.
Drew Rucinski (NC Dinos): 7 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 7 K, 0 BB. Rucinski followed up his last eight-inning nine strikeout masterpiece with another impressive showing against the Lions. If we deconstruct this outing, however, we see antonymous performances. Through the first six innings, Rucinski only faced one batter over the minimum while striking out seven. Then in the seventh, the former Miami Marlin allowed five hits and surrendered three runs – one of them unearned via an error. At the time the Dinos still had a 4-3 lead, though a ninth-inning blowup by closer Won Jong-hyun resulted in a loss. Rucinski will take a 2.51 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 17.3% K-BB into his next outing.
Cha Woo-chan (LG Twins): 6 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 5 K, 0 BB. Entering tonight’s game, Cha had a 6.00 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 21 innings, just speaking to how good, and much needed, this performance was from the Twins’ southpaw. Despite facing the fourth lowest-scoring offense in the Tigers, Cha was impressive, recording five strikeouts and eight groundouts, cruising through his six innings. The veteran was able to lower his season totals to a 5.00 ERA and 1.41 WHIP.
Aaron Brooks (Kia Tigers): 6 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 3 K, 2 BB. Brooks was on the other side in this outing, suffering a tough-luck loss as he limited the fourth highest-scoring offense in the Twins to only two earned runs over six innings. By Brooks’ impressive standards so far, this outing had mixed reviews. On the positive end, Brooks was able to generate 11 groundouts, continuing to keep the ball on the ground at an impressive clip. The negatives were that Brooks surrendered his second home run of the season, garnered the fewest strikeouts in any of his outings this season – even though this slider was filthy – and walked two men after only walking three in his four prior starts combined. With a 3.23 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, look for Brooks to right his wrongs in this start next time out.
Saturday’s Key Matchup
Lim Chang-gyu (LG Twins) vs Lee Min-woo (Kia Tigers): The Twins increased their lead to 4.5 games in the standings over the Tigers after Friday’s contest. To cut that lead and keep the Heroes behind them, the Tigers will send out Lee Min-woo. Lee has come back around after two poor outings to start the year, allowing only three earned runs over his past 13 innings with eight strikeouts. On the season, the right-hander has also allowed nine walks, so Lee needs to keep the free passes to a minimum against a good Twins offense for success. For the Twins, Lim has had the exact opposite run in his three starts, allowing eight earned runs over 12 innings in his last two starts after giving up only one earned run over six in his season debut. However, Lim has a dominant 21 strikeout to two walk ratio over 18 innings on the year – against a lowly Tigers offense, look for more of the same.
— Jai Correa