Recapping Day 29 of the KBO

All you need to know from Day 29 of KBO action.

Like Friday, Saturday’s KBO contests gave us four close games and another walloping from the first place NC Dinos to the last place Hanwha Eagles. The 14-2 drubbing was the 13th consecutive loss for the Eagles, who recently demoted four coaches to the second league and didn’t even immediately replace them. Meanwhile, the other four games were decided by five runs total and offense was spread around like a suburban dad wearing knee socks as he carefully seeds his lawn. Saturday was also a tough go for umpires, where the home plate ump for the Bears-Tigers game had the misfortune of re-enacting Hans Moleman’s entry to the Springfield Film Festival:

Miss some of the action from last night? Click on the links below to watch!

Kiwoom Heroes: 5, LG Twins: 4

SK Wyverns: 6, Samsung Lions, 4

Lotte Giants: 1, KT Wiz: 0

Doosan Bears: 4, Kia Tigers: 3

NC Dinos: 14, Hanwha Eagles: 2

Let’s take a look at the top performers from the day, brought to you by Tim Jackson and Jai Correa.


Best Hitters


Ryu Ji-hyeok (3B, Doosan Bears): 2-3, 2B, 2 R, RBI. Ryu’s line may have been the most electric in the tight-knit game with Kiwoom last night, and it was particularly notable for how he made it happen. His bat has underwhelmed through his four seasons as a full-timer as he’s only reached 20 extra-base hits once and has never topped three homers. But last night Ryu stroked a double to left-center in the ninth inning and ended up scoring the winning run. It was his first double of the year.

Nam Tae-hyuk (DH, SK Wyvern): 1-2, HR, R, RBI, 2 BB. Nam Tae-hyuk does not much wood chop. The 29-year-old is in his fifth season in the KBO but has never topped 31 games played. Saturday’s game was already his 15th of the year and he clubbed his first homer of 2020 (and third for his career) in the second inning, helping the club jump out to an early lead it wouldn’t relinquish. His two walks also doubled his season total. Nam was one of three players to register two walks in last night’s contest between SK and Samsung.

Lee Jung-hoo (OF, Kiwoom Heroes): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, RBI. The 21-year-old continues to grow into his power, socking his 12th double and fifth homer of 2020 in Saturday’s games and bringing his extra-base hit total to 18 through just 29 games. In his three previous seasons, Lee hit 39, 42, and 47 extra-base hits. He’s hitting .359 with an OPS over 1.000 for the season. Lee’s homer in the eighth inning helped trimmed the Twins lead to one before his Kiwoom teammates sealed the come-from-behind victory in the ninth.

Kim Hye-sung (SS, Kiwoom Heroes): 2-3, R, BB, SB. Not the sauciest line you could imagine, but one that worms its way through the game to make an impact. Kim isn’t exactly a thumper but he’s stolen at least 20 bases in each of his first two full seasons in the KBO. His swipe on Saturday was just his third of the season, so our guy might have to get to it if he wants to match that rate for the third year in a row.

Kang Jin-sung (1B, NC Dinos): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Kang put up a beefy line on Saturday, which makes it the same as every other day ending in “y” for the first baseman this year. He’s now batting a cartoonish .459/.542/.885 through 25 games. His homer and double on Saturday were each his seventh of the season and both came before the end of the fifth inning, helping the Dinos stake out to an 8-0 lead that would only get embiggened by more firepower in the ninth.

No Jin-Hyuk (SS, NC Dinos): 2-5, HR, R, 3 RBI. Like his teammate Kang, No’s damage came in the first half of the game. His dinger was a 410-foot moonshot in the fourth — his fifth of the year — and was an emphatic moment in the blowout. His average for 2020 is now up to .318 and his OPS is over .900. He and Kang were the only NC players to register multiple hits in yesterday’s shellacking of Hanwha. These Dino boys just do not care about pitchers’ feelings. I wonder if they use that old Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine commercial as inspiration.

Choi Jin-haeng (LF, Hanwha Eagles): 2-4, HR, R, RBI. Let’s use this space to give some love to Choi, as the 15-year veteran is clearly in the twilight of his career and has only gotten into five games this season. He registered just four hits through four games before Saturday. His homer was his second of the year but came in the eighth when the team was already down 8-1. Check out a gif below, with multiple angles of the sweet swing.

—Tim Jackson

Best Pitchers


Bae Je-seong (KT Wiz): 8 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 4 K: Before his last start, Bae was right there with Koo Chang-mo for the ERA title in the KBO. Though, that last start was brutal as he gave up six earned runs over five innings. However, in a superb rebound performance, Bae pitched eight shutout innings in this one, unfortunately resulting in a walk-off loss. While Bae has been dominant at times, his walk totals are a point of concern as he’s now walked at least three men in each of his past three outings. To bring down his current 2.11 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, Bae will need to keep the free passes to a minimum.

Dan Straily (Lotte Giants): 7 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 6 K: Straily has entered a groove. After giving up five earned runs against the Tigers, Straily has now allowed only one earned run over his past 18 1/3 innings. Using his slider and curveball, Straily kept the Wiz hitters at bay while getting his season strikeout total to 43 – now second behind the next man on our recap.

Koo Chang-mo (NC Dinos): 6 IP, 1 ER, 8 H, 0 BB, 6 K. He’s just too good. In six starts this season, Koo has allowed one run or fewer. The eight hits were an eyesore – he allowed only 12 in his previous five starts. But can we really complain about another fantastic start, one that resulted in another blowout of the Eagles? Koo continues to raise the bar of expectation and all we can do is follow in amazement.

Tyler Wilson (LG Twins): 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 6 K. The former Baltimore Oriole has pitched better than the 4.29 ERA and 1.15 WHIP he’s posted this year. Two blowup starts are the reason for the inflated statistics, seven earned runs given up in his first start and four earned runs in his last. In this showing, Wilson was able to attain the second-highest number of strikeouts he’s had in an outing this season while keeping the third highest-scoring offense to a measly two runs. While the poor showings still count, the majority have been good, and we should expect more of those going forward.

Sunday’s Key Matchup

Odrisamer Despaigne (KT Wiz) vs Park Se-woong (Lotte Giants): The slate for Sunday does not have your best pitchers, but Despaigne will take the ball for the Wiz – that’s worth a watch. Despaigne was absolutely massacred in his last outing, conceding 15 hits and 10 runs in five innings against the Bears. However, since Despaigne’s given up three earned runs or fewer in his other starts, we should expect a good showing here. Park will pitch for the Giants, and he’s been roughed up to a 6.38 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in 2020. The young right-hander has had an issue with home runs recently, allowing two in each of his past couple of starts, while pairing a paltry 17 strikeouts with 11 walks on the season – not a recipe for success. Against one of the top offenses in the Wiz, I wouldn’t bet on a good performance here but who knows, it’s baseball.

⁠— Jai Correa 

Alex Fast

An FSWA award winner for Research Article of the Year, Alex is the co-host of On The Corner and host of the weekend edition of First Pitch. He received his masters in interactive telecommunications from NYU's ITP. All opinions are Alex's and Alex's alone. A die-hard Orioles fan, Alex is well versed in futility and broken pitching prospects.

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