Day five of the KBO is in the books! Three games were rained out — an early season pain that knows no geographical bounds — leaving just two matchups on the slate. The Kiwoom Heroes edged out the Hanwha Eagles while the Kia Tigers kept it close with the Samsung Lions for most of the game but were ultimately blown out.
Miss some of the action from last night? Click on the links below to watch!
Jung-hoo Lee (RF, Kiwoom Heroes): 1-3, HR, RBI, R, HBP. Lee did his damage in the seventh inning, bopping his second homer of the year. The 21-year-old is now in his fourth KBO season and had only hit 14 total homers in 393 games before this year. Lee was also hit by a pitch today and continued to demonstrate his keen eye at the plate — he’s yet to record a strikeout after whiffing only 6.3% of the time in 2019.
Byeong-wuk Lim (CF, Kiwoom Heroes): 1-2, 2 R, 2 BB, SB. Lim’s two walks today were his first free passes of the season, but are of interest. In the last two years his walk rate barely brushed five percent. His fifth inning steal was his first of the year, too, showing us he might be warming up.
Kwang-min Song (1B, Hanwha Eagles): 1-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, HBP. The veteran Song’s fourth inning home run was his first of the year and a positive sign after a 2019 season that saw him register single-digit dingers for the first time in a full season. A strong early showing could mean a lot for his season-long outlook.
Ju-suk Ha (SS, Hanwha Eagles): 2-4, 2B, RBI. Ha’s sixth inning tw0-bagger extended a mid-game Eagles lead. He was one of three players to register two hits in the game — all on the losing Eagles — and the only one to do so while registering extra bases.
Dong-yeop Kim (DH/LF, Samsung Lions): 2-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2B. Kim’s fifth inning, bases-loaded double was the go-ahead knock the Lions needed after being down 2-0. Though the game stayed close until the eighth, it was the catalyst for the win.
Sung-gyu Lee (1B, Samsung Lions): 2-3, 3 R, 3 RBI, 3B, BB, HBP. Lee hopes to play in as many games as possible this year and deliver on promise after only totaling 37 in his three previous seasons. An enormous game Saturday should help his cause. His eighth inning triple helped the Lions pour it on as they cruised to a big win.
Yong-hwan Baek (C, Kia Tigers): 1-3, HR, R, RBI. Baek’s third inning bomb put the Tigers up early. Not necessarily known for his power, Baek has already reached 50% of his 2019 home run total achieved in 28 games. A long way from his 2015 season, where he bopped the most homers of his career (10) in the second-most games played (65), Baek may have just had one of his best performances of the year.
Preston Tucker (RF, Kia Tigers): 1-2, RBI, 2 BB. The 29-year-old never saw things click while in MLB with Houston, Atlanta, or Cincinnati, but since going to the KBO last year his fortunes have turned. Tucker’s two walks last night were his first of the 2020 season, after registering 38 in 95 games last year. He was slotted in as the three-hole hitter for the last place Tigers and could continue to have opportunities to produce.
Kim Ee-whan (Hanwha Tigers): 5 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 3 K, 4 BB, 1 HB, 91 pitches. Kim was the stand out pitcher in Saturday’s slate, only giving up a run in the fifth and final inning of his outing. In most innings, Kim was able to avoid a runner or two on to get out of jams, though using up 91 pitches for only five innings is fairly inefficient. Look for Kim to use his pitches more effectively in his ensuing outings.
Han Hyun-hee (Kiwoom Heroes): 6 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 4 K, 1 BB, 1 HB, 100 pitches. Han was exclusively a reliever last year, so my initial thoughts were that he would end up being an ‘opener’ in this game – that was not the case. The Heroes’ starter weaved in and out of trouble, only allowing one run in three separate innings before he was removed in the sixth, giving a chance to the Heroes to eventually win the game. Despite my initial thoughts, it seems as though Han will be a starter for the rest of the season.
Won Tae-in (Samsung Lions): 5 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 2 K, 3 BB, 2 HB, 95 pitches. Before an eighth-inning explosion, the Lions’ matchup with the Tigers was a close contest. Won got the ball to start, where both of his earned runs came in the third inning. The third was trouble for Won, as he faced eight men in the inning including giving up a leadoff home run. Despite a lack of strikeouts, Won was able to effectively pitch his team to a win and that’s all that really matters.
Im Ki-young (Kia Tigers): 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 6 K, 1 BB, 2 HB, 90 pitches. Im was the counter to Won in the Lions and Tigers matchup, and he wasn’t nearly as effective as Won. Im breezed through his first four innings, only facing four over the minimum. However, Im was not able to get out of the fifth, giving up three runs on a bases-clearing double by Lions’ DH Kim Dong-yeop before Tigers’ reliever Ko Young-chang allowed Kim to score. The good news is that Im was able to get six strikeouts on the night, easily the most on the night for starting pitchers.
Tonight’s Key Matchup
Warwick Saupold (Hanwha Tigers) vs. Jake Brigham (Kiwoom Heroes): Saupold had a phenomenal 2020 debut on Monday, pitching a complete game shut out in a win over the SK Wyverns. With a 3.51 ERA and 1.27 WHIP from last season, Saupold is once again looking like a standout pitcher in the KBO. On the other side, Jake Brigham is looking to overcome a short 3.1 inning outing and closely resemble his 2.96 ERA over 158.1 innings last season.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)