After a whirlwind first half, professional baseball returns from the All-Star break and begins the second half on July 21. With 323 games remaining, only 4.5 games separate fourth through ninth place, making the race for the postseason even more intense.
From the beginning of the second half of the season, big matches are set to take place, attracting the attention of baseball fans. The Doosan Bears, who finished the first half on a nine-game winning streak, will take on the sixth-place KIA Tigers, who have won their last six games, while the leading LG Twins will face the second-place SSG Landers, who are 2.5 games behind. The outcome of the first three games of the second half could make all the difference.
July’s most popular Doosan-Kia head-on collision
Doosan and Kia, who had the steepest climb in the first half of the season, will meet at Kia Champions Field in Gwangju on April 21-23.
If Doosan catches Kia and builds on its win total, it can secure third place. On the other hand, KIA, which jumped from ninth to sixth in the first half of the season, can close the gap to Doosan to 1.5 games and move up the standings with a sweep.
As this is a must-win game, both teams will be pulling out all the stops, including pulling out their 1-3 starters. Doosan, who have stabilized their starting lineup, will start Raul Alcantara, Kwak Bin, and Brandon Waddell, while KIA, who have reshuffled their lineup with two foreign pitchers, will start Yang Hyun-jong, Mario Sanchez, and Thomas Pannoni.
Doosan leads the season series 6-3 over KIA. However, in the most recent three-game series in June, KIA won 2-1.
Currently, both teams have stabilized their pitching. Doosan leads the league in both team ERA (1.76) and batting average (0.299) in July, while KIA is second in those categories (2.14 ERA and 0.287 batting average), making for an interesting matchup.
In the three-game series, Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop, a “rookie” manager, will be looking to break his own record. If Doosan wins the first two games of the second half, Lee will break the KBO record of 10 consecutive wins in a debut season set by former LG manager Chun Bo-sung in 1997.
LG, SSG solidify their dominance
After finishing first in the first half for the first time in 26 years since 1997, LG is looking to solidify its dominance. If LG can win two or three of the first three games of the second half against SSG at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, the gap between the two teams will be 4.5 to 5.5 games.
LG slumped to a 3-4 record in July, but maintained its lead with consistently good performances in April (15-11), May (16-1) and June (15-1). After reclaiming the top spot on June 27, they held it for over two weeks.
Of course, it could be a crisis. If LG suffers a losing series, the race for first place will be very close. Especially if LG, which is on a two-game losing streak, manages to sweep the three-game series, the first and second places will be switched. LG has suffered sweeps against KIA on April 28-30 and NC Dinos on June 2-4 this season.
SSG, which went 2-5 in July, has its work cut out for it in a three-game series against LG. They need to distance themselves from third-place Doosan, let alone take the lead. SSG is four games behind Doosan, and if they drop the three-game series against LG, their second-place position will be in jeopardy.
In the head-to-head this season, LG leads the series 6-2, including winning all three games of the three-game series against SSG.
Fifth place in jeopardy, Lotte looks to rebound from ‘seven-game losing streak’ against Kiwoom
The Lotte Giants finished in the top five in the first half of the season for the first time since 2015, when the league became a 10-team system. However, the finish was not good. Back-to-back losses to NC in the final two games of the first half dropped them to fifth place, and their 5 percent win rate was broken in about three months.
Lotte, which was in the top three at the beginning of the season, went downhill sharply from June, and now its fifth-place position is in jeopardy, leaving it unsure of its fall baseball future. They are one game behind sixth-place KIA and 3.5 games behind ninth-place Kiwoom Heroes.
Lotte starts the second half with a three-game series against Kiwoom and Sajik. While Kiwoom is mired in a seven-game losing streak due to poor hitting, things aren’t looking good for Lotte, whose mound has collapsed. Lotte has given up double-digit runs three times in four games since the LG Electronics Series on Aug. 8.
Lotte was swept by KIA in the first three-game series of the second half of last year. In the final game of the three-game series, they were humiliated by a 0-23 loss, the most runs allowed in a single game in their history.
Needing a rebound, can Lotte avoid a repeat of their nightmare from a year ago in the first three games of the second half of the year and defend their fifth place finish?
Fourth-place NC opens the second half with a three-game series in Daejeon against the eighth-place Hanwha Eagles, 토토사이트 while seventh-place KT Wiz begins a three-game series in Daegu against the last-place Samsung Lions.