It’s a rebellion of the last. Samsung and Kiwoom, two of the lowest-ranked teams in the Korean Baseball Organization, have made their presence felt in fall baseball.
The two teams went a combined 4-2 in the regular season of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League last week (Aug. 15-20) during the sweltering heat of the final stretch. This is behind KT, who jumped to second place with a steep 5-1 record.
This is noteworthy given that Samsung and Kiwoom are in 9th and 10th place. This could be a big factor in the end-of-season standings battle.
In particular, the two teams caught a bunch of teams in postseason (PS) contention last week. As a chili pepper unit, they are unlikely to break out.
Samsung swept a midweek series at home in Daegu against first-place LG. It was encouraging to see them win tight games against the top team, including 6-5 on the 15th and 4-2 on the 17th. Samsung then smiled in a three-game series at home against KIA over the weekend.
Sixth-ranked KIA took a winning series at home against Kiwoom in midweek, but couldn’t smile with a losing series against Samsung in a three-game series over the weekend. With fifth-ranked Doosan going 1-4 last week, KIA could have moved up in the standings but had to settle for a winless sixth place.
Most notably, Samsung closer Oh Seung-hwan picked up three saves in the last week alone to reach 390 saves in his KBO career (1st). With 500 career saves in the Korean Baseball Organization this season, Oh is just 10 saves shy of becoming the league’s first 400-save pitcher.
At the plate, Koo Ja-rook has been on fire. Last week, he batted 4-for-5 with three home runs and 11 RBIs in six games.
His on-base percentage was a whopping 9-for-1 last week, and he also hit two grand slams. He’s now 3-for-4 on the season and is on pace to win his first batting title. Guzauk has already led the team in runs scored (107) in 2021.
Last-place Kiwoom was also properly peppered this past weekend. After dropping a sweep to Kia, they welcomed seventh-ranked Lotte into the confines of the Gocheok SkyDome and swept the series.
In particular, Kiwoom came from behind to beat Lotte in all three games. On the 18th, they scored three runs in the eighth inning from a 2-4 deficit to secure a thrilling one-run victory. Coincidentally, transfer Lee Ju-hyung hit the game-winning three-pointer against Han Hyun-hee, who played for Kiwoom until last year.
Keeper Lim Chang-min was the patron saint of the Hero Legion, picking up four saves in the last week alone. This was in contrast to Lotte, who were swept in the back door.
Lotte swept SSG in a midweek home three-game series. They scored 32 runs in the three games. Joon-woo Jeon batted 4-for-5 with three home runs and eight RBIs 토토 last week, two of which came in the midweek three-game series, but they dropped all three games to Kiwoom. They lost the chance to close the gap on sixth-place KIA.
Samsung has seven games in hand on fifth-place Doosan, the fall baseball minimum, while Kiwoom has 8.5. With Samsung having played 106 games and Kiwoom having played 113, the chances of fall baseball are not great.
However, Samsung’s hopes aren’t completely lost, and they can still hope for a miracle if they keep up their momentum. Despite being in last place, Samsung is 6-4 in its last 10 games.
Kiwoom, who lost their homegrown ace Choi Won-tae to LG, has already called it quits for the season, so while this season is virtually over, they still need to rebound for next season. It remains to be seen if the bottom teams will be able to make their presence felt in the rest of the season.