It’s a crisis for the Lotte Giants. After battling with SSG and LG for the top spot in April and May, Lotte went downhill in June. Their June performance was the worst. It fell out of the top three and dropped to fourth place after 49 days.
Lotte faced the bottom two teams, KT and Samsung, back-to-back last week, and came away with a 1-5 record. Worst weekly performance.
Lotte suffered a three-game sweep at Anbang Sajik Stadium against KT. In particular, the game on the 7th was a painful 2-3 loss in 10 extra innings and the game on the 8th was a 6-7 loss in 12 extra innings.
Last weekend, the team traveled to Samsung in Daegu and lost 1 and 2 games. On the 11th at Samsung, Lotte broke a dramatic 3-3 tie with three consecutive hits in the top of the ninth inning with two outs.
In the top of the 10th inning of extra innings, they took a 4-3 lead on Han Dong-hee’s first career home run, but gave up a game-tying two-run shot to Kang Min-ho in the bottom of the 10th.
Lotte is last among the 10 clubs with a 3-7 record in June. KIA is tied for eighth place for the month with a 3-6 record and LG is tied for 10th with a 3-1 record.
The June slide drops Lotte to fourth place in the season standings with 30 wins and 24 losses, losing three spots to NC (31 wins and 24 losses). It’s the first time they’ve been in fourth place in 49 days since April 23.
They are four games behind first-place SSG (35 wins, 1 draw, 21 losses) and 2.5 games behind second-place LG (34 wins, 2 draws, 23 losses). They are two games behind fifth-place Doosan (28 wins, 1 draw, 26 losses).
The bullpen, which had been the backbone of the team at the beginning of the season, is overloaded. The bullpen has more chasers than winners. Koo Seung-min and Kim Won-joong are under a lot of pressure. That’s not to say that the starters can reliably deliver long innings.
The bullpen’s Kim Sang-soo and Kim Jin-wook were removed from the first team roster on July 7 to rest and adjust. Coincidentally, the team has played three extra innings without two key bullpen pieces. Kim Sang-soo and Kim Jin-wook will be eligible for the first team on the 17th against SSG.
Closer Kim Won-joong’s health is also a concern. After striking out the side in the eighth inning against Samsung Electronics on the 11th, Kim was pulled from the game in the ninth inning to face the first batter, Kim Tae-gun, due to back stiffness. If it’s a simple stiffness and he can get back to full strength with 12 days of rest, that’s fine, but if it’s a nagging injury and he has to take a few days off, that’s bad news. 안전놀이터
Lotte hosts last-place Hanwha at home midweek and travels to Incheon SSG on the weekend. After that, it’s a nine-game road trip to Suwon KT and Jamsil LG Electronics. A nine-game road trip against teams in first and second place, and a recently swept KT, could prove to be a test of fortune.
Meanwhile, Han Dong-hee, who was demoted to the second team due to his batting struggles, could return to the first team starting on the 15th against Hanwha. In six games in the Futures League, Han is 4-for-9 (22 RBI) with three doubles, one home run, a .480 on-base percentage, a .682 slugging percentage, and a 1.162 OPS.