Unexpected 3-game losing streak…KT, pressure ‘skyrockets’ ahead of 6-game home stand against ‘top-ranked’ LG+SSG

KT Wiz’s seemingly unstoppable run has come to a halt. An unexpected three-game losing streak put a yellow light on second-place Suwon.스포츠토토

KT fell into a three-game losing streak after losing all three games of the weekend series against the Kiwoom Heroes of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on March 1-3. Their season record now stands at 63 wins, 2 draws, and 50 losses (0.558).

The gap between second-place KT and third-place SSG remains at two games as SSG Landers suffered a sweep against the KIA Tigers, but KT missed an opportunity to go even further. In addition, fourth-place KIA, which has won a whopping eight games in a row heading into a three-game series against SSG, has closed the gap to 1.5 games on SSG and 3.5 on KT, threatening the top teams. Just because SSG hasn’t been able to catch up doesn’t mean they can rest easy.

In the three-game series against Kiwoom, KT started “ace” Ko Young-pyo, followed by Choi Bye-seong and “alternate starter” Kim Min-woo. William Cuevas could have made one appearance in the rotation, but KT manager Lee Kang-cheol adjusted the rotation based on a number of factors, including Cuevas’ fitness and the upcoming six-game home stand this week against the LG Twins and SSG.

But something went wrong in the first game of the series. Ko Young-pyo gave up two runs in the top of the first inning and then collapsed, giving up four runs in the bottom of the inning, including a three-run shot by Lim Byung-wook. He had given up more than six runs in only one other game this season, on May 18 against Jamsil LG Electronics.

The bats were also silent. After scoring just one run off Kiwoom starter Jang Jae-young, they were unable to close the gap further against the bullpen of Yoon Seok-won, Park Seung-joo, Moon Sung-hyun and Kim Jae-woong. On top of that, Lee Ho-yeon, who had become a starter, was hit in the elbow by Jang Jae-young’s pitch and had to be removed from the lineup for Games 2 and 3.

The trend continued the next day. After drawing a bases-loaded walk in the top of the first inning, Lee gave up a run on a sacrifice fly by Song Sung-moon and an RBI single by Lee Ju-hyung in the bottom of the inning. His final line was five innings, five hits, four walks, four strikeouts and three runs. After nine innings and three hits, the offense went scoreless and had to face the consequences of an 0-3 record.

Even considering the starting matchup of Kim and Ariel Furado, the final game of the series was more one-sided than the previous two. After Kim, who was given the opportunity to start in place of Uhm Sang-baek, who was sidelined with a microfracture in his ribs, left the mound early after giving up six runs (five earned) on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts in three innings, Jo Jo-hyun minimized the damage with three innings of five hits and one walk with two strikeouts. However, the team was unable to find a breakthrough, as Hurado was pulled for a no-hitter with two outs in the top of the seventh. After accepting the result of 0-7, KT was unable to avoid a second consecutive shutout.

In baseball, players and teams go through cycles. There are good times and bad times, and the players and teams that are able to overcome those times are the ones that come out on top. KT, which has been on an upswing for nearly two months, can avoid a prolonged slump if it handles the current crisis wisely.

In the end, the outcome of this week’s six-game home stand against LG-SSG is the most important thing right now. LG will have some of their most reliable pitchers on the mound, including William Cuevas, Wes Benjamin, and Young-pyo Go. It will be interesting to see if KT can close out the six-game series on a high note, as they want to bring home as many wins as possible.

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