KT Wiz on top of KBO standings

Lee Dae-ho of the Lotte Giants, fourth from left, celebrates after defeating the LG Twins 7-1 in his team’s Korea Baseball Organization League game at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan, Sunday. / Yonhap

LG, Kia, Lotte hold share of 2nd spot

By Baek Byung-yeul

The KT Wiz are translating their spring exhibition league success into the regular season.

The cellar-dwelling team in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) League for the past two seasons finished first in the standings after taking four wins and one loss last week.

Each of the 10 KBO teams played five games as rain canceled the Wednesday games in five ball parks. After going one win and one loss against the reigning champion Doosan Bears early last week, the Wiz swept another three-game series with the Samsung Lions at Suwon KT Wiz Park last weekend.

When the Wiz topped the spring exhibition league with seven wins, one tie and three losses, not many baseball fans would have thought the team would be sitting in first place in the early league standings. However, thanks to the pitchers with a team ERA of 1.00, the team now leads the league with seven wins and one loss in eight games.

During the eight games, the Wiz have kept the golden rule of winning baseball games — conceding less and scoring more. While winning seven games, its pitchers only allowed eight runs and the bullpen especially achieved more than expected, allowing no runs. This is why the Wiz can lead the league despite their poor batters who have recorded a team batting average of .209.

The team’s foreign starter Ryan Feierabend already took two wins. The left-hander especially claimed his first shutout in the KBO League on Sunday after striking out 11 while allowing no runs with four hits in nine innings for his team’s 3-0 victory. It was the second shutout in the franchise’s overall history.

Southpaw starting pitcher Jung Dae-hyun already took two wins, allowing no runs in 11 innings. American right-hander Donn Roach also has been in good shape, recording an ERA of 2.77 while throwing 13 innings in two games. Closer Kim Jae-yoon, who had 14 saves last season, already made three saves tossing 3.1 innings in four games.

The Wiz will have a three-game series with the fifth-place Nexen Heroes (three wins and five losses) at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul and another three-gamer with the second-place LG Twins (six wins and two losses) at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul this week.

‘Lee Dae-ho effect’ lifts Lotte into 2nd place

The Lotte Giants share second-place with the Kia Tigers and the Twins after going six wins and two losses.

While the Wiz won seven games thanks to their pitchers, the Giants owe much to their batters. During the eight games, the team’s batters scored the most runs with 56 and the most homeruns with 17, recording the highest batting average (.303), on-base percentage (.371) and slugging percentage (.561).

The team’s great offense is mostly in part due to the rejoining of former KBO MVP Lee Dae-ho as the 34-year-old slugger has made 13 hits including one double and three homers with six RBIs and seven runs in 28 at bats.

The Giants will have a three-game series with the SK Wyverns during the week and another series with the Lions this weekend.

After taking four losses last week, the reigning champion Bears ranked fifth with the NC Dinos, Hanwha Eagles and the Heroes. After having a three-game series with the Tigers in Seoul starting Tuesday, the Bears play an away series with the Dinos in Changwon beginning Friday.

After desperately losing six games since the opening game on March 31, the Wyverns claimed two wins against the Giants last weekend. After their three-game series with the Giants, the Wyverns will clash with the Eagles in Daejeon starting Friday.

Before a three-game series with the Giants this weekend, the cellar-dwelling Lions will play a three game-series with the Eagles at Daegu Samsung Lions Park starting Tuesday.

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