Na Kyun-ahn (25-Los Angeles Giants) was in MVP mode in April. However, it was a bitter pill to swallow as the Giants were unable to break their losing streak.
On the 27th, he started against the KT Wiz in the ‘2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League’ at Sajik Stadium.
On this day, Na did his best against a KT lineup consisting of Kim Min-hyuk (designated hitter), Ahn Chi-young (right fielder), Hwang Jae-gyun 온라인바카라(third baseman), Jang Sung-woo (catcher), Anthony Alford (left fielder), Oh Yoon-seok (first baseman), Shin Bon-ki (shortstop), Park Kyung-soo (second baseman), and Bae Jeong-dae (center fielder).
Na Kyun-ahn dominated the KT lineup with his perfect pitching from the beginning of the game ⓒLotte Giants
He dominated the KT batters from the beginning of the game with a powerful four-seam fastball in the mid-to-high 140 kilometers per hour. Ahn Chi-young, Hwang Jae-gyun, Shin Bon-ki, and Park Kyung-soo all struck out to start the inning.
Na Gyun-an continued to pitch well, but he was shaky at times. With two outs in the top of the third, he gave up a double to Ahn Chi-young through the left-center gap to put runners in scoring position. He then gave up an RBI single to Hwang Jae-gyun, giving them a 1-0 lead.
The top of the fourth inning was more of the same. After giving up a triple to Oh Yoon-seok to center field, he gave up a sacrifice fly to Shin Bon-ki to make it 0-2.
Na Gyun-an settled down after that and cooked the KT bats until the middle of the game. He allowed just one hit in the first three innings of the fifth through seventh, and he stayed on the mound until the seventh, striking out both Park Kyung-soo and Choi Byeong-dae with one out in the top of the seventh. The final score was 7 innings, 6 hits, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts, and 2 runs. Despite the perfect game, the team fell to 1-2 and Na suffered his sixth loss of the season.
He pitched a perfect game reminiscent of his MVP mode in April. ⓒLotte Giants
As the season progressed, Na’s pitching became increasingly shaky. In April, he won four games in five appearances with a 1.34 ERA in 33⅔ innings, earning his first monthly MVP award. In May, he stayed on track with a 5-1 record and a 3.62 ERA in 27⅓ innings, but faltered with a 5.32 ERA in June (22 innings) and a 6.23 ERA in July (13 innings). To make matters worse, he was sidelined for a while with a hamstring injury.
In this situation, Na’s performance was reminiscent of April, when he won the monthly MVP award. However, the team’s offense couldn’t help the struggling pitcher. In nine innings of work, he scattered six hits and drew one walk, but only managed to score one run.
With the loss to KT, Lotte fell into a seven-game losing streak. They haven’t won since April 17. The team’s offense failed to produce in this game, as well as on other days when key starters like Charlie Barnes and Aaron Wilkerson were on the mound, leaving the starting pitchers to hang their heads in shame.
Lotte’s season record now stands at 50 wins and 58 losses. The spark of hope is dwindling as the team is now five games behind the fifth-place KIA Tigers (52 wins, 2 ties, 50 losses), which is the minimum to qualify for the postseason.
Lotte has now lost seven games in a row, casting a darker shadow over their postseason hopes. ⓒLotte Giants