스포츠토토The KBO standings are shaping up to be an epic battle. Every matchup is hard to predict.
Last week, the Doosan Bears and KIA Tigers, the roar of the bear and the tiger, shook the KBO. Doosan won eight straight games for the first time in five years and one month since June 2018. KIA also won all five games of their series against the league’s second-place SSG Landers and the returning KT Wiz.
The league remains a two-horse race between LG Twins (1st – 49 wins, 2 draws, 29 losses) and SSG (2nd – 46 wins, 1 draw, 31 losses). Doosan’s eight-game winning streak has moved them into third place, but they have five games in hand on second-place SSG.
It’s not like the top four is under threat just yet. However, both of these teams could be caught by the bottom teams at any time. SSG suffered their second straight loss to KIA last week. LG, which hasn’t lost back-to-back games this season, dropped games 1-2 in a three-game series against the currently ninth-ranked Hanwha Eagles early last month.
Teams in the middle and lower echelons of the league are also showing a trend of winning five or six games in a row and then suddenly going on a losing streak.
KT, which struggled with injuries to key players early in the season, has regained its form since June, improving its win-loss differential from minus-14 to minus-3. However, they have now lost four in a row. This is the third time since June that the team has won three or more games in a row and then lost three straight.
The same goes for the Kiwoom Heroes. The offence came alive after the return of their top hitter Lee Jung-hoo, and from the second to the last week of June (6 June to 1 July), they won 14 games, drew two and lost seven, posting the third-best overall winning percentage (0.667) in that period. However, the team has faltered recently, losing four straight games. It’s been a month since the end of May.
The ninth-placed Hanwha Eagles also had an eight-game winning streak from the 22nd to the 1st of last month. It took them a whopping 6593 days. The Eagles are gradually realising ‘winning baseball’ under manager Choi Won-ho. Their losing streak was snapped on the 2nd against the Samsung Lions, but they’ve kept the momentum going with two wins and two losses in their last four games.
The NC Dinos, who were firmly in third place, faltered sharply, losing 12 out of 15 games (three wins) from the fourth week of June (20-25 June) to last week (3-9 July). They dropped from third to fifth place. They recently lost leadoff hitter Park Gun-woo to a walk-eating problem, and on the 10th of July, ahead of the second week of the schedule, Park Min-woo was removed from the first team roster with a sore right shoulder.
The Lotte Giants have also seen their skyrocketing momentum through May come to a screeching halt. Aside from a win against last-place Samsung, they have not won in the last three weeks. They will look to manage their win total in the final three games of the first half against NC.
Samsung is not at full strength after losing Oh Jae-il to a hamstring injury, although star player Koo Ja-rook has returned from injury. Their two wins last weekend were against the NC, who are currently in the lowest form of the season. They meet KIA, who are currently the hottest team on fire, in the final three games of the first half.
Last year, the difference between first place (SSG – 57 wins, 3 draws and 26 losses) and 10th place (Hanwha – 25 wins, 1 draw and 59 losses) in the first half was 32.5 games. As of the 10th, the difference between first-place LG and 10th-place Samsung (30 wins, 48 losses) is 19 games. As the power gap narrows, it’s likely to continue to bite. There is a consensus that the 2023 regular season title will take more than 85 wins to secure.