The Lotte Giants, which had been cruising for a month in April, faced their first crisis of the season. The crash in May last year is also coming to mind.
Lotte lost 2-5 in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League home game against Doosan Bears held at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan on the 9th.
Last April,메이저놀이터 Lotte was truly the best team in the KBO League. From Sajik KIA on the 20th of last month to Gwangju KIA on the 2nd of this month, he won 9 consecutive wins. It is the first time in 15 years since 2008 that Lotte recorded 9 consecutive wins (July 27-September 2, the club’s highest ever 11 consecutive wins).
In the meantime, Lotte ran to break the club’s most consecutive wins. However, on the 3rd, they lost against KIA by 2-10, and the winning streak ended here. Even though local ace Na Gyun-an (25) started, he collapsed with 5 runs in 4 innings and was unable to prevent defeat.
And Lotte took a ‘forced break’ for 5 days. After the Gwangju game on the 4th was canceled due to rain, all 3 games of the ‘Classic Series’ with the Samsung Lions, which were scheduled to be held from the 5th, were postponed due to rain. Until the rest day on Monday, Lotte spent time without a game.
It can be said that it was a sweet break in that the victory team was consumed a lot during the winning streak. However, in terms of game sense, it was a concern. In particular, although they recorded 1 loss, it can be said that it was more painful in that the atmosphere was good.
What does the command tower think of the long break? Before the game on the 9th, Lotte coach Larry Sutton (53) said, “The previous four games were canceled. I rested for five days until yesterday (8th).” Still, he said, “What I am satisfied with is that I continued training even in the rain for four days.” “The players showed energy and concentration while training, and I think that will affect today’s game.”
And the game that started, Lotte got the first point from the end of the first inning. Leading batter Ahn Kwon-soo’s left-handed hit and infield grounder followed by Jack Rex’s right-handed hit at number 3, and Lotte scored a point first.
However, Lotte hit a left-handed solo home run by Heo Gyeong-min in defense in the top of the second inning and immediately allowed the score to tie. Then, in the 3rd inning, Kim Jae-hwan hit a sacrifice fly at the 1st out and 3rd base, which was made with a hit by lead batter Lee Yu-chan and a stolen second base, and gave a come-from-behind score. After starter Dan Strayley pitched with 2 runs in 6 innings and went down, Lotte gave up the victory by contributing 3 runs in the 7th and 8th innings.
With this, Lotte gave up second place to the LG Twins, who won overtime on the same day, and fell to third place. Even after the first loss after 9 consecutive wins, it maintained first place, but ended up falling two steps as it missed the opportunity to add a victory amid repeated cancellations of rain.
For Lotte, the nightmare of last year is bound to come to mind. In the 2022 season, Lotte recorded a win rate of 0.609 (14 wins, 9 losses, 1 draw) for the month of April, finishing second after SSG Landers (win rate 0.792). However, in May, the win rate fell to 0.346 (9th place), and after that, except for August (0.542), it failed to rebound to the extent that there was no month with a 50% win rate.
Of course, within the team, we try not to follow last year’s train as much as possible. Veteran Jeon Jun-woo said, “Baseball is different every year. It happened last year, but it may not be the case this year.”
During the 9-game winning streak, the most common phrase that Lotte’s players and coaching staff said was, “Even if we lose, we don’t seem to lose.” In the end, Lotte will have to regain the momentum of the end of April so that it does not repeat last year’s failure.