안전놀이터36 games left, 23 wins to go. That’s how much is left of LG coach Yeom Kyung-yup’s 88-win plan. The plan seemed to be on track, but now things are a little different.
The LG Twins have hit a bump in the road heading into their final three-game series of August. At one point, they were 8.0 games out of second place and were expected to take a commanding lead, but a three-game sweep turned into a tailspin in just three days. The gap with the second-place KT Wiz was reduced from 7.5 games to 4.5 games. Coach Yoon Kyung-yeop had said that he would focus on whether LG could accumulate the number of wins it was aiming for, rather than the difference between second place and a particular team, but the unexpected three-game losing streak has made that plan more difficult.
Before the game against Lotte in Jamsil on Nov. 24, coach Yeom Kyung-yup said, “We need to reduce the number of disappointing games. If we win 88 games, we have a good chance of finishing first. The remaining six games against KT are also important, but the most important thing is whether we can achieve our goal. Only then will the pressure be lessened. We have to go through the remaining 40 games as a unit. If we get +4 wins (24) with a 5 percent chance of winning, that’s 88 wins. We can do it.”
At this point, the goal for the rest of the season is 24 wins and 16 losses in 40 games (0.600 winning percentage). On the 24th, the team won 3-1 against Lotte.
Through 24 days, LG had 65 wins, two draws and 38 losses for a winning percentage of 0.631. They were 7.5 games behind second-place KT Wiz (59 wins, 2 draws, 47 losses, 0.557 winning percentage). As scary as KT’s momentum is, it’s hard to ignore the gap that had already opened up. If the baseball proverb ‘it takes a month to catch up with a three-game deficit’ is true, LG’s first place finish in the regular season seemed certain, but what was supposed to take a month happened in just three days.
Choi Won-tae ⓒKyun Hye-mi Reporter
Go Woo-seok ⓒKyun Hye-mi Reporter
The three-game series between the NC Dinos and Changwon created the current situation. On the 25th, LG was swept 1-14 by NC, which was led by Eric Peddie. Starter Choi Won-tae gave up 11 runs (9 earned) on 15 hits in 4 innings. 11 runs without a single home run. Jung Woo-young Park Myung-geun Kim Jin-sung and Choi Dong-hwan split the remaining four innings.
The game on the 26th was a 5-7 loss after closer Ko Woo-seok faltered after being hit by an umpire. The team was ahead until the top of the ninth inning, so Yoo Young-chan, Baek Seung-hyun, Ham Deok-joo, and Kim Jin-sung all came out and used up the bullpen for nothing. On the 27th, the bullpen had to go nine innings as starter Im Chan-kyu left in the first inning for a “headshot” ejection. In the process, Baek Seung-hyun and Yoo Young-chan pitched two days in a row and Kim Jin-sung pitched three days.
Meanwhile, KT swept a three-game series against the Lotte Giants to build momentum. With an impressive 25-6 record and 0.806 winning percentage in the second half, they knocked the SSG Landers down to third place and are now a threat to even LG.
KT Wiz head coach Lee Kang-cheol. Yonhap News Agency
“KT is more stable than us right now,” Yeom Kyung-yeop laughed before the game on the 18th, “I thought we wouldn’t be in the bottom half of the table, but we’re coming up so well.” He said that he still had time to spare. Of course, the gap is not small now. Still, the fact that the gap has narrowed so quickly while KT’s momentum continues to build can be nerve-wracking.
LG needs 23 wins in their remaining 36 games to reach 88 points. That translates to a winning percentage of 0.639, which is higher than their current winning percentage of 0.613. It’s a number they’ll have to push harder than they have so far. Of course, you don’t have to win 88 games to finish first in the regular season. If LG wins 85 games, KT will need to go 24-9 in their remaining 33 games to flip the standings.
If LG reaches the target of 88 wins with no ties, it will finish the regular season with 88 wins, 2 ties, and 54 losses, a winning percentage of 0.620. Since the KBO became a 10-team league, the only time a team with 88 wins has failed to finish first in the regular season was the SK Wyverns (SSG) in 2019. They had the exact same winning percentage as first-place Doosan (88 wins, 1 tie, 55 losses), but finished second due to a poor head-to-head record. SK didn’t even make it to the Korean Series because of the loss. It’s a page from Yoon Kyung-yup’s “black history.
Coincidentally, LG and KT will play a fateful three-game series in Suwon in a week, and the outcome of the first six games could set the tone for the three-game series. So far, the two teams have split the 10 games with five wins each.
Coach Yeom Kyung-yup high-fives his players ⓒReporter Kwak Hye-mi
1st place in the 2015 regular season in the 10-team system
2015 Samsung 88 wins, 56 losses, 0.611, 2nd and 2.5G
2016 Doosan 93 wins, 1 draw, 50 losses, 0.650, 2nd place and 9.0G
2017 KIA 87 wins, 1 tie, 56 losses, 0.608 points, 2.0Gs
2018 Doosan 93 wins 51 losses 0.646, 2nd and 14.5G
2019 Doosan 88 wins, 1 draw, 55 losses, 0.615, 2nd and 0.0G
2020 NC 83 wins, 6 draws, 55 losses, 0.601, 2nd and 4.5G
2021 KT-Samsung 76 wins, 9 draws, 59 losses, 0.563 (tiebreaker)
2022 SSG 88 wins, 4 draws, 52 losses, 0.629, 2.0G with 2nd place