Giants rise to top of league
By Jung Min-ho
After 1,462 days, the Lotte Giants are back on top of the KBO standings.
Sweeping aside concerns about poor performances during the preseason exhibition games, the Giants have hauled themselves to the top of the league. They beat the visiting Kia Tigers, 11-7 at the Gwangju Baseball Stadium, Friday, before rain washed out the weekend fixtures. It was their seventh win of the season.
The strength of the Giants is a good combination of hitting and pitching. The team has shown balanced records with .307 batting average and 3.21 ERA, ranking first and second each in the league as of Tuesday, while their rivals the SK Wyverns and LG Twins have not stand out offensively with a .258 and .261 respectively.
Lotte’s powerful batters have played a vital role in keeping the team on the winning track. Hong Sung-heon and Jo Sung-hwan have been impressive fire and have personal batting averages of .425 and .4 respectively. They led the team to victory against the Tigers. Hong had four hits and two runs from four at-bats, while Jo had one hit and two runs from two at-bats.
“This is just the beginning,” said Lotte Giants manager Yang Seung-ho in an interview with OSEN after the game on Friday. “Our goal for April and May is to stay above .50 winning percentage. We still have four more matches to go this month, so we can’t kick back yet.”
Even though they have made a good start, the Giants still have a card up their sleeves. Pitcher Jung Dae-hyun is expected to join the team in June to boost the Giants’ bullpen.
Nevertheless, staying on top will be tough. Lotte will face last season’s champions, the Samsung Lions on April 24 to 26 of this month. Then, they face off against the Twins, currently ranked second with the Wyverns, from the 27 to 29 of this month.