Futility against neighbor threatens postseason hopes for KBO club

September 21, 2018

SEOUL, Sept. 21 (Yonhap) — Though they share the same stadium in Seoul as their home, the Doosan Bears and the LG Twins in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) can hardly be called rivals.

It’s not just that the Bears (83-45) are in first place by a mile — 21 games ahead of the Twins, which are in fifth place.

By beating the Twins 9-3 at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Thursday, the Bears have now won 14 straight games against the Twins, dating back to Sept. 10 last year.

In this file photo from Aug. 1, 2018, players for the LG Twins leave the field at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul after losing to the Doosan Bears 14-8 in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game. (Yonhap)

In this file photo from Aug. 1, 2018, players for the LG Twins leave the field at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul after losing to the Doosan Bears 14-8 in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game. (Yonhap)

In 2018 alone, the Bears have won all 12 meetings versus the Twins, which are barely holding on to the wild-card spot at 63-67-1 (wins-losses-ties). They’re leading the Kia Tigers by 0.001 point in winning percentage.

If the Twins had won just half of those dozen games in 2018, they wouldn’t be sweating over a postseason berth now.

The Twins appeared ready to finally get the monkey off their back on Thursday. They took a 2-0 lead with Lee Hyung-jong’s two-run homer in the bottom third, but then the Bears put up four runs in the top of the fourth.

The Twins got a run back in the bottom half of that frame, but the Bears answered with two more runs for a 6-3 lead.

Park Kun-woo’s two-run blast opened up an 8-3 lead for the Bears in the sixth, and they added another run in the ninth for good measure.

Including one later Friday, the Twins have three more games left against the Bears. Teams play each other 16 times a season in the KBO.

Only once before has a club swept a season series against another. It came in the inaugural KBO season in 1982, when the Bears — then called the OB Bears — won all 16 games against the now-defunct Sammi Super Stars.

The Twins should try to avoid that ignominy not just to save face but to give themselves a shot at returning to the postseaon for the first time since 2016.

The Twins have 13 games left while the Tigers have 20, the most in the KBO.

Of their last 13, the Twins will face the last-place KT Wiz for four. The Twins have gone 7-5 against them this year.

In this file photo from June 5, 2018, Ryu Joong-il, manager of the LG Twins, watches his club in action against the Hanwha Eagles in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

In this file photo from June 5, 2018, Ryu Joong-il, manager of the LG Twins, watches his club in action against the Hanwha Eagles in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

The Twins and the Tigers will meet twice, with LG holding an edge at 8-6 so far.

The Tigers have a slightly tougher schedule remaining. They have five remaining versus the Hanwha Eagles, against whom they have been just 3-8 so far. Then there are four against the Lotte Giants, which have beaten the Tigers in seven out of their 12 meetings.

The Twins will be doing plenty of scoreboard watching down the stretch to see how the Tigers are doing, but LG manager Ryu Joong-il said his team will have to take care of its own business.

“We have to be winning our share of games, and we shouldn’t just be hoping that other teams will lose,” Ryu said recently. “I know our guys want to win (against the Bears). But sometimes they try too hard, and they get too tight and make mistakes.”

In the KBO postseason, the fifth-place club will take on the fourth seed in the wild-card game. The fourth-ranked team will advance to the next round with a victory. But the No. 5 team will have to win twice to move on.

The third-place team will await the wild-card winner in the first round. The second-ranked team will directly reach the second round. The pennant winner gets the bye to the championship final, the Korean Series.

 

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