‘Kium Chili Peppers’ KT shock sweep LG to advance to 1-3 in series
KT Wiz, who had been on a scary upswing and threatening to unseat leader LG Twins, suffered an unexpected blow at the hands of the ninth-ranked Kiwoom Heroes.
KT lost 0-7 in an away game against Kiwoom in the 2023 KBO League at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on March 3. As a result, KT dropped both games of the weekend series with Kiwoom, which began on August 1.
The sweep was unexpected for the current No. 2 KT,메이저놀이터 which had its best August ever. With a winning percentage of 0.826 (19-4) in August, KT had the best record among the 10 clubs and was expected to continue its upward trend in September.
With a hot August, KT quickly jumped into the race for the top spot in the regular season, closing the gap to 4.5 games from leader LG.
In particular, the team’s rotation was adjusted due to the rainout, allowing them to play all three of their starters in the order of Cuevas, Wes Benjamin, and Young-pyo for the upcoming three-game midweek series against LG.
For KT, the calculation was that if they could keep up the momentum in the three-game weekend series against lowly Kiwoom, they could close the gap on LG and have a chance to win the fateful matchup next week.
Moreover, their first opponent in September, Kiwoom, had fallen to the bottom of the table due to the loss of their top hitter Lee Jeong-hoo, and while they had recently leapfrogged Hanwha to move up to ninth place, they were in a bad mood after losing their best pitcher, Ahn Woo-jin, to Tommy John surgery.
KT manager Lee Kang-cheol. ⓒnewsis
However, when the lid was lifted, the three-game weekend series between the two teams was a complete victory for Kiwoom.
It was unfortunate that homegrown ace Ko Young-pyo, who started the first game of the three-game series on the first day of the weekend, collapsed. After 12 consecutive quality starts (6 or more innings and 3 or fewer earned runs), it didn’t bode well as Ko collapsed with 6 runs on 9 hits in 5 innings.
The KT bats, which had been held in check by Kiwoom starter Kim Sun-ki for six scoreless innings in the previous game, were silenced for the second straight day.
They struggled to get anything going against Kiwoom starter Hurado, being locked in a no-hitter until the bottom of the seventh inning. Only Hwang Jae-gyun drew a walk off Hurado in the top of the inning to reach first base, but the rest of the batters were stranded.
With the sweep, the gap between them and LG is now 5.5 games. After disappointing results in the three-game weekend series, it will be interesting to see if KT can rebound in the midweek series against LG with their 1-3 starters.