Contending ball club coming undone by double plays

By Catherine Chung
  • Published : May 18, 2017 - 14:20
  • Updated : May 18, 2017 - 14:31

GWANGJU -- Twin killings have been killing the LG Twins so far in this Korea Baseball Organization KBO season.

The Twins traveled down to Gwangju, some 330 kilometers from their home in Seoul, to take on the first-place Kia Tigers in a three-game series starting Tuesday, with hopes of grabbing the top spot in the standings by the end of the showdown. The Twins were trailing the Tigers by 1.5 games in second place.

In this file photo taken on May 7, 2017, players of the LG Twins celebrate a run during their Korea Baseball Organization game against the Doosan Bears at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

But the Twins lost the first two games of the series and have instead dropped to third place, now 3.5 games behind the Tigers.

They lost 3-2 Tuesday and then 8-3 the following day. In the earlier loss, the Twins hit into four double plays. They're tied with the Lotte Giants for the league lead with 42 double plays.

Despite those rally killers, the Twins have been able to stay near the top of the standings for the majority of the season because of their pitching. They boast the KBO's best team ERA with 3.00 and the lowest walks and hits per inning pitched WHIP with 1.17.

On offense, though, the Twins are fourth with a .281 team batting average, they're also second to last with just 23 home runs and have the fewest doubles with 49. They're ninth among the 10 clubs with a .384 team slugging percentage.

With so little power, they've been trying to get things done on the base path, and the approach has been a double-edged sword. The Twins have stolen 33 bags but have also been caught 20 times, both tops in the KBO.

This is mostly a young team, and their relatively green players are bound to go through their ups and downs. And manager Yang Sang-moon blamed the large number of double plays on his players' inexperience.

"You could say that our hitters for the most part have trouble figuring out patterns of the opposing pitchers and making necessary adjustments," Yang said. 

The manager said the hitters have to start making harder contact.

"I think we've been grounding into so many double plays because we're not hitting the ball hard enough," he said. "So the guys are trying to address that with our hitting coach. But it's obviously not easy. If they get too conscious of double plays, then it could continue to lead to bad results."

At 23-16, the Twins have a 3.5-game lead on the Nexen Heroes in third place, but their inability to rally late in games is another cause for concern.

Among the top five teams, the Twins are the only club never to have come back from a deficit after seven innings to win. They're 0-12 in those situations. (Yonhap)