Lotte Giants blank NC Dinos to even baseball postseason series

By Yonhap
  • Published : Oct 9, 2017 - 17:50
  • Updated : Oct 10, 2017 - 09:45

The Lotte Giants blanked the NC Dinos 1-0 to even their Korea Baseball Organization postseason series at one game apiece Monday.

Starter Brooks Raley tossed 5 1/3 shutout innings before leaving the game with a leg injury, and the bullpen took care of the rest at Sajik Stadium in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

The Giants bounced back after dropping the opening game 9-2 in 11 innings Sunday. The best-of-five series will resume in Changwon, about 50 kilometers west of Busan, on Wednesday.

The Giants led the KBO by hitting into 146 double plays in 144 regular season games, and they got their only run Monday on a double play ball in the bottom of the second.

They loaded the bases after an error and two straight walks issued by NC starter Jang Hyun-sik. No. 8 hitter Moon Kyu-hyun then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, as Andy Burns trotted home to make it 1-0 Giants.

After wasting a handful of scoring opportunities in Sunday's loss, the Giants were once again frustratingly unproductive with men in scoring positions.

Brooks Raley of the Lotte Giants throws a pitch against the NC Dinos in Game 2 of the clubs` first round postseason series in the Korea Baseball Organization at Sajik Stadium in Busan on Oct. 9, 2017. (Yonhap)

In the bottom of the third, the Giants drew two straight walks with two outs, but Andy Burns flew out to center, one pitch after missing a three-run home run when his towering drive flew wide of the left field foul pole.

A single and a walk with one out in the fourth set up another chance for the Giants, who were robbed of extra-base hits by the Dinos' outfield.

First, center fielder Kim Seong-uk made a leaping catch on a line drive off the bat of Shin Bon-ki. Kim misread the ball initially and had to scramble back and time his jump to keep it a one-run game.

The next batter, Jeon Jun-woo, sent a deep fly to right field corner, and right fielder Na Sung-bum ran all the way to the warning track to make the grab just in front of the wall.

The Giants made a fine defensive play of their own in the top of the fifth. With a man at first with one out, center fielder Jeon Jun-woo made a tough catch in the shadow at the track. He then made a strong throw to second baseman Burns, who turned and fired a strike to first base to double up Kim Tae-gun at the bag.

At least the Giants found ways to put men on base; the Dinos barely threatened to score against Lotte starter Brooks Raley, who limited them to four singles over 5 1/3 shutout innings.

But Raley was forced to leave the game with one out in the top of the sixth, after getting hit by a piece of a broken bat.

Na Sung-bum chopped one to second base and Raley, who was watching the ball travel, didn't see the piece of bat flying toward him. The lower part of his left pant leg, just above the ankle, was smeared with blood. He was taken to a local hospital.

In Raley's relief, right-hander Park Jin-hyung gave up a double before retiring the next two batters in order.

NC starter Jang, a 22-year-old making his third postseason appearance, more than did his part to keep his team in the game. The tough-luck loser held the Giants to a run over seven innings on just three hits. He was a bit erratic while issuing five walks, but retired 10 straight batters in one stretch.

Since the run off Jang was unearned, this was only the fourth KBO postseason game ever without an earned run.

And Jang's offense could do nothing against the Giants pitching. After Raley's sudden departure, three relievers slammed the door shut on the Dinos over the final 3 2/3 innings.

Lotte closer Son Seung-lak, who threw his season-high of 35 pitches Sunday, worked around a two-out single in the ninth to earn the save.

The Dinos will try to regain the series lead in Game 3 with Jeff Manship on the mound. The American right-hander is no stranger to big moments, having pitched for the Cleveland Indians in last year's World Series. He was 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA in three starts against the Giants during the regular season. He was 12-4 overall with a 3.67 ERA.

The Giants will counter with former US minor league pitcher Song Seung-jun. The righty made two regular season appearances against the Dinos, and had a 3.60 ERA without a win-loss record. He was 11-5 with a 4.21 ERA for the season. (Yonhap)