The Korea Herald


SK, Lotte feel late-season pressure


Published : Sept. 19, 2011 - 19:27

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The temperature has dropped as the cool breeze of fall has swept in. But the tension and excitement are growing in the country’s top professional baseball league as the race for a playoff berth is well under way.

The race will reach its climax this week as two of the top teams ― the Lotte Giants and the SK Wyverns ― face off in a series starting Tuesday.

With less than three weeks before the end of the 2011 season, it is still not clear which teams will make it into the playoff series in October. Only the Samsung Lions, which comfortably sit atop the table with a 70-46 record, have secured their position. The Giants and Wyverns are in a tight battle for the runner-up spot.
Lee Dae-ho is Lotte’s most dangerous offensive threat. (Yonhap News) Lee Dae-ho is Lotte’s most dangerous offensive threat. (Yonhap News)

As of Monday, the Incheon-based Wyverns are in second place with 64 wins, 53 losses and two ties, while Busan’s Giants are in third with a 65-54-5 record.

The two teams are now getting ready for the big three-game showdown in Busan. The series will be crucial for the two teams as the winner is likely to take the runner-up spot.

The top four teams in the eight-team league will secure a playoff berth, but finishing in second or third place makes a huge difference in the postseason.

“We’ll play our best, bring everything we can against Lotte,” SK’s interim manger Lee Man-soo said on Sunday.

The two have met 16 times this season, with SK having a slight edge with a 9-6-1 record.

But the SK Wyverns were looking down after the team sacked in August their manager Kim Sung-keun, following his announcement that he would retire after the 2011 season. They were in fourth place only two weeks ago.

However, Lee has led them to victory in seven of their last eight games.

And more good news is that SK’s most formidable pitcher Kim Kwang-hyun is set to return after a four-month hiatus due to injury.

Meanwhile, the Giants showed signs of fatigue as their key hitters, including Lee Dae-ho, struggled.

But now, Lee seems to have found his rhythm. He hit three home runs in a row on Friday.

“These will be hard games, but we’ll play our best to win,” said Giants manger Yang Seung-ho.

By Oh Kyu-wook (