The Kia Tigers had their long-awaited comeback, and it was a successful one. However, the team is not smiling despite their performances. They still have a long way to go.
KIA fell into a three-game losing streak with a 3-10 home loss to the KT Wiz of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Gwangju-KIA Champions Field on Wednesday. The gap between the eighth-place KIA and the ninth-place Hanwha Eagles has narrowed to 2.5 games with a season record of 28 wins, 1 loss and 34 draws (0.452).
Ahead of the game, KIA received some reinforcements. Outfielder Na Sung-beom, who hasn’t played a game since the start of the season, and infielder Kim Do-young, who was injured in the opening two games against SSG Landers, were called up to the first team. They started in the Futures League games against the Lotte Giants on Oct. 20-22 to get a feel for the game, and then immediately joined the first team squad.
The two players were named to the starting lineup immediately after their call-ups and made their presence felt from the first game.
Kim Do-young, who took over the leadoff duties and also played third base defense, completed a multi-hit game in just two at-bats, going 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored. In the top of the first inning, Kim singled and stole second base before coming home on Lee Woo-sung’s single to give the team the lead.
Na Sung-beom did not stand still either. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Na, batting fifth, pulled a two-pitch fastball from Lee Sang-dong for a solo arch. Two players were involved in two of the team’s three runs.
The problem was that the rest of the bats were silent. The bottom of the order of Byun Woo-hyuk, Shin Beom-soo, and Park Chan-ho combined for just one hit in eight at-bats, while Kim Do-young and the table-setting Ryu Ji-hyuk went 0-for-4. Choi Hyung-woo, who had recently shown off his hot bat, was also silent, going 0-for-3 against Hanwha the day before.
The pitchers didn’t help either. KIA activated its bullpen from the third inning onward, with substitute starter Hwang Dong-ha. Until Hwang Dong-ha pitched 2 innings of 4 hits (1 HR), 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, and 3 runs, KIA looked to be in control. However, 안전놀이터 the second pitcher, Yoon Jung-hyun, went 2⅓ innings of 8 hits (1 HR), 2 walks, and 5 runs, and the game tilted further in KT’s favor.
Kim Seung-hyun followed with 2⅔ scoreless innings of four-hit ball with two strikeouts, while Kim Yoo-shin and Kim Ki-hoon gave up one run apiece. In other words, KIA’s early starters were responsible for a lot of runs.
In the end, everything has to come together for KIA to make the leap to the mid-table. They can’t simply wait for their injured players to return to action. It’s time for the starters, who will have to make do without Adonis Medina, who was sent down to the second team, and the offense to step up.