At one point, Doosan was riding high with a franchise-record 11-game winning streak. However, after the streak was broken, they fell into a 5-12 slump, jeopardizing their 5-percent win rate again. The void of ‘15.2 billion catcher’ Yang Yang-ji looks big.
Doosan suffered a 0-1 loss in its 13th matchup of the season against KT at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on April 15. As the score suggests, it was the bats that lost. They were unable to capitalize against a KT mound that featured William Cuevas (seven scoreless innings), Park Young-hyun (one scoreless inning), and Kim Jae-yoon (one scoreless inning). They had to settle for two hits and two walks. While KT’s bullpen has been one of the strongest in the league in the second half of the season, it was the first time Doosan was held scoreless against KT this season.
It’s not like they didn’t have chances. In the fourth inning, Jung Soo-bin led off with a bunt single, but Ahn Jae-seok failed to lay down a sacrifice bunt and was thrown out at home on Jose Rojas’ grounder to first base after Cuevas’ throwing error. Back-to-back singles by Kim In-tae in the fifth and Kim Jae-hwan and Kim In-tae in the seventh also failed to connect. Ace Raul Alcantara’s seven-hit shutout was short-lived, and Doosan fell to its third straight loss.
Doosan’s batting struggles are nothing new. It’s not like they were silenced by a strong KT team on the mound. The bats have been out of sync since their 11-game winning streak came to an end on March 26. From then until the day before, the team went just 5-12 in 17 games, ranking last in runs scored (1.9 ppg), last in runs scored (61), and ninth in batting average (2.2 ppg). Doosan is the only team with a slugging percentage in the high teens.
To make matters worse, Yang Ji Hyun, who was batting 3-for-2 with a .906 OPS and 3-for-5 slugging percentage in 87 games, has been injured. Yang tore a 1.8-centimeter tear in his left lateral labrum after coughing up tonsillitis and swinging, and has been resting and rehabbing since Aug. 8. Even with the data from the 8th through the 15th, Doosan ranks 9th in team batting average (2.8) and 10th in scoring chances (1.7).
With Yang Ji’s expungement, Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop called for the remaining center fielders in the first team to step up. In particular, he tapped Kim Jae-hwan to replace Yang as the No. 4 hitter, giving him more responsibility. However, the performance of the Doosan bats in Yang’s absence has been disastrous. In addition to Kim Jae-hwan, who had a 1.05 RBI average, Yang Seok-hwan had a 2.01 RBI average and Rojas had a 2.33 RBI average, all with water bats. Only Jeong Soo-bin has worked hard to set the table with 4 for 1 and 7, but no one has scooped up the rice on the table. 메이저놀이터
Doosan, who once threatened second-place SSG with an 11-game winning streak, slumped to fifth place (49 points, 1 draw, 48 games), trailing sixth-place KIA by 1.5 games. Their win-loss margin, which had been as high as +8, has narrowed to +1, putting them back to worrying about a 5% win rate. At this rate, they may not even make it to the wild card round, let alone the semi-finals. The goal might be to play the wild card game away from home.
Meanwhile, Yang Ji, who is rehabilitating, is scheduled for a medical checkup on the 18th. Lee said, “He’s moving lightly, but if he comes back this time, he’ll have to complete the season, so he’ll have another checkup. We have to hold on until he comes back,” Lee said, hoping for a rebound from the remaining center fielders.