The Lotte Giants are aiming to make a big leap in the second half of the 2023 season after overcoming the biggest hurdle since the start. The manager has set a goal of ‘seven wins’.온라인카지노
Lotte manager Larry Sutton reflected on the month of June ahead of the team’s seventh game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the Doosan Bears at Munsu Baseball Stadium in Ulsan on 1 June.
“As everyone knows, we started the regular season with a good performance in April and May,” Sutton said. “In June, our bullpen pitchers were tired and we had a lot of injuries, which affected our performance. It was a combination of things, including our hitting cycle, and we struggled in June.”
Through May, Lotte had a season record of 27 wins and 17 losses with a win-loss margin of ‘+10’. They were in third place, two games behind first-place LG Twins and one game behind second-place SSG Landers. Up until this point, it looked like Lotte’s ‘momentum’ was not going to die down anytime soon.
The start of June wasn’t bad either. Things were going well for Lotte until they opened their three-game series at Sajik Home against the KIA Tigers from 2-4 June with a winning series.
However, the crisis began on 6-8 June when they were swept by the KT Wiz in Sajik. They broke the losing streak by beating the Samsung Lions on the 9th, but dropped games on the 10th and 11th, resulting in a losing series. They then returned to action and faltered in a midweek three-game series against the Hanwha Eagles.
A nine-game series in the Seoul metropolitan area against SSG (Incheon), KT (Suwon), and LG (Jamsil) followed, all of which went to their knees in a losing series. Dedicating another sweep to KT, the team’s mood quickly sank. By the fourth week of June, the team had lost six games in a row and was -10 for the month, bringing their season record to 31 wins and just 5 per cent. With one game behind fifth-placed Doosan, two games behind sixth-placed Kiwoom, and 2.5 games behind seventh-placed KT, fears of a mid-table fall were growing.
Outfielder Ahn Kwon-soo was ruled out for the first half of the season due to surgery, and injuries to star shortstop Noh Jin-hyuk, veteran right fielder Jung Hoon and ace Na Kyun-an added to the woes. The dreaded “DTD” began to haunt Lotte.
Lotte first breathed a sigh of relief with a two-game come-from-behind victory over Samsung on 27-28 June, followed by an extra-inning victory over Doosan on the 30th and a three-game winning streak. The loss to Doosan on the 1st snapped their winning streak, but they still trailed third-placed NC by 0.5 games, making the race for the top spot more interesting at the end of the first half.
The return of key players sidelined by injury is also imminent. Na Kyun-an is almost certain to start against the Hanwha Eagles in Daejeon on the 4th. Noh Jin-hyuk and Jeong Hoon are on track to return to the first team after gaining experience in the Futures League. Right-hander Choi Jun-yong, who served as a set-up man until last year, is also returning to form. With 100 per cent strength, the team will look to accumulate as many wins as possible before the All-Star break on the 14th of next month.
Sutton is hopeful about the outlook for July because of this. He did not mention a target number of wins for the remainder of the first half, but he is confident that the entire squad can bounce back now that they are over the hump.
“Lotte’s performance in June wasn’t bad per se. “We had some games where we were winning and then lost in the second half, but overall the quality was good,” Sutton said. “There were a lot of games that we lost unfortunately, so I would say there were more positives than negatives,” he added.
“When I say quality, I mean that the players fought hard on the field. “What I’m hoping is that the team will continue to find ways to win each and every day until the injured players get back,” he concluded. “I’m hoping that we’ll have a month where the pace drops off in June and we can turn it around in July and start to climb.
While Sutton is focusing more on the positives than the negatives, it’s hard not to be optimistic about Lotte’s July. While the starting rotation has been steady, the batting line-up has had its ups and downs.
Against Doosan on the 1st, the batting line-up failed to capitalise on several scoring opportunities. In order for Sutton to realise his dream of a ‘seven-cheeked’ batting line-up, the key is to achieve the same two-hit balance as in April and May.