The reigning champion SSG Landers held on to the top spot in the KBO on Monday, edging out the LG Twins and NC Dinos with a couple of games in hand after the second full week of KBO action.
The Landers top the table with eight wins and four losses, beating the Twins and Dinos on winning percentage alone as the joint second place holders have nine wins and five losses each with two games more played than the Landers.
The Kiwoom Heroes and Doosan Bears share fourth place just a game and a half behind on seven wins and six losses, with all 10 teams remaining within 4.5 games of first place.
Down at the bottom of the table, the Hanwha Eagles have climbed out of last place, while the Kia Tigers plummet from sixth to 10th in the early season going.
It was a sweep-less midweek in the KBO as all five series ended with at least one win in either column, the Heroes and Bears even splitting their series with a game apiece — 6-4 to the Bears on Tuesday and 7-2 to the Heroes on Thursday —and the first pollution-related cancellation of the season.
Down in Daegu, the Landers led the Lions for two games, 5-4, 3-0, before dropping a consolation game on Thursday, 11-9.
The same thing happened in Changwon, South Gyeongsang, where the Dinos beat the Wiz 1-0, 5-1 on Tuesday and Wednesday before dropping a 10-3 consolation game on Thursday.
Down the road in Busan, the Twins and Lotte Giants split the first two games, with the Giants taking the opener at home 6-5 and the Twins winning game two, 12-8. The Giants bounced back in the rubber match, winning 8-7 to take the series.
The Eagles rise out of last place began in Gwangju on Tuesday when the Daejeon club beat the Tigers 5-4. Kia took the second game 2-0, but lost the rubber match 5-1.
The Tigers slide continued into the weekend, handing the Heroes the only sweep of the week as the Gwangju side had a disastrous trip to Seoul, losing 9-2, 6-1, 2-0.
The first-place Landers struggled over the weekend, winning 2-1 against the Dino on Friday at home before dropping back-to-back games over the weekend: 1-0, 10-5. That Saturday game saw the Landers hold the Dinos to no hits over nine innings, only to give up their first knock of the game for a deciding run in the 10th.
Over in Jamsil, southern Seoul, the first Jamsil derby of the 2023 KBO season went to the Twins, with a big 13-4 win on Friday and a 3-1 win on Saturday. The Bears took a consolation 10-5 victory on Sunday, but lost the Jamsil derby bragging rights.
In Daegu, the Lions beat the Giants two games to one, taking a 9-7 win on Friday before dropping 8-5 on Saturday and taking the rubber match 9-1 on Sunday.
The Eagles and Wiz split the final weekend series after playing to the first tie of the season over 12 innings on Friday. After splitting that four-hour-56-minute game 7-7, the Eagles won 7-2 on Saturday before the Wiz took a big 14-2 victory on Sunday.
One significant KBO record fell this week. On Wednesday, Eagles pitcher Moon Dong-ju threw a 160.1 kilometer per hour (99.48 mile per hour) fastball during a game against the Tigers, becoming the first Korean pitcher ever to break the 160 kilometer per hour mark in the KBO since tracking began in 2011.
Moon was the third pitcher ever to top one 160 in the league, after Radhames Liz in 2012 and Fabio Castillo in 2016.
The fight for second place continues Tuesday as the Dinos and Twins face off in Jamsil. Elsewhere in the KBO, the Landers face the Wiz in Suwon, the Tigers play the Giants in Busan, the Lions visit the Heroes in western Seoul and the Bears and Eagles face off in Daejeon.
Moving into the weekend, the Bears host the Wiz at Jamsil, the Heroes head to Incheon to face the Landers, local rivals the Giants and Dinos face off in Changwon, the Lions play the Tigers in Gwangju and the Eagles host the Twins in Daejeon.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]