By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, April 27 (Yonhap) — The LG Twins opened their three-game series against the SSG Landers on Tuesday in second place in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO).
When the series ended Thursday night, they were on top of the league.
No. 9 hitter Park Hae-min went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored, and starter Adam Plutko shook off a shaky first inning for his fourth consecutive quality start, as the Twins beat the Landers 6-3 in the rubber match of the series between the two best teams in the KBO.
The Twins are now 15-8, a game ahead of the Landers (13-8).
Twins starter Adam Plutko entered the game with a sparkling 0.77 ERA, the second lowest in the KBO. But the Landers greeted him with three straight hits out of the gate, with No. 2 hitter Choi Ji-hoon driving in Choo Shin-soo, who’d led off the game with a double, for the game’s first run.
Two batters later, the Landers doubled their lead on Guillermo Heredia’s double play.
The Twins got a run back in the bottom first, thanks to Moon Bo-gyeong’s two-out single off starter Kim Kwang-hyun.
The two starters soon settled down after the shaky opening frame. Plutko needed only seven pitches to retire the side in the second inning and pitched around some traffic on the base paths in the next two innings.
Kim picked off the speedy Park Hae-min at first base with two outs in the second inning. The left-hander gave up two straight singles to begin the third inning, before retiring the next three batters on fly outs.
The Twins then rallied to take a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth, as Park Hae-min, atoning for his earlier baserunning mishap, took Kim off the right field wall for a go-ahead two-run blast.
It was Park’s third home run of the season, matching the total from last year in 144 games.
But the Landers responded with a home run of their own, as Choi Jeong smacked a solo shot to left field to tie the score at 3-3 in the top fifth. It was the first homer surrendered by Plutko this season.
The Twins reclaimed their lead in the bottom half of that inning, with Kim Kwang-hyun gone from the game.
With one out, Oh Ji-hwan’s towering fly ball dropped in no-man’s land between shortstop Park Seong-han and left fielder Heredia for an unconventional double.
Cleanup Austin Dean then cashed in Oh with a single to right, putting the Twins up 4-3. Dean first took a pitch high and tight from reliever Choi Min-jun, and fell to the ground. He dusted himself off and stared down the pitcher, before poking the RBI hit through the hole on the right side.
Oh’s sacrifice fly in the sixth inning made it a 5-3 game for the Twins, and Park Dong-won knocked in the Twins’ sixth run with a one-out single in the seventh to round out the scoring.
Plutko improved to 4-0 for the season, though his ERA rose to 1.53 after he gave up three earned runs in six innings.
He had served up just two earned runs in 23 1/3 innings before Thursday.