LG overcomes ‘Flutco nightmare’ to win big

LG won Game 1 of the Korean Series with a thrilling come-from-behind two-run homer by Park Dong-won in the eighth inning. The victory, the first in 7670 days, evened the series at 1-1, but the team was troubled by the absence of Won-tae Choi (26), the “winning hitter” who was brought in in exchange for prospects.

Choi Won-tae started the second game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO Korean Series (best-of-seven) at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on April 8 and was quickly pulled after giving up four runs on two hits and two walks in ⅓ innings against KT. Despite only throwing 20 pitches, LG manager Yoon Kyung-yeop didn’t hesitate to pull him.

In the first inning, he gave up a straight-up single to Kim Sang-soo. After Hwang Jae-gyun singled to center, pitching coach Kim Kyung-tae came to the mound, 바카라사이트 but the uneasy flow continued. Anthony Alford walked on five pitches to load the bases with no outs.

Park induced a grounder to third base to keep the runner at third.

He got one valuable out, but was hit by a slider to Jang Sung-woo with the bases loaded, allowing a two-run double to left field. That’s when Kim Kyung-tae took the mound again. It was his second visit to the mound, which meant a pitching change.

He had only thrown 20 pitches, but after losing the first game, LG could not afford to leave Choi Won-tae in the game. He threw up to 148km fastballs (10), sliders (6), changeups (3), and curves (!), but none of them went where he wanted them to.

In the first inning, Lee was rushed out of the bullpen to warm up and came in with runners on second and third in the first inning after giving up two runs. Choi Won-tae gave up four runs in ⅓ of an inning when Lee Jung-yong hit a double to left-center field.

The previous record was 0 innings pitched by LOTTE’s Yoon Hak-gil in Game 7 of the 1995 Korean Series.

Yoon gave up three consecutive hits to start the game against OB and then went down without recording an out. He gave up two runs. Choi Won-tae’s ⅓ inning on this day is tied for the second-fewest all-time, along with Samsung’s Kwon Young-ho in Game 4 in 1986, Hae-tae’s Moon Hee-soo in Game 6 in 1993, Pacific’s Choi Chang-ho in Game 4 in 1994, and LG’s Choi Won-ho in Game 3 in 2002.

For LG, Choi Won-tae went down in order in the first inning, but an ironclad bullpen prevented further damage. Lee Jung-yong (1⅔ innings), Jung Woo-young (1⅓ innings), Kim Jin-sung (⅔ innings), Baek Seung-hyun (⅔ innings), Yoo Young-chan (2⅓ innings), Ham Duk-joo (1 inning), and Ko Woo-seok (1 inning) combined for 8⅔ scoreless innings. The offense chipped away at the deficit with Austin Dean’s RBI single in the third, Oh Ji-hwan’s homer in the sixth, and Kim Hyun-soo’s RBI double down the right field line in the seventh, before Park Dong-won’s game-winning two-run shot in the eighth to make it 5-4. It evened the series at 1-1.

After 21 years of waiting to play in the Korean Series

After 21 years of waiting to play in the Korean Series, LG almost suffered the shock of losing both Games 1 and 2 at home. Historically, a team that loses two straight games in the Korean Series has only a 10% (2/20) chance of winning the title. However, the comeback win in Game 2 evened the series at 1-1 and set the tone.

While the victory feels good, LG has been sorely missing the services of Choi Won-tae, who was brought in with great intentions of winning the Korean Series. On July 30, the team traded outfield prospect Lee Ju-hyung, rookie pitcher Kim Dong-gyu, and a first-round pick in the 2024 draft (pitcher Jeon Jun-pyo, ranked eighth overall) to Kiwoom for Choi. It was a hemorrhaging of future resources to win.

Although Choi has struggled with a 3-3 record and a 6.70 ERA in nine games since joining the team, LG still hoped to make a splash in the Korean Series. He had 38 days to recover, ending on Sept. 30 against Doosan in Jamsil, but the result was a shocking one-out, four-run outing.

It was a high-stakes game for Choi, who had been winless in 13 postseason games (three starts) with a 1-1 record, three saves, and a 9.50 ERA. After losing the first game, he was unable to withstand the pressure of a must-win game. By this point, Choi’s postseason ERA had skyrocketed to 11.29.

The situation made it impossible for LG not to think of Plutko.

Normally, it would have been Plutko’s turn to start Game 2, but he had already left Korea. Plutko was an ace in the first half, but showed signs of illness in the second half. He suffered from a cold and a high fever, and on August 26, he suffered a pelvic bone bruise in the Changwon NC game. Plutko briefly prepared to return, but had a disagreement with the club during the recovery process. He delayed his return, citing the opinion of his American doctor, and when he showed no signs of returning, LG decided to suspend him.

“LG will win the Korean Series,” Plutko said when he returned to the U.S. on March 27, during the Korean Series preparations. The players have a one-team mentality. I will support LG for the rest of my life.” After nearly suffering back-to-back losses in Games 1 and 2, LG fought back with a strong bullpen and a stellar batting lineup to overcome the Plutko nightmare.

After Game 2, manager Yeom Kyung-yeop commented on Choi Won-tae’s next start. “I thought Choi Won-tae would pitch at least five innings, but he couldn’t get his pitches out early on, so I took him out quickly. I’ll have to discuss with the coaching staff and power analysis, but by taking him out early today, I have a card to play for Game 4. I’ll think about whether to go with Kim Yun-sik or Choi Won-tae (for Game 4). Maybe Lee Jung-yong can come in. I’ll think about it tomorrow.”

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