Lotte’s ‘release myth’ tops late-season appearances at 35… but team wins only 1, wastes pitching gem

Posted on 6 August 2023 by

Veteran reliever Sang-soo Kim (35, Los Angeles Giants) is starting to resemble his early season form in the second half. He’s been performing well despite his frequent appearances, but his team has been wasting them.

Kim Sang-soo took the mound as Lotte’s third pitcher with the bases loaded in the top of the fifth inning of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League home game against SSG Landers at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan on Friday with his team leading 5-3.

Facing pinch-hitter Kim Kang-min, Kim induced a grounder to third base with a changeup. The ball, which would normally have been a double play, was caught by third baseman Han Dong-hee and thrown home after stepping on the third base line. With the force situation lifted, the catcher, Lee Jung-geun, was supposed to tag the runner at third base, but somehow, he only stepped on home plate and looked at first base. He gave up a run.

With the score still 5-4 in favor of Lotte, Kim Sang-soo, who came on to pitch the sixth inning, would eventually give up the game-winning run in the second inning. Two batters later, he gave up a big shot off the right-field fence to Choo Shin-soo, and then a double down the third-base line to Choi Ji-hoon. The ball hit the tarp and the left fielder was late with the throw, allowing Shin-Soo Choo to come home. Choi Joo-hwan followed with an RBI single to bring the score to 5-6 and SSG’s lead.

The team tied the game at 6-6 in the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run by Jeong Hoon, saving Kim Sang-soo from taking the loss. However, Lotte eventually lost 6-7 in 10 extra innings to clinch the weekend series.

Including this game, Sang-soo Kim has been on a tight pitching schedule in the second half of the season. Of Lotte’s 14 games since the All-Star break, Kim has pitched in nine of them, which is tied for first among all 10 clubs. At the age of 35, he’s already anchored the bullpen with two late-game three-hit performances. Despite this, he has a 2.35 ERA.

He’s been pitching well, too. Before giving up two runs in game five, he had a 12-game scoreless streak, and he was particularly good at crisis management, not allowing a single hit in five bases-loaded situations while inducing three strikeouts and one groundout.

On the 28th of last month against the Gwangju KIA, he was put into a rundown situation with runners on first and second base due to a hit and an error, but he got Kim Tae-gun to pop out in front of the third baseman. Then, in the seventh inning of a 3-3 tie against Sasik NC on the 1st, he got Park Min-woo to ground out to third base to end the inning.

The manager also praised Kim for his frequent appearances when needed. “Sang-soo Kim has been a big help to the team lately. He’s been pitching well in crunch time and closing out innings,” he said, adding, “He’s showing quality pitches.”
Despite his efforts, however, Lotte has struggled to win on Kim’s days on the mound. With just four wins in 14 games in the second half of the season, Lotte has lost all nine of Kim’s starts, except for the game against Sajik Kiwoom on March 21. Kim Sang-soo has been forced into a chase-and-lose situation.스포츠토토

After being released by SSG last season, Kim found a new home with Lotte this year. A Lotte official said, “Kim Sang-soo was practically a free agent. We competed with other teams to sign him.” As expected, Kim continued to pitch well in April with a 0.87 ERA and was a big boost to the Lotte bullpen. However, his ERA rose to 5.23 in May and 11.12 in June.

Kim Sang-soo, who was removed from the first team in mid-June, has been a bit shaky since his return, but he’s been on a roll in July with 10 shutouts. Lotte will need to capitalize on the pitcher’s strong form.



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