After leading the KT Wiz to their first combined title (regular season + Korean Series) in 2021, Lee Kang-cheol is considered one of the most accomplished managers in the KBO. With five years of experience under his belt, Lee was tongue-in-cheek about the 2023 season.
KT defeated SSG Landers 3-1 in their regular-season home game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League on Wednesday at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, extending their winning streak to six games. In doing so, KT moved into fourth place with 47 wins, two draws and 43 losses (a winning percentage of 0.522), a point behind the third-place Doosan Bears (46 wins, one draw and 42 losses – a winning percentage of 0.523).
It’s a position that would have been unthinkable just a month ago. KT was last in the league with a -14 win-loss margin when it lost 1-10 at Suwon Doosan in June. Injuries to key players and poor form in the aftermath of the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) have been crucial.
After the addition of ace William Cuevas, who led the team to the 2021 title, the team started to pick up momentum. However, the leap from 10th place to third and a tie for fourth in a month’s time was also influenced by the league’s tight mid-table battle this season. While the top-ranked LG Twins and the second-ranked SSG Landers have been building a stronghold, the lower-ranked teams have been tearing through the middle of the pack with one winning streak after another.
It started with the Hanwha Eagles. After bouncing back and forth between ninth and 10th place for a long time, Hanwha won eight straight games in 6593 days, starting on June 21 against the KIA Tigers in Daejeon and ending on July 1 against the Samsung Lions in Daegu. Doosan picked up the baton. From July 1 against the Ulsan Lotte Giants to July 25 against the Jamsil Lotte Giants, Doosan won a franchise-record 11 straight games. In addition, the mid-table standings fluctuated with each team’s run, including two five-game winning streaks by the NC Dinos and one six-game winning streak (July 5-July 12) by KIA. As a result, only 4.5 games separate third-place Doosan from seventh-place Lotte, making it impossible to predict who will advance to fall baseball.메이저놀이터
In an interview before the third game, Lee Kang-cheol said, “I’m not kidding, I really think every day is a battle. We play with the mindset that we have to win when we can,” he said, adding, “Everyone is so close together that we have to win first, not the other team’s game. There’s no point in hoping for the other team to win. So we’re just going to focus on our game,” he continued.
Now it’s KT’s turn. Recently, KT’s starting pitchers have recorded six consecutive quality starts (six innings or more and three earned runs or less). Young-pyo Ko’s performance in particular has been so outstanding that he was nominated for the KBO’s July MVP award alongside foreign starter Wes Benjamin and leadoff man Kim Min-hyuk. In the month of July, Ko did not allow a single walk in 27⅔ innings. He threw fewer than 100 pitches in all four games, while going seven innings in three of them. In his first start of August, on August 2 against SSG in Suwon, he pitched eight scoreless innings.
In line with that, starting with leadoff man Kim Min-hyuk, Park Byung-ho, Anthony Alford, Hwang Jae-gyun