The Kia Tigers, who were a long shot for fall baseball at the beginning and middle of the season, turned things around with a strong offensive performance. With hitters all over the lineup who could get a hit at any time, they wore down pitchers.
But Kia doesn’t just rely on its long balls. One of the reasons for their success is that most of the time, whatever they do, it produces good results. Operational baseball has come into play at crucial moments, including the timing of at-bats. Even the league-leading LG Twins were tongue-in-cheek about KIA’s strategy.메이저놀이터
Kia collected three wins in four games, including a doubleheader against LG in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at KIA Champions Field in Gwangju on August 8-10. The team moved up one spot in the standings from fifth to fourth and is within striking distance of a third-place finish.
After falling 2-12 on the first day of the series, KIA battled back to take game one of the doubleheader the next day, and then took game two of the doubleheader to take game 10. During that time, KIA hit just three home runs. In fact, aside from Choi Hyung-woo’s pinch-hit grand slam and Na Sung-bum’s two-run shot in Game 2, the team didn’t make a big impression with home runs.
Rather, it was their maneuvers and active infield play that led to runs and wins. The most prominent of these was the “pinch-hitter Go Jong-wook” card, who came in as a pinch-hitter in the first and second games of the doubleheader and hit RBI singles in both games to set the stage for victory.
In game 10, KIA came out firing on all cylinders and confused the LG infield from the start. Starting with Kim Do-young’s stolen base in the bottom of the first inning, Kia recorded eight stolen bases on the day, breaking the team’s record for most stolen bases in a single game this season. Even if you expand the scope of the Tigers’ franchise history to include the Hae-tae era, it’s still tied for second all-time.
The players and coaches are also pleased with the success of the operation. Choi Won-jun, who stole three bases in the 10-game series, shared his thoughts, “I think the players know when the manager is going to make a move, so they can prepare accordingly, and whenever that happens, the team atmosphere seems to come alive.”
When asked by reporters if he felt like he was hitting his stride, Kia head coach Kim Jong-guk, who has been having a lot of fun with the substitute card lately, smiled and said, “The players did a great job,” and then gave credit to the players for executing the plan perfectly, saying, “The veterans did their part in the chances.”
But Kim’s game plan is clearly having a positive effect on the team. Going back to the bottom of the fifth inning of the second game of the doubleheader on September 9, with the bases loaded and down 3-5 to LG, Go Jong-wook was the first player KIA brought to the plate. After his single, KIA immediately called up Choi Hyung-woo, and the result was a pinch-hit home run.
“I thought there was a high probability that Go Jong-wook would solve the problem first because he has more experience as a pinch hitter, and Choi Hyung-woo has less experience as a pinch hitter (relatively) because he is a starter, so (the team) can afford it,” explained manager Kim Jong-guk, who was torn between the two cards at the time.
A mismatch between the manager’s goals and the players’ ability to execute the game plan is not a good thing, but KIA is doing a good job with both. It’s not just the strength of the team, but the fact that they are working as a ‘team’ that is the team’s driving force.