KT Wiz’s 2023 reversal drama, where will it end? The ‘Steel Magic’ finally lifted the team from a -14 win-loss margin to third place in the league.
The KT Wiz won the first game of their weekend series against the Doosan Bears 4-3 at Jamsil Stadium on Thursday, extending their winning streak to seven games since July 28 against the Changwon NC Dinos.
With the win, KT improved to 48 wins, 43 losses, and two draws, leapfrogging Doosan, which is 46 wins, 43 losses, and one draw, into third place in the league. The team has gone from a -14 win-loss margin in early June to +5 in just two months.
KT’s seven-game winning streak is the first seven-game winning streak in 391 days since 2022, when the team won seven straight games from June 30 against the Daegu Samsung Lions to July 9 against the Suwon Lotte Giants. It’s been 107 days since their last win in third place, against the Suwon SSG Landers on April 19, at the very beginning of the season.
The key to the Steel Magic is their starting pitching. At one point in the season, the team was at the bottom of the league, as foreign pitcher Bo Schulcer struggled and Choi Soo-joon was out for the season due to injury. They were in seventh place at the end of the first half.
However, Ko Young-pyo has been solid with nine consecutive quality starts (6+ innings, 3 earned runs or less) and Wes Benjamin has shaken off his ups and downs. The reintroduction of championship-winning pitcher William Cuevas in place of Schuler and the addition of Choi Jeong-seong and Uhm Sang-baek to KT’s uniquely thick starting rotation changed the game.
Especially in the second half of the season, the starting pitchers have been competing in a “pitching relay. In the last three days, the average ERA of the second half is 2.22.
“At the beginning of the season, I really wanted to cry,” KT manager Lee Kang-cheol said before the game, “but now we’re in third place.” He laughed. “The starting pitchers, led by Ko Young-pyo, have found their place. They are all pitching well, so their concentration is stronger. Even if the batters don’t hit well, we win because the seniors take care of it. We also get lucky. Isn’t this the flow of a ‘good team’?” he said, hiding his satisfaction.
The solidity of the Steel Magic shone through in this game as well. KT scored the first run in the top of the first inning, taking advantage of Doosan starter Kim Dong-joo’s struggles with his pitches. One inning later, Kim Sang-soo Alford drew back-to-back walks, and in the second inning, Hwang Jae-gyun and Lee Ho-yeon drew back-to-back walks to put runners on second and third without a hit.
KT relievers also gave up walks to Doosan’s Kim Jae-ho in the first inning and Rojas in the second. Especially in the second inning, Kang Seung-ho singled and Song Seung-hwan sacrificed to put runners on first and third. Yang Chan-yeol’s grounder to center field saved the day.
In the bottom of the third inning, Hwang gave up back-to-back singles to Doosan’s Heo Kyung-min and Jeong Soo-bin to put runners on second and third, and Yang Seok-hwan’s sacrifice fly and Yang Ji’s single made it 1-2. Rojas then singled and Kang Seung-ho walked to load the bases, but the inning ended without further damage.
Meanwhile, the Doosan bench made a quick move in the top of the fourth, bringing in Choi Seung-yong for starter Kim Dong-joo, but KT tied the game at 2-2 on a sacrifice fly by Kim Min-hyuk.
The KT dugout was packed. Exclusions repaid the trust. Despite leaving runners on base in each of the fourth through sixth innings, Heo Kyung-min’s stolen base in the fourth, Yang Yang-ji’s double in the fifth, and Cho Su-hyung’s stolen base in the sixth helped the team to a sixth-inning, two-run quality start.
Doosan followed suit. In the sixth inning, Kim Myung-shin was followed by Chung Chul-won to save the day. In the top of the seventh, Chung gave up a single to Park Byung-ho and a double to Hwang Jae-gyun.
KT made a late move, but there was no hesitation in its determination. Joo and Son Dong-hyun were brought in one after another. In the bottom of the eighth, Son made an error on Cho’s bunt, which led to a stolen base, a walk, and a single by pinch-hitter Kim In-tae to make it a 3-4 game. However, the fourth pitcher, Park Young-hyun, came on in relief and struck out pinch-hitter Kim Jae-hwan to keep the game tied.
Doosan made no secret of its intention to win the game, using Park Chi-guk in the eighth and Hong Gun-hee in the ninth. KT’s offense in the top of the ninth ended with a triple play.
Manager Lee Kang-cheol pushed for Park Young-hyun. Doosan was also persistent. In the bottom of the ninth, the first batter, Heo Kyung-min, walked, bringing in pinch-hitter Lee Yoo-chan. Jung Soo-bin laid down a sacrifice bunt to put runners on first and second.
Kim Jae-ho was hit by an infield single, and Yang Seok-hwan was walked on a high pitch. He then struck out Jang Seung-hyun to end the three-hour, 40-minute game with a win. Hwang celebrated his 1,900th game (28th all-time) with a home run and the team’s third-place finish. 토토사이트