Hope springs eternal for Lotte in crisis. Lotte breaks the team no-hitter record and starts to fight back.
Lotte won 1-0 against SSG in the ‘2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League’ at Sajik Stadium in Busan on June 6.
It was an intense and close game. Lotte starter Aaron Wilkerson pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out six. He threw 95 pitches. He pitched a perfect game until the sixth inning. His perfect streak was broken in the top of the seventh when he gave up a walk to leadoff hitter Choo Shin-soo, but he got Choi Joo-hwan to fly out to center field with runners on first and second and then struck out Choi Jung with a 131-kilometer changeup to end the inning without allowing a run.
Lotte sent Koo Seung-min to the mound in the top of the eighth inning, and he kept his team’s no-hitter alive by striking out three batters with a powerful fastball that reached 148 kilometers and his signature forkball. At this point, Lotte was also scoreless and the score remained 0-0 until the bottom of the eighth inning, when Lee Jung-hoon, a pinch-hitter, singled to right field and, following a pitcher’s sacrifice bunt by Go Seung-min, Yoon Dong-hee, a pinch-hitter, hit a two-run double to center field to take a valuable 1-0 lead.
Fateful ninth inning. Lotte turned to their closer, Kim Won-joong. Kim Won-joong had taken the loss in the previous day’s game against Sajik SSG, giving up three runs on two hits in 1⅓ innings and reaching a pitch count of 28. However, Lotte didn’t have an alternative.
Down by one run, the pressure was on. Kim Won-joong got the first two outs with a forkball, but gave up a walk to Choo Shin-soo and a wild pitch to Choi Ji-hoon to put runners on second and third. However, Kim’s 150-kilometer fastball was strong enough to induce a grounder to the first baseman on a full count, giving him the final out and securing the 1-0 victory and the team’s no-hitter.
Lotte’s team no-hitter ranks as the third-longest in KBO history. Prior to Lotte, LG set the record for the first-ever team no-hitter against NC on October 6, 2014, and SSG achieved the feat on April 2, 2022, against NC, starting with the opening game. Until now, teams that achieved a team no-hitter had a 100% chance of advancing to fall baseball.
In 2014, LG was a miracle team. After finishing second in the 2013 regular season and reaching the postseason for the first time in 11 years, the team stumbled out of the gate in 2014 and ended up hovering near the bottom of the standings after manager Kim Ki-tae resigned.
Under new manager Yang Sang-moon, LG suffered the humiliation of a no-hitter against Charlie Shreck in Jamsil NC on June 25, but the team’s stability on the mound and the bats exploded, climbing up the standings and getting revenge with a team no-hitter against NC again in Jamsil on October 6. On that occasion, LG’s starter Shin Jeong-rak pitched a perfect 7⅓ innings without giving up a hit with two walks and nine strikeouts, while Yoo Won-sang and Shin Jae-woong pitched 1⅓ innings each and also did not give up a hit. The score remained 1-0. Lee Jin-young’s RBI single in the bottom of the ninth completed the team’s no-hitter. After finishing the regular season in fourth place that year, LG rode the momentum into the playoffs.토토사이트
SSG carried the momentum of their no-hitter from the previous year’s opening game into the Korean Series. With this victory, they became the first team in history to win wire-to-wire. SSG starting pitcher Wilmer Font nearly threw the first perfect game in KBO history by not allowing a single batter to reach base for nine innings, but SSG was unable to make history as they were unable to score until the ninth inning. Still, SSG took a 4-0 lead in the top of the 10th inning, and in the bottom of the 10th inning, Kim Taek-hyung gave up one hit and one walk, but struck out two to complete the no-hitter.
In fact, it is difficult to achieve a team no-hitter without a strong pitching staff. Lotte has also seen Wilkerson, who was acquired before the start of the second half of the season, adjust to the KBO smoothly, and the pitching staff has been stabilizing lately. Add to that the strength of the batting lineup, and there’s plenty of room for Lotte to bounce back. Still, Lotte is in seventh place with 43 wins and 49 losses (.467 winning percentage). They are 4.5 games out of fifth place Doosan. It will be interesting to see if Lotte can capitalize on their team no-hitter and continue their 100% record of reaching fall baseball after a team no-hitter.