The Giants make a comeback to win the championship, but the result is a disastrous failure.
The Lotte Giants’ mound operation against the LG Twins in Jamsil on April 24 was eye-catching.
In the bottom of the third inning, down 0-3, Lotte manager Larry Sutton decided to pull starting pitcher Charlie Barnes with one out. At the time, Barnes was up to 44 pitches, which was a pretty comfortable count. However, when Barnes induced a grounder to Kim Hyun-soo after a leadoff walk to get the first out, pitching coach Bae Young-soo rushed to the mound and handed the ball to Barnes.
Even before the start of the third inning, Lotte had Barnes’ replacement in mind. After the defense in the bottom of the second inning, right-handed sidearm Han Hyun-hee began to warm up in the bullpen. Han, who recently made the switch from the starting rotation to the bullpen, is a multi-inning pitcher, so his appearance hinted at a possible replacement for Barnes.
Barnes didn’t pitch well on this day. He got off to a shaky start in the first inning, giving up an infield single to leadoff hitter Hong Chang-ki and a single to left-center to Moon Sung-joo. In the second inning, after back-to-back singles, a fastball changeup to Son Ho-young turned into a three-run shot to left field. In the third inning, Moon gave up a leadoff single to Sung-ju Moon. However, after back-to-back singles, a strikeout and a groundout ended the inning, and a fielder’s choice loaded the bases in the third. Neither the score nor the pitch count warranted a starter change. Still, Sutton made a decision. While there was some speculation about Barnes’ injury or conditioning, Lotte cited “poor performance due to conditioning, not a specific injury” as the reason for the change.
After being swept by KT Wiz in a midweek three-game series, Lotte bounced back with a win at LG Electronics in Jamsil on the 23rd, tying the game in the eighth and coming back to win in the ninth, improving its win-loss margin from +10 to +2. On the 24th, it was time for LG Electronics to keep the momentum going. Barnes’ decision to pull Barnes early could be seen as a statement of intent from both Sutton and the Lotte bench.
However, the result was not to be. Han Hyun-hee, who took the mound unexpectedly, put herself in scoring position with a wild pitch, a walk, and an error at first base, and eventually gave up a two-run double to Moon Bo-kyung. Kim Min-sung followed with a single to right-center, turning the 0-3 score into a 0-6 deficit. Any chance of a comeback was gone.
Lotte’s bullpen hasn’t had much time to spare lately. The bullpen, which held up well in the early part of the season, is showing the effects of fatigue and struggling to accumulate wins. This was the case during the midweek three-game series against KT. In all three games, 11 bullpen pitchers took the mound as the starters failed to complete the first six innings. On the 23rd, against LG in Jamsil, Park “Ace of Glasses” Se-woong pitched eight innings to relieve some of the pressure on the bullpen. As it turned out, the bullpen could have been relieved a bit more if Barnes had gone a few more innings 아톰카지노 against LG on the 24th.
Sutton has emphasized that the goal this season is not to make the postseason, but to win. The team’s win-loss margin has been eroded, but they’re still in position to make a run at the division lead, so it’s reasonable to want to win. However, there is a sense of impatience and anxiety in Lotte’s demeanor at this point in the season, when they haven’t even turned the corner. At this rate, it’s doubtful that a second-half rebound will be forthcoming.