First to reach ’40 losses’, no ‘pivotal hitter’ in sight–the reality for last-place Samsung
Every team needs a player to be the centerpiece of their batting lineup.
Right now, the Samsung Lions don’t have anyone who can fulfill that role. Last-place Samsung is facing a sobering reality.
Samsung fell into a four-game losing streak with a 0-6 shutout against SSG Landers in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on March 23.
The loss dropped Samsung’s season record to 26-40 (.394), leaving them in last place after being the first of 10 clubs to reach the 40-loss mark. The Hanwha Eagles’ win over the NC Dinos also widened the gap between ninth-place Hanwha and 10th-place Samsung by 1.5 games.
After scoring a combined three points in their midweek three-game series against the Kiwoom Heroes, Samsung held a post-game meeting the previous day, during which Samsung head coach Park Jin-man delivered a message to his players to play confidently and without hesitation.
After playing the ‘three catchers at the same time’ card in the three-game series against the KT Wiz last weekend, Samsung turned to Kim Dong-yeop in the first game of the three-game series this weekend. By starting Kim Dong-yeop in the lineup, the team hoped to maximize its offensive output with the long-hitting right-handed slugger.
However, Samsung’s offense remained unchanged from the midweek series. They went scoreless in back-to-back innings in the top of the second and third innings with the leadoff batter on base, and were unable to score in the top of the sixth inning with the bases loaded. Meanwhile, the gap between the two teams grew to five runs as starter Baek Jeong-hyun gave up four runs in the first inning and one in the second.
Even after SSG activated its bullpen, Samsung couldn’t make things easier. An error and a hit put runners on second and third in the top of the eighth, and a walk to leadoff hitter Jose Pirela squandered a bases-loaded opportunity in the top of the ninth.
Of course, there were some bright spots, such as Kang Kang-ul, who was the only player on the team to record a multi-hit game (2-for-3), and Kim Dong-yeop, who finished 2-for-4 with a hit and a walk, but most of the players in the lineup remained silent throughout the game. The center field lineup of Kim Hyun-joon, Pirela, and Kim Jae-sung combined for just one hit in 10 at-bats.
The Samsung bench tried everything they could, even without two of their top hitters in Koo Ja-uk and Oh Jae-il, but the fact that the result didn’t change shows that it wasn’t just one or two players, but the entire team.