Has spring come to the Lotte Giants?
Fans who filled the Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan sang ‘Busan Seagull’ and exchanged high fives as if they had won the Korean Series.
On the 30th of last month, Lotte won 5-3 after an active attack against Ahn Woo-jin, who was the ‘2023 KBO League’ Kiwoom Heroes match at the Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan. While the game was sold out in 2,000 days after Lee Dae-ho’s retirement game, Lotte continued its remarkable rise.
8 consecutive wins in 4705 days since June 12, 2010, and 1st place in the regular season with 39.49 million since July 7, 2012 (based on 10 games or more). This incident occurred when former coaches Jerry Royster and former coach Yang Seung-ho took the baton.
Lotte, which has won 8 consecutive wins in 13 years, is now facing May at the sole 1st place. Ahead of the season opening, few experts picked Lotte as the favorite to win. It was not even mentioned as a candidate for the round of 5. Most of them evaluated Lotte Electric Power as a low-ranking company.
But now, ‘Top De’ is also engraved on the uniform numbers of Lotte fans. Lotte club officials and players are spending a dream-like spring day. Merchants inside and outside the stadium are also full of joy.
The month of May, when they reach the top spot alone, is exciting, but at the same time anxious. Lotte, which always shines and fades at the beginning of the season, is a team with an unpleasant nickname of ‘Bomde’ amid the sarcastic remarks that it is only good in spring.
Last season, Lotte recorded 14 wins, 1 draw and 9 losses (0.609 win rate) in April, ranking second after SSG (19 wins, 1 draw and 5 losses). In terms of the number of wins, it is the same as this year. However, they fell to the bottom of the table without even winning 10 games in May. The sudden sluggishness of Geopo Han Dong-hee and injuries to key players led to a sharp weakening of power. Once again, the word ‘bomde’ was heard here and there.
The voices of anticipation are growing louder, saying, “Will this year be really different?” This is because a persistent team color is emerging. More than half of the 14 wins are come-from-behind wins. The absurd defense that pours cold water has also decreased a lot. Currently, Lotte’s team mistakes are second (13). The team batting average is also second in the league (0.304).
Compared to last season, Lotte has a thicker player base. The catcher, which was a chronic problem, was also resolved by recruiting Yoo Kang-nam for 4 years and 8 billion won in the FA market. Even veterans who were released but immediately felt a sense of power also joined the bullpen. It is different from the season where we relied on a few key players ㅋㅋㅋ벳.
No more words are needed as the image of ‘Bomde’ is strong. If the current uptrend is broken in early May, the fear of ‘Bomde’ may strike the players again. Experts who were surprised or fans who had high expectations might say, “It’s spring again.” That’s why this week’s schedule is so important.
The schedule for the first week is tough. This week, Lotte will play 6 matches against the KIA Tigers (Gwangju) and Samsung Lions (Busan). Although it is not up to the rise of Lotte, which has risen to first place alone, both teams, like Lotte, have overcome sluggishness at the beginning of the opening and entered the middle ranks by winning 5 consecutive victories side by side.
KIA swept 3 consecutive matches in about 6 years against the LG Twins at Jamsil Baseball Stadium last weekend. Samsung, which has noticeably increased its concentration, has been winning by 1 point in the last 5 games in a row. They are never good opponents.
Na Gyun-ahn (4 wins, 1.34 ERA), who is struggling in the starting lineup, cannot help but worry about the bullpen overload. Only when Strayley-Barnes, who is suffering a great disappointment, and Park Se-woong, who is not meeting expectations at the beginning of the season, come back to life, Lotte can ride a sustainable upward trend. According to the rotation, all three starters are expected to pitch this week.