Lotte fails to end losing streak despite batting order change…’nine outs’ frustrating

The Lotte Giants tried to turn the tide with a change in the batting order, but once again failed to snap a losing streak.

The Kim Tae-hyung-managed Lotte remained in last place with a 1-8 loss in the second game of the 2024 Shinhan SOL Bank KBO League Kium Heroes’ season finale at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Wednesday. Lotte, which has lost five straight games, is now 4-13 (.235) on the season.

Starting pitcher Charlie Barnes failed to pick up his fourth win in as many games, allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks with six strikeouts in six innings. It was his first loss of the season. He kept his composure after the four-run third inning and went as many innings as he could.

The batting lineup was the problem, as “table-setters” Kim Min-seok and Choi Hang combined to go 0-for-7, while veteran Jung Hoon went 0-for-4. Starting in the second inning, they were held scoreless for eight consecutive innings. More importantly, they left nine stranded runners on base.

Lotte came out with the following lineup: Kim Min-seok (center field), Choi Hang (second base), Victor Reyes (right field), Jeon Jun-woo (left field), Lee Jung-hoon (designated hitter), Jung-hoon (first base), Lee Hak-joo (shortstop), Yoo Kang-nam (catcher), and Park Seung-wook (third base).

Outfielder Yoon Dong-hee, who has been in a severe slump lately, was dropped from the lineup and Choi Hang was placed in the No. 2 spot. Lee Jung-hoon got his first start in four days, after playing against the Busan Samsung Lions on Sept. 9. Before the game, manager Kim Tae-hyung said, “(Yoon) is not feeling too good at the plate. His timing is always late. I think he has a lot of problems with his batting, so I think it’s okay to watch him from the bench (instead of starting him).”

Lotte took the lead in the top of the first inning with a two-out rally. Reyes and Jeon Jun-woo led off the inning with back-to-back singles, and Lee Jung-hoon followed with an RBI single to give the team its first run. However, Jeong-hoon, who was batting at second and third, was retired on a grounder to end the inning without further damage.

Lotte put pressure on Kim in the top of the second inning with back-to-back singles by Lee Hak-joo and Yoo Kang-nam to put runners on first and second with no outs, but they were unable to capitalize. After Park Seung-wook struck out, Kim Min-seok settled for a 사설토토 grounder to second base to move Lee to third, and Choi Hang, who had moved up in the batting order in a much-anticipated move, hit a fly ball to center field.

Lotte had runners on base in every inning, including the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh, but the results were scoreless, especially in the fifth inning when Jeon Joon-woo drew a walk after Reyes was hit by a pitch. Lotte was unable to close the gap any further in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring four runs on back-to-back home runs by Lee Hyung-jong and Song Sung-moon.

It’s still early in the season, so there’s still plenty of time to close the gap on the teams in the middle of the pack, but the longer the losing streak continues, the more the team’s mood will continue to sink. With Na Kyun-ahn taking the mound on Thursday, it will be interesting to see if Lotte can end the week on a winning note.

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