‘The Big Three’: LG, SSG, and Lotte in Game 1 of the Korean Baseball Classic

Professional baseball, which began on April 1 and will play a total of 720 games with 144 games per team, is already one-third of the way through its schedule, and the early season report cards are divided into “three strong, four weak.

As of the 27th, the 2023 KBO League midseason standings were led by the LG Twins (29 wins, 1 tie, 16 losses, 0.644 winning percentage), followed by the SSG Landers (28 wins, 1 tie, 0.636) and the Lotte Giants (26 wins, 15 losses, 0.634), each within 0.5 games of the top three.

The Doosan Bears (22 wins, 1 tie, 21 losses, 0.512) are in fourth place, five games behind third-place Lotte, while the fifth-place NC Dinos (22 wins, 0.500) and sixth-place KIA Tigers (20 wins, 21 losses, 0.488) round out the middle of the pack, each within 0.5 games of each other.

The Samsung Lions (18-25, 0.419) are seventh, three games behind sixth-place KIA and one game ahead of eighth-place Kiwoom Heroes (19-28, 0.404), while KT WIZ (16-2, 0.381) and Hanwha Eagles (16-3, 0.381) are tied for ninth, half a game behind Kiwoom.

On this day, Kia’s iconic ace Yang Hyun-jong (35) reached a new milestone.

Yang pitched a complete-game shutout to lead his team to a 6-3 victory over the LG Twins in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League on Sunday at Kia Champions Field in Gwangju.

With a quality start (six or more innings pitched and no more than three earned runs allowed), Yang gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks in 6⅔ innings, earning his third win of the season.

In addition, Yang has now won 162 games (103 losses) in 16 seasons since joining KIA in 2007, excluding 2021 when he played in the American League, moving him into sole possession of second place on the all-time wins list, ahead of Jung Min-chul (161 wins, formerly of Hanwha).

The KBO’s all-time wins record is 210 (153 wins, 107 saves), held by Song Jin-woo (former Hanwha coach), who retired in 2009.

Among active pitchers, Kim Kwang-hyun (SSG Landers) is tied for fourth with 152 wins (82 losses).

In the bottom of the fourth inning, KIA scored a run on Byun Woo-hyuk’s single to right field with runners on first and second, and then pinch-hitter Lee Chang-jin hit a two-run double to right-center to make it 4-3.

In the fifth inning, Kim Sun-bin doubled in a run, and in the bottom of the sixth, Park Chan-ho singled in a run to make it 6-3.

Lotte scores six runs in the seventh inning, but Kiwoom rallies for five runs in the bottom of the ninth.

At Gocheok Dome, the Lotte Giants held off a late rally by the Kiwoom Heroes, 6-5.

Lotte, which has won three straight games, maintained its third-place position, while eighth-place Kiwoom, which has lost four straight games, saw its eighth-place position jeopardized.

The game was tied at 0-0 through six innings, but the tie was broken in the seventh inning.

Lotte took a 3-0 lead in the top of the seventh as Yoo Kang-nam doubled and Ahn Kwon-soo singled with runners on first and second.

Two batters later, Park Seung-wook doubled down the left field line and Jeon Jun-woo singled, followed by Yoon Dong-hee’s RBI single to push the lead back to three runs, 6-0.

Kiwoom got on the board in the bottom of the ninth when Kim Dong-heon doubled with two outs.

After two walks to load the bases, pinch-hitter Lim Byung-wook hit an RBI single to cut the deficit to 5-6, one run.

However, it was not to be as Lee Jung-hoo was caught on a pitcher’s muffed grounder.

■ Pinch-hitter Kang Baek-ho hits two RBI doubles as KT wins fourth straight over Samsung

In a matchup of foreign aces, the KT WIZ defeated the Samsung Lions 5-2 in Daegu.

KT, which is tied for ninth place, extended its winning streak to four games and moved within half a game of eighth-place Kiwoom Heroes, who lost their fourth straight on the day 안전놀이터.

KT took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning when Kim Min-hyuk singled and Kim Sang-soo doubled to right field with runners on second and third.

After a pitching change, Samsung got one run back when Kang Min-ho hit a solo shot to left field.

However, KT answered in the top of the third when Kang Baek-ho, who pinch-hit with runners on second and third, doubled to left-center to bring in both runners and make it 4-1.

KT added a run in the fourth inning on an RBI single by Park Byung-ho.

Samsung got one run back in the bottom of the fifth inning when Koo Ja-rook drew a bases-loaded walk.

However, the next batter, Kim Dong-jin, was hit by a pitch straight at the pitcher for an infield single, negating any further scoring opportunities.

KT got five innings of four-hit, two-run ball from starter Wes Benjamin before Kim Min-soo, Lee Chae-ho, Joo Wook and Son Dong-hyun each pitched one inning to preserve the win.

Samsung starter David Buchanan took the loss after giving up five runs on 11 hits in four innings.

■ Hanwha holds NC to ‘just two hits’ in 5-0 victory over the Dinos, who committed numerous errors

In Changwon, the Hanwha Eagles managed just two hits and committed two errors and seven walks to defeat the NC Dinos 5-0.

It was Hanwha that broke a tight pitching battle that lasted until the middle innings.

Hanwha scored the first run in the top of the fifth inning with runners on first and second on a sacrifice bunt by Lee Jin-young and an error.

Moon Hyun-bin followed with a two-run double to center field to make it 3-0.

With the game on the line, Hanwha scored two runs in the top of the ninth on three walks, a fielder’s choice and a sacrifice fly to tie the game without a hit.

NC, which pounded out eight hits, had two walks and a hit-by-pitch in its chances.

Hanwha starter Peña allowed five hits and four walks until the sixth inning, but shut down the NC bats with a no-hitter.

Meanwhile, the SSG Landers-Dusan Bears game at Jamsil Stadium was canceled due to rain.