Reshaping the race…Kia-NC to decide fifth place in final two-game series

The Kia Tigers are keeping their hopes alive for a fifth-place finish despite missing a number of key players.

The Tigers picked up a 2-1 home win against the Samsung Lions in the 2023 KBO League at Kia Champions Field in Gwangju on April 8. Starting pitcher Yoon Young-cheol pitched six innings of four-hit ball, allowing one run on four hits, and reliever Jung Hae-young preserved the lead after Kim Tae-gun hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth inning with the score tied 1-1.

KIA is in sixth place, three games behind the fifth-place NC Dinos, who lost to the SSG Landers on Sunday. With only six games remaining, the team’s chances of overtaking the fifth spot are not high, but given their recent form, it is possible.

KIA’s offense has suffered a major setback with top hitters Na Sung-beom, Choi Hyung-woo, and Park Chan-ho all out for the season with injuries. Outfielder Choi Won-jun, who was selected for the Hangzhou Asian Games (AG) baseball team, also suffered a calf injury in training and is unlikely to play even if he makes the team.

KIA has been struggling without a number of key players. After the departures of Na Sung-beom and Choi Hyung-woo, the team went 7-6 in 13 games. The starting rotation and bullpen have picked up the slack, and the bats have minimized the loss of key players by scoring more than 10 runs on two occasions.

After a nine-game winning streak from Aug. 24, KIA’s two-hit performance dropped off dramatically and they lost 11 of their next 15 games. The team’s struggles in the standings without their main players have been rather uneven.

SSG, which was competing for fifth place until the end of September, saw a sharp rise in its performance, winning six straight games from September 30 onwards to move up to fourth place. Meanwhile, third-place NC has dropped to fifth after losing three of its last 12 games. Given their recent pace, the remaining postseason spots could be seen as a showdown between KIA and NC.

NC plays a two-game series against bottom-ranked Hanwha on Sept. 9-10, followed by the Doosan Bears and LG Twins. KIA will play Samsung on the 9th, followed by SSG, Kiwoom Heroes, Lotte Giants, and Doosan on the 10th-12th. 레고토토

Next week, on April 16-17, NC and KIA will play a two-game series. If the gap between the two teams in this week’s schedule is reduced to two games or less, the final two games could decide which team will advance to the Postseason (PS). The head-to-head record is 7 wins, 1 draw, and 6 losses in 14 games, with KIA leading.

Every year, the top-five battle has been the biggest draw at the end of the regular season. This season is no different.

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