Eagles drop to last place as Giants move out of cellar in KBO

Hanwha Eagles starter Ryu Hyun-jin finishes a match during a Korea Baseball Organization regular-season game at Daejeon, a city located in the middle of Korea, May 14. Yonhap

For the first time this season in Korean baseball, the Hanwha Eagles now find themselves in a place eerily familiar to them — at the bottom of the standings.

The combination of the Eagles’ 8-4 loss to the LG Twins and the Lotte Giants’ 10-6 victory over the Kia Tigers on Thursday night meant the Eagles and the Giants traded places.

The Giants had been in last place in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) since April 23, but clawed out of the cellar by sweeping the first-place Tigers at home in the southeastern city of Busan. Having won three straight, the Giants now sit at 18-27-2 (wins-losses-ties). For the month of May, they have the second-best record league wide at 10-6-1.

The Eagles, on the other hand, dropped to 19-29-1 Thursday, as their three-game winning streak was halted.

Much of the good vibes from earlier in the season has mostly disappeared for the Eagles as injuries began to pile up.

They were in first place 10 games into the season, with an 8-2 record. And this was before Ryu Hyun-jin, a former major league All-Star pitcher who had rejoined the Eagles in February, had even won a game.

Signing Ryu was a huge coup for the Eagles in the off-season. Even at age 37, the left-hander was expected to lead the way for what pundits saw as a strong rotation. Felix Pena and Ricardo Sanchez, the team’s two foreign starters, were back for another 추천 go after solid 2023 seasons. The reigning Rookie of the Year Moon Dong-ju appeared ready for a breakout. Kim Min-woo was deemed more than capable of holding down a spot in the back end.

The Eagles had made the postseason just once between 2008 and 2023, and had finished either last or second-to-last every season from 2019 to 2023. This was supposed to be the year when the dubious streak would end, and the Eagles’ quick start seemed to validate such preseason hype.

However, starting pitching has been one of the Eagles’ weaknesses so far. Ryu is 3-4 with an uncharacteristic ERA of 4.83, though he has pitched better lately. Both Pena and Sanchez are out with injuries. Sanchez, leading the rotation with a 3.35 ERA, has been out since May 17 with elbow problems. Pena took a batted ball off his pitching hand on May 15 and hasn’t pitched since. Kim underwent season-ending elbow surgery on April 30 after pitching in only three games. Moon was demoted to the minor league on April 29 after posting an 8.78 ERA through his first six starts, and only returned Tuesday this week.

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