With back against wall in Korean Series, Bears’ manager hoping bats will wake up
SEOUL, Time is running out for the Doosan Bears’ slumping hitters to wake up in the Korean Series, or their season will be over Tuesday.
The Bears are trailing the NC Dinos 3-2 in the best-of-seven championship round. They’ve been shut out in back-to-back games, losing 3-0 and then 5-0. They have been held scoreless in their past 19 innings. They’re batting .222 as a team.
Doosan manager Kim Tae-hyoung feels helpless, too. There’s only so much he can say.
“I just told them to relax,” Kim said, when asked if he had any special message for his batters.
“I think the guys have to be aggressive and get on base,” the manager continued. “We need to put a few runs on the board to lift pressure off our pitchers. If not, we’re putting pitchers in a tough spot.”
The Dinos are the better-rested team of the two in this series, having earned a bye after winning the regular season title and going 16 days between games. The Bears, as the No. 3 seed, have played two playoff rounds to get here.
But Kim rejected the notion that his batters have hit a wall physically. The Bears swept the LG Twins in two straight games in the first round and then beat the KT Wiz in four games in the best-of-five second round.
“Our position players have had some time off along the way,” Kim said. “I don’t think players like Kim Jae-hwan and Oh Jae-il are running on fumes now.”
Kim Jae-hwan is batting just 1-for-20 in the series out of the cleanup spot, while Oh, the 2019 Korean Series MVP, is only hitting 3-for-17.
Manager Kim wouldn’t commit to a starter for Game 7 — “We’ll use someone who doesn’t pitch today,” he said — but he may have his starter Chris Flexen available out of the bullpen in the seventh game if they get there.
Flexen started Monday, and took the loss after allowing three runs in six innings on 108 pitches. He was the winning pitcher in Game 2 last Wednesday by holding the Dinos to a run over six innings. He pitched in relief to close out the Wiz in the previous series.
“I cannot say 100 percent yet. I’ve got to see how my body feels,” Flexen said of his possible availability for Game 7 Wednesday. “But I wouldn’t say it’s completely out of the question yet.”
Flexen had his regular season disrupted by multiple injuries, but he has been the Bears’ most trusted workhorse in the postseason. He threw 16 1/3 innings of two-run ball over the first two rounds, and then has made two quality starts in the Korean Series. Through it all, Flexen’s mindset hasn’t changed.
“I never feel any added pressure,” he said. “My goal is always to give us the best chance to win a game. I was able to do that early on in the playoffs. It gives me a lot of confidence that (the team was) able to give me the ball as frequently.”
Source: Yonhap News Agency