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(LEAD) Doosan, LG to duke it out in KBO playoff series under one roof

All Headlines 15:21 October 15, 2013
Doosan advances to playoff with 8-5 win over Nexen


(LEAD) Doosan, LG to duke it out in KBO playoff series under one roof
(ATTN: ADDS quotes, details from media day throughout, photo)
By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 15 (Yonhap) -- It will be the "Dugout Series: Part II," as the LG Twins get ready to face the Doosan Bears in the best-of-five second round of the playoffs in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) starting Wednesday.

The two Seoul clubs, who share Jamsil Stadium as their home, will meet in the postseason for the first time since 2000 when the Bears prevailed in six games in what the local media dubbed the Dugout Series as the teams only switched dugouts without ever leaving the stadium.

The LG Twins finished with the second-best regular season record at 74-54 to clinch their first postseason berth since 2002, and will have home field advantage against the fourth-seeded Bears.

The Twins and the Bears split their 16 regular season meetings with eight victories apiece.

Doosan knocked out the No. 3-ranked Nexen Heroes in five games in the opening round. The Bears lost the first two games before storming back to take the next three, including the 8-5 clincher in 13 innings on Monday.

Right-hander Ryu Jae-kuk was announced as the starter for Game 1 at the playoff media day event held later on Tuesday. In two regular season games against the Bears, Ryu, a one-time Chicago Cubs prospect, went 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA in 12 2/3 innings, striking out nine and walking three. He led the Twins with 12 wins in the regular season.

Right-hander Noh Kyung-eun will get the nod for the Bears. He was 1-1 in four regular season starts versus the Twins with a 2.78 ERA, with 14 strikeouts and 11 walks in 22 2/3 innings. Noh went 10-10 this season. He made one start in the previous round, giving up three runs in six innings while striking out seven in a no-decision in Game 3.

Three of the five games between Nexen and Doosan went to extra innings, but there will be little rest for the weary Bears.

They had only two days off between the end of the regular season and the start of the postseason. They are off on Tuesday, and will go right back to the playoff grind on Wednesday.

The Twins, on the other hand, have rested since their regular season ended on Oct. 5.

The winner of this series will go on to face the Samsung Lions, the two-time defending champs, in the Korean Series.

The Twins boasted the best team ERA during the regular season at 3.72, and their staff gave up the fewest home runs with 74.

They succeeded on the mound despite missing Ben Jukich, their most consistent starter the past two seasons, for most of 2013. The American left-hander bounced between the KBO club and its minor league affiliate, while struggling to a 4-6 record in only 15 starts with a 6.30 ERA. Jukich won 21 games combined in 2011 and 2012, and had an ERA under 4.00 in each of the two seasons.

Ryu led the staff with 12 victories in his first KBO season. Radhames Liz, a flamethrower from the Dominican Republic, went 10-13, but led the KBO with 188 strikeouts and ranked second with a 3.06 ERA.

From the bullpen, closer Bong Jung-keun, formerly with the Cincinnati Reds and the Atlanta Braves, had 38 saves, second most in the league. Right-hander Lee Dong-hyun contributed 72 innings in middle relief.

On offense, Lee Byung-kyu won the batting title with a .348 average and drove in 74 runs in just 98 games. Lee was one of four Twins inside the top-10 in batting average: Lee Jin-young (third) batted .329, followed by Park Yong-taek (fourth) at .328 and Jeong Seong-hoon (10th) at .312.

The Twins, though, hit for little power. They had the second fewest long balls with 59, and were the only team without a hitter to reach double figures in home runs.

The Bears are coming off a grueling five-game series against the feisty Heroes. Manager Kim Jin-wook said Monday leadoff man Lee Jong-woo, 33, is among a handful of players who are running on fumes and relying mostly on their mental fortitude to get through games.

A particularly banged up player is Kim Hyun-soo. One of the KBO's most gifted left-handed batters, Kim has battled an ankle injury all season and he appears to have aggravated it during the previous series.

Before and after the games, Kim was seen visibly limping. He was even taken out of the first inning of Game 4 after drawing a walk.

A natural left fielder, Kim played the first two games against Nexen at first base. He started out 0-for-8 at the plate, and the manager put him back in left field, hoping Kim would find himself in a comfort zone.

He wasn't challenged much defensively in left field, but Kim looked overmatched at times at the plate. Unless he starts producing at his normal clip, it could be a short series for the Bears. He was 1-for-15 with four strikeouts against the Heroes, and looked as bad as a career .316 hitter can look.

Right-hander Dustin Nippert started Game 1 against the Heroes but later made two relief appearances, including the disastrous showing in Game 5 in which he served up the game-tying homer to Park Byung-ho with two outs in the ninth.

He may not be ready to start until the third game against the Twins, by which time the Bears could be down two games to none and facing another win-or-go-home situation.

At the media day, Kim Ki-tae, the Twins' manager, said his players are ready to enjoy themselves in the playoffs.

"I hope we can all shake off postseason pressure and play fun and entertaining baseball for our fans," Kim said. "This is what we've been waiting for."

Though the Twins haven't played a game since the first weekend of this month, Kim said he doesn't think such an extended break will have any adverse impact on his club.

"We played 128 games during the season and played meaningful games until the end," the manager said. "During our break, we played two games and let our injured players heal. I don't think we will be out of game shape."

Kim Jin-wook, the Bears' manager, said he is counting on his players to dig deep and fight through another tough series.

"We were considered the underdog against Nexen, and our players overcame their adversity," he said. "Mentally, we're very strong."

There aren't too many carryovers on either team from their last playoff meeting in 2000. Doosan's designated hitter Hong Sung-heun recalled that the Bears in 2000 were a vastly different team from this year's club. The 2000 team was built mostly on power, led by a trio of sluggers, Tyrone Woods, Kim Dong-joo and Shim Jung-soo, who combined for 99 regular season homers. This year, the Bears led the regular season in batting average and steals, with four players stealing at least 20 bases.

Outfielder Lee Byung-kyu for the Twins quipped that he didn't remember much from the 2000 showdown.

"I tend to forget about bad memories pretty quickly," Lee said of the Twins' elimination. "I don't want to remember what happened in 2000. I want to have a fresh start beginning on Oct. 16, 2013."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
(END)

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