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Nexen Heroes undone by poor defense, pitching in baseball postseason

All Headlines 22:50 October 17, 2016

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 17 (Yonhap) -- They say pitching and defense help you win championships in baseball, and the Nexen Heroes sorely missed both as they bowed out of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) postseason Monday.

The Heroes blew a 4-0 lead to fall to the Twins 5-4 at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. They lost the best-of-five first round series in four games, with shaky defense contributing to two LG runs.

The Heroes put up a four-spot in the top second to take what looked to be a commanding lead. But in the third, Oh Ji-hwan put the Twins on the board with a single, and they cut the deficit in half on an error by Nexen shortstop Kim Ha-seong.

With mend at first and second, Chae Eun-seong hit a grounder up the middle. Kim slid over to make the grab and tried to get the force at second with a toss.

Nexen Heroes' shortstop Kim Ha-seong (L) reacts after making a throwing error in the bottom third in their Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) postseason game against the LG Twins at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Oct. 17, 2016. (Yonhap)

The ball went up too high for second baseman Seo Geon-chang to make a leaping catch, and after Seo dropped the ball, Luiz Jimenez, who'd taken third on the play, alertly went home to make it 4-2. Seo and Kim helplessly watched the play unfold.

The Twins loaded the bases on three singles In the bottom fifth, and Nexen first baseman Yoon Suk-min dropped a routine foul fly off the bat of Chae to keep the rally going.

Given the reprieve, Chae didn't have to swing the bat to keep the line moving, as reliever Kim Sang-su hit him to let in the Twins' third run.

The Twins tied the game when Yang Suk-hwan, the next batter, hit into a fielder's choice.

Deflated by these defensive miscues, the Heroes never scored again. And Oh's go-ahead single with two outs in the eighth dealt the Heroes the final blow.

Nexen Heroes' first baseman Yoon Suk-min drops a foul fly in the bottom fifth in their Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) postseason game against the LG Twins at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Oct. 17, 2016. (Yonhap)

On the mound, the Heroes got just four-plus innings out of starter Scott McGregor, who gave up nine hits and was charged with three earned runs. He was pitching on three days' rest.

Three relief pitchers walked the tightrope for three innings, and then closer Kim Se-hyun, who led the league with 36 saves in the regular season, couldn't preserve the tie game in the bottom of the eighth.

The right-hander issued two straight walks with one out. He retired cleanup Luis Jimenez on a flyout, but couldn't get past Oh, who dumped a single to shallow right to drive in the winning run.

The Twins' starter, Ryu Jae-kuk, did even worse than McGregor, but the bullpen made all the difference.

Ryu lasted just two innings -- shortest outing by any starter so far this postseason -- but six relief pitchers blanked the Heroes for seven innings, while allowing just two hits.

Veteran right-hander Lee Dong-hyun worked 2 1/3 innings before leaving the game with a calf injury. Yoon Ji-woong and Kim Ji-yong then took over, and the three combined to retire 11 straight Heroes in one stretch. They kept the Twins in the game long enough for the bats to come through late.


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