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Sputtering offense has NC Dinos in Korean Series hole

All Headlines 17:54 October 30, 2016

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 30 (Yonhap) -- With the temperature dropping in this chilly late autumn, the bats of the NC Dinos have also gone cold in the Korean Series.

One of the most potent offenses in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), the Dinos have managed just one run in the first 20 innings against the Doosan Bears in the league championship series.

After falling 1-0 in 11 innings on Sunday, the Dinos lost 5-1 on Saturday. They find themselves in a 2-0 hole in the best-of-seven series, and only two teams -- the 2007 SK Wyverns and the 2013 Samsung Lions -- have overcome that deficit to win the Korean Series.

In fact, they're the only two clubs to even win a game after losing the first two. Both of them did it against the Bears, though, if that's any consolation to the Dinos.

And the Dinos could use any help they can get -- psychological or otherwise -- to revive their sputtering offense.

In Game 1, they had no answer against Doosan right-hander Dustin Nippert, who was perfect through five and held them to just two hits over eight shutout innings.

Lee Jong-wook of the NC Dinos reaches on an RBI single against the Doosan Bears in Game 2 of the Korean Series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Oct. 30, 2016. (Yonhap)

They did have five at-bats with men in scoring position but didn't get a hit.

In Sunday's Game 2, the Dinos didn't lack for opportunities, but they took themselves out of those chances by hitting into four double plays.

Lee Jong-wook led off the game with a single off Doosan starter Chang Won-jun, who then induced a double play ball off the bat of Park Min-woo.

The Dinos would get nine singles off Chang in 8 2/3 innings, but only one of them came with men in scoring position.

It was Lee's RBI single in the top eighth, which tied the game at 1-1. But the Bears came right back with four runs in the bottom half of that inning to seal the deal.

Lee was the lone bright spot for the Dinos, as he went 3-for-4 from the leadoff spot.

The heart of their order, featuring some of the most feared sluggers in the league during the regular season, was quiet for the second straight game.

In Game 1, Na Sung-bum, Eric Thames, Park Sok-min and Lee Ho-jun, their Nos. 3 to 6 hitters, went 1-for-14 with three strikeouts. They weren't much better in Game 2, combining for three hits in 15 at-bats with two strikeouts.

In the regular season, they hit 115 of the Dinos' 169 home runs and had 425 of the team's 808 RBIs. Suffice it to say, the Dinos' offense will go only as far as they can take them, and their collective struggles are the main reason that they've dropped the first two games of the series.

Their manager Kim Kyung-moon was just as flabbergasted as anyone else watching the series unfold.

"Since we've had some earlier postseason experience, I figured our guys would start swinging the bat better today," Kim said. "It didn't quite work out that way. We don't have quite the depth to our starting rotation as Doosan, and we need our bats to start hitting."

The series now moves to the Dinos' home at Masan Stadium in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, some 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul. Kim said he hopes home cooking will help turn the tide in the series.

"If we play well in Game 3, then the momentum will be on our side," he added. "It's crucial to get the first win out of the way."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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