By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, July 21 (Yonhap) -- Doosan Bears' manager Kim Tae-hyoung believes he knows when to fire up his team with some pregame pep talk.
And in his mind, Tuesday didn't call for one.
The Bears will host the Seoul rivals Kiwoom Heroes for a three-game series at home, Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul, starting Tuesday evening. With the Bears leading the Heroes by one game in second place in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), this is as big as a midweek series can get at this point of a season, with the 10 clubs nearing the halfway mark of a 144-game schedule.
The opening game will feature a tantalizing pitching matchup, too, with the Bears sending the fireballer Raul Alcantara against the Heroes' crafty lefty Eric Jokisch. The two pitchers are tied for the league lead in wins with nine and are among the KBO leaders in ERA, innings pitched and walks and hits per innings pitched.
The series also pits two of the best offensive teams in the league against one another, and both lineups feature some of the most dangerous bats in the league.
Asked if he'd given any special message to his pitchers in particular, Kim said he chose to keep his mouth shut.
"Whatever I say at this point will only put more pressure on their shoulders," the manager said in his pregame media availability. "They've been doing well, and I don't think anything I say will necessarily help them anyway. If opposing hitters do well, then hats off to them. Our pitchers have been doing the best they can."
The Bears' relievers had a rocky start to the season, but they have the second-lowest bullpen ERA with 3.97 and opponents' on-base plus slugging percentage with .710 in July.
The Bears are 10-6 for July, third best in the league, while the Heroes are just 7-10 this month.
These two clubs will meet again at Jamsil next Tuesday for another three-game set, after which the Bears will take on the first-place NC Dinos.
"It's a pretty tough schedule," Kim noted. "But we have to keep our focus on one series at a time and not look ahead. Even if we play teams lower in the standings, it won't mean we'll win every game."
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