“Let’s start with the mindset of the opening game” Full-strength KIA’s commander’s meeting was an emotional one
“Let’s start with the opening day spirit”.
The Kia Tigers enter the second half of the season with a three-game series against the Doosan Bears at the Gwangju-Kia Champions Field on the 21st. They finished the first half with three wins and three losses and sixth place. Their goal for the second half is to qualify for autumn baseball. Last year, they finished fifth and held a wild-card spot. This year, they are looking to do even better.
Their opponents in the second half are tough. Their first opponent, Doosan, has won nine straight games to climb to third place in the Pajok Giseo. They will be looking to extend their winning streak to 10 games with ace Raul Alcantara as their starting pitcher. KIA, who were on a six-game winning streak at the end of the first half, will also send Mario Sanchez. They will need to stop Doosan’s winning streak and maintain their momentum.
They will then play three games in a row against fourth-placed NC in Game 2, followed by three games against fifth-placed Lotte in Game 1. These are the opponents that KIA will need to overcome if they want to make a push for the top spot. If the deficit grows in the nine-game series, they may lose the power to fight back later. “The first nine games are the most important,” said coach Kim Jong-guk at Champions Field on the 20th. The players know that. We must gain strength here.”
Kim called a meeting ahead of training, saying: “Starting tomorrow, even though it’s the second half of the season, let’s start with the mindset of starting the season. I want the players who did well in the first half to do even better, and the players who didn’t do well can make up for it in the second half,” he said. It was an emotional meeting. The players made adjustments for the second half through the last training session in tension.
KIA’s strength for the second half is complete. At the start of the season, they were without Na Sung-bum, the “Fixer”, and Kim Do-young, the “Chance Acre”, was injured after just two games. Leadoff hitter Choi Won-jun returned to full health on 13 June, and Na Sung-beom and Kim Do-young returned on 23 June to form a strong batting lineup. The team also bolstered its catcher position with the trade acquisition of Kim Tae-gun.
In addition, the team made the decision to replace two foreign pitchers by bringing in Mario Sanchez and Thomas Pannoni. Prior to this, Seo Jae-heng, a rehabilitation group coach, was called up as the main pitching coach for the first team. Closer Jung Hae-young, who struggled in the first half of the year, also succeeded in recovering his form after an adjustment period. The mound, defence, and offence (batting and baserunning) were greatly strengthened.스포츠토토
The atmosphere also changed significantly, and the team turned things around with a 7-2 record (2nd place) in July. Coach Kim asked the players to “start with the mindset of the opening game” and rebound with full strength. It will be interesting to see if they can do that in the nine-game series against Doosan, NC, and Lotte. In particular, the first three games against Doosan, who are on the rise, will be a good indicator of the second half of the season.