I took the test with rice wine… I was the runner-up, shocking 8 games to none.

For the second day in a row, Kiwoom Heroes suffered a shocking late-game loss. It started in the last two days. Over the weekend, Kiwoom played an away series against SSG Landers in Incheon. On the first day of the three-game series, Kiwoom led 2-1 until the top of the ninth inning, but a combination of a shaky closer, Im Chang-min, and defensive errors led to a tying sacrifice fly by Park Sung-hyun and a game-tying hit by Kim Sung-hyun. It was a 3-2 loss.

The aftermath continued the next day. Kim Sung-jin gave up the tying solo home run to Jeon Eui-san in the bottom of the eighth inning, and in the extra innings, Yang Hyun gave up the game-winning hit to Kim Min-sik in the bottom of the 10th inning, resulting in another 1-2 loss. It was the second consecutive day of losses in the same situation and in the same fashion.

Kiwoom has lost three games in a row, and it’s a tough pill to swallow. The problem is that they haven’t won against SSG this season. The team’s record against SSG this season is “8 losses in 8 games”. It’s a dishonorable record.

Kiwoom and SSG were two of the best teams to face off in the Korean Series last year. In 2022, Kiwoom may have lacked the two-hitting power of SSG, but they were a formidable opponent. As runners-up in the Korean Series, Kiwoom became the ‘shining losers’.

This year, however, they look like a completely different team. Kiwoom’s lineup has been upgraded from last year. Outside players such as Lee 스포츠토토 Hyung-jong, Won Jong-hyun, and Im Chang-min have joined the team, and Lee Won-seok was acquired via trade. The only change is in the composition of the foreign players, with outfielder Edison Russell doing as well as Yasiel Puig did last year. Head coach Hong Won-ki, who was re-signed after last season, has steadied the ship, but things have been strangely inconsistent.

Kiwoom recently engaged in an act of cheating at a Gochuk home game by sprinkling salt and rice wine near the dugout. Kiwoom currently sits at the bottom of the standings alongside the Hanwha Eagles and KT Wiz. More than just a desire to climb the standings, the team was frustrated that they weren’t performing as well as expected. But the bullpen collapse, coupled with the team’s overall batting slump in the weekend series, has left a sore spot on their backs.

There are still nearly 90 games to go. The season is long, but there needs to be a definite bounce-back factor if the runner-up team is going to show its true colors again this year.

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