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Top-ranked baseball club not letting up after becoming 1st to 80 wins

2018/09/14 08:37

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SEOUL, Sept. 14 (Yonhap) -- The Doosan Bears won't stop -- not even after becoming the first South Korean baseball club to 80 wins this season.

The Bears defeated the KT Wiz 10-3 at home, Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, on Thursday to improve to 80-42. In the 37-year history of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), there have been 14 clubs who beat everyone else to the 80-win plateau, not counting the 1999 and 2000 seasons when the league was divided into two divisions. And all 14 of those teams went on to win the pennant.

Park Kun-woo of the Doosan Bears (R) is greeted by his teammates after scoring a run against the KT Wiz during the bottom of the first inning in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Sept. 13, 2018. (Yonhap) Park Kun-woo of the Doosan Bears (R) is greeted by his teammates after scoring a run against the KT Wiz during the bottom of the first inning in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Sept. 13, 2018. (Yonhap)

The Bears appear to be a lock to join that group, as they hold an 11-game lead over the second-place SK Wyverns with 22 games remaining.

But team captain Oh Jae-won channeled his inner Yogi Berra and insisted it isn't over until it's over.

"We're getting close to the finish line," said Oh, who went 2-for-4 with a home run, four RBIs and two runs scored Thursday. "Until we clinch the pennant, we'll focus on every single game and not take our foot off the pedal."

   There's more history on the Bears' side. Of the 14 previous teams that were the first to reach 80 wins, 11 won the Korean Series championship in the postseason.

The Bears are looking for their third Korean Series championship in four years. They won it all in 2015 and 2016, and finished runner-up to the Kia Tigers in 2017.

The Bears climbed to the top on April 7 and have had the sole possession of the lead for all but one day since then. They briefly shared the top spot with the Wyverns on April 28 and haven't had company at the top since.

"Our hitters have been swinging hot bats and hopefully we'll be able to keep this up," said manager Kim Tae-hyung. "We've been getting production from all over the lineup."

   The Bears have been beating the teams they're supposed to beat, though they've struggled -- relatively speaking -- against teams contending for postseason berths.

The Bears are 7-7 against the Wyverns and 6-6 against the Nexen Heroes, who are in fourth place. Facing the third-place Hanwha Eagles, the Bears have been 8-6.

But they have a 12-3 record against the eighth-place Lotte Giants and a 9-2 mark against the NC Dinos, ranked right below the Giants.

The Bears do have a substantial edge over the LG Twins, a fellow Jamsil Stadium tenant, with a perfect 11-0 head-to-head record. The Twins are in fifth place, holding on to the wild-card spot, at 62-62-1 (wins-losses-ties).

Doosan Bears players celebrate their 10-3 victory over the KT Wiz in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Sept. 13, 2018. Clockwise from left: shortstop Kim Jae-ho (52), third baseman Heo Kyoung-min, pitcher Ham Deok-ju, first baseman Oh Jae-il and catcher Park Sei-hyok. (Yonhap) Doosan Bears players celebrate their 10-3 victory over the KT Wiz in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Sept. 13, 2018. Clockwise from left: shortstop Kim Jae-ho (52), third baseman Heo Kyoung-min, pitcher Ham Deok-ju, first baseman Oh Jae-il and catcher Park Sei-hyok. (Yonhap)

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