November 10, 2002. This is the date of the last Korean Series played by the LG Twins. LG fell two games short of the championship on November 10, 2002, with a 9-10 walk-off loss to Samsung in Game 6 of the Korean Series at Daegu Stadium.
It would be a long time before LG made it back to the Korean Series. It would be a whopping 21 years. On November 7, 2023, LG played Game 1 of the Korean Series for the first time in 7667 days.
Foreign pitcher Casey Kelly will take the mound. Manager Yoon Kyung-yeop said at the media day on June 6, “Kelly has developed a pitch that can take a step forward while preparing for the series in the pennant race. I thought he would have a good outing. I hope he pitches well in Game 1.”
Kelly has been playing for LG for five years now. This is his first Korean Series appearance. In 30 games this season, he has a 10-7 record with a 3.83 ERA. This is his worst performance in the last four years. He went 14-12 with a 2.55 ERA in 2019, 15-7 with a 3.32 ERA in 2020, 13-8 with a 3.15 ERA in 2021, and 16-4 with a 2.54 ERA in 2022.
He was 6-5 with a 4.44 ERA in 18 games in the first half, but improved to 4-2 with a 2.90 ERA in 12 games in the second half. His performance against KT was much better in the second half than the first, so he is expected to start Game 1 of the Korean Series.
Kelly went 1-1 with a 3.96 ERA in four starts against KT this season. In 25 innings, he allowed 22 hits (two home runs), three walks, 19 strikeouts, 11 runs (11 earned) and a .237 batting average.
He faced KT in the opener and was tagged for six runs in 5⅓ innings, then struggled on July 6 with five runs in 5⅔ innings. However, the second half of the season saw him go 14 scoreless innings. On September 6, he tossed seven innings of two-hit shutout ball, and on September 27, he picked up the win with seven innings of five-hit ball.
Among KT’s hitters, Kang Baek-ho, who was strong against Kelly, is out with an injury. Kang was 6-for-6 with two doubles, one home run, and two RBIs against Kelly. However, he was unable to make the roster due to a side muscle injury sustained during the Blue-White Game ahead of the playoffs.
Choi Jae-dae went 7-for-4 (.571 batting average) against Kelly, while Park Byung-ho was strong at the plate, going 4-for-11 (.364 batting average) with one walk and three strikeouts. LG manager Yoon Kyung-yeop said, “Park Byung-ho and Byeong-dae were strong in the KT batting order. When it comes to the postseason, Bae Byeong-dae has been hitting well and changing the mood of the team. It’s important to stop Park Byung-ho and Byeong-dae.”
Hwang Jae-gyun went 3-for-11 (.273 batting average) with two doubles. Kim Sang-soo was 2-for-8 (.250) and Alford was 3-for-12 (.250) with one home run and two doubles, both long balls. 캡틴토토 도메인
Choi Sung-ho was 1-for-7 (.143 batting average), Jang Jang-woo was 1-for-9 (.111 batting average), Oh Yoon-seok was 0-for-4, and Moon Sang-chul was 0-for-2.
Since she first came to LG in 2019, Kelly has said that her goal has been to win the Korean Series every year. In mid-September of the 2021 season, Kelly could have temporarily returned to the U.S. on maternity leave for the birth of her second child (a son), but she chose not to. With LG competing for the top spot at the time, she prioritized the team over her family.
The team finished third and missed the semifinals in 2021 and second in 2022. This year, the team won the regular season title and was able to pitch in the Korean Series.
“As much as possible, I’ve been training and preparing on the same schedule as I did during the regular season,” Kelly said of his Game 1 start. After taking a little time off after the season, I’ve been building up my stamina and strength step by step.”
“I’ve been saying since I’ve been in Korea that I really want to pitch in the Korean Series, and now I get to do it. I think it’s going to be a great experience and a great opportunity for me personally,” Kelly said.
“My teammates played good baseball and played at a high level from the first game of the season to the last game of the season, so when we get into Game 1 of the Korean Series, it’s going to be a special moment for all of us. I think we’re going to be incredibly nervous until we throw out the first pitch, but once we do, we’re going to go out there and play like it’s the same game.”