The Lotte Giants players celebrate defeating the Kia Tigers 10-2 in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, Tuesday. With the win, the Busan-based team clinched the final playoff slot. / Yonhap
By Jung Min-ho
The Lotte Giants have punched their ticket to the playoffs that start Monday, joining the Samsung Lions, SK Wyverns and Doosan Bears.
The KBO’s top four teams advance to the playoffs and the defending champions, the Lions, have already made it to the best-of-seven Korean Series by clinching first place.
Sweeping aside doubts, the Busan-based Giants finally snapped a five-game losing streak Tuesday, defeating the fifth-ranked Kia Tigers 10-2 to secure a slot for the first-round best-of-five series against the Bears.
The Incheon-based Wyverns will face the winner from the first round after finishing second in another best-of-five series. Whoever emerges victorious will then face Samsung in the championship series.
During the playoffs, the teams will have 15 innings to try and reach a result if tied through nine, _ three more from than in the regular season, before the result is ruled a draw. All games will start at 6 p.m. on weekdays and 2 p.m. on weekends.
Teams with a better regular season record will play the first two games on home turf but as of Wednesday morning the venue for first and second games was undecided since the Bears and Giants could switch places, depending on the remaining results. Doosan have three games left with 67 wins 60 losses and three draws, while Lotte have two with 64 wins 61 losses six draws. The two clubs are virtually neck-and-neck with a 0.528 and 0.512 winning rate respectively. If the Bears lose all three games and the Giants win both, the opening game of the playoffs will take place at Busan’s Sajik Baseball Stadium instead of Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul.
Recent form favors Doosan. In the past 10 games, they have five wins and five losses, whereas Lotte has two victories and eight defeats. But the Giants’ bounce back to earn a fifth playoff berth means who will reach the second round to face the Wyverns from Oct. 16 is up for grabs.