Lee’s ‘stomach’ is back…’first start back’ gives up 4 runs in 4⅓ innings, faces loss

The Lotte Giants’ long-awaited pitcher Lee In-bok (32) is back, but he’s facing a losing pitcher’s crisis.

Lee In-bok started against the KT Wiz in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at KT Wiz Park in Suwon on April 22.

Lee underwent bone chip surgery on his right elbow after the end of last season. He underwent a rehabilitation process and made his first appearance of the season as a starting pitcher on May 22.

Before the game, LOTTE manager Larry Sutton said, “Lee In-bok has been building up diligently in the Futures League. I’m expecting about five innings. I don’t know what will happen depending on the game situation, but I’m looking forward to it because he pitches efficiently,” he said.

Lee faced a KT lineup consisting of Kim Sang-soo (shortstop), Kim Min-hyuk (left fielder), Anthony Alford (designated hitter), Park Byung-ho (first baseman), Hwang Jae-gyun (third baseman), Kang Hyun-woo (catcher), Park Kyung-soo (second baseman), Bae Jeong-dae (center fielder), and Ahn Chi-young (right fielder).

In the first inning, Lee In-bok was shaky. After getting leadoff hitter Kim Sang-soo to ground out to shortstop, he gave up back-to-back singles to Kim Min-hyuk 안전놀이터 and Alford to put runners on first and second. Park then gave up a single to Byung-ho Park, and a throwing error by right fielder Yoon Dong-hee allowed the runners to score from first and second.

He then pitched a scoreless inning. In the bottom of the second inning, Park walked the leadoff batter, Park Kyung-soo, but retired the next two batters to keep the game scoreless. In the bottom of the third, he gave up a double to Park Byung-ho and a walk to Hwang Jae-gyun to put runners on second and third, but he got the next batter, Kang Hyun-woo, to ground out to shortstop to end the inning.

The next run came in the bottom of the fourth inning when the team was down 1-2. One out later, Choi Jae-dae was hit by an infield single, and third baseman Han Dong-hee reached on a throwing error to put runners on first and second. A grounder to shortstop by Ahn Chi-young put runners on first and third, and a wild pitch gave up a run to make it 1-3.

The bottom of the fifth inning didn’t go her way either. After a leadoff walk, Alford doubled to put runners on first and second. Park then induced a grounder to shortstop Byung-ho Park, but shortstop Seung-wook Park threw out Alford at third base, leaving runners on first and second with one out. Hwang Jae-gyun followed with an RBI single to make it 4-1.

The LOTTE bench made a decision and sent reliever Shin Jung-rak to the mound in place of Lee In-bok. Shin worked out of a jam with runners on first and second without allowing Lee to score another run.

Lee’s final line was 4 1/3 innings, eight hits, two walks, one strikeout, and four runs (three earned). His two-seam fastball (42 pitches) was up to 145 mph. He threw a total of 78 pitches, including a slider (21), forkball (13), and curveball (2). At the end of the fifth inning, Lotte was trailing KT 1-4.

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