South Korea baseball manager Ryu Joong-il held his team's ice cold bats accountable for the deflating, 4-0 loss to Chinese Taipei at the Asian Games tournament Monday.
South Korea managed only four hits against Chinese Taipei starter Lin Yu-Min, a minor league prospect for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and had just two more hits against the bullpen at Shaoxing Baseball and Softball Sports Centre in Shaoxing, southeast of the main Asiad host city, Hangzhou.
"I don't really have much to say since we lost, but we just couldn't get to their pitchers," Ryu said. "We studied those pitchers quite a bit, but their stuff looked a lot better in person than in video."
Despite the defeat, South Korea's hopes of winning its fourth straight gold medal are still very much alive. South Korea, which earlier defeated Hong Kong, will only have to take care of underdog Thailand on Tuesday, and it will still finish in second place in Group B behind Chinese Taipei, which will likely beat Hong Kong on Tuesday to win the group with a perfect 3-0 record.
The top two teams from the group will reach the Super Round, up against the top two nations from Group A, likely Japan and China. The teams will play the two teams from the other group, and the two best remaining nations will meet each other in the final.
South Korea will have a built-in loss heading into the Super Round because of Monday's loss, but if it defeats Japan and China in succession, it will likely have a shot at revenge against Chinese Taipei in the final.
"I believe we will have another crack at Chinese Taipei later in the tournament," Ryu said. "We'll absolutely have to beat Japan and China in the Super Round."
Ryu also gave credit where it was due, saying Chinese Taipei has become a far more formidable opponent.
"Their hitters used to chase breaking balls, but they didn't get fooled by those pitches today," Ryu said. "Their defense used to be their weak link, but they played really solid defense today. They've sent a lot of pitchers to the U.S. minor leagues, and it's helped the national team."
Lin is one of those minor league players for Chinese Taipei, and Ryu said his hitters had no answer against the left-hander's mix of fastballs and breaking balls.
With a 24-man roster, including 11 pitchers, Ryu only has four backup bats on the bench. The lineup he doled out Monday night is the one he has to live and die with the rest of the tournament.
Ryu had six left-handed batters in the starting lineup against Lin, and they went a combined 2-for-22 in the game.
"We have a lot of right-handed position players who bat left-handed in the KBO," Ryu said, referring to the top South Korean league. "Maybe they can handle Korean pitching. But against a left-hander like the one we faced today, someone who pairs a hard fastball with good breaking balls, those hitters will have trouble."
Source: Yonhap News Agency