KBO Weekly: Power Rankings, an epic matchup and a costly losing streak

With the NC Dinos regaining their dominant form, there weren’t any changes at the top (or middle, for that matter) of our KBO Power Rankings. There was a shake-up at the bottom, however, that was felt well beyond our list.

Here’s a look at the week that was and what’s ahead in the KBO.

ESPN’s KBO Power Rankings

1. NC Dinos: 23-6 (Last week: 1) — After a brief lull, the Dinos roared back in a big way, going 5-1 on the week. Saturday’s 14-2 win over Hanwha was their third straight game of scoring 10 or more runs and their ninth for the season. For comparison, no MLB team over the past 100 seasons has scored 10 or more runs nine times in its first 28 games.

2. LG Twins: 18-11 (2) — LG slipped to 2-4 last week, with the critical game Saturday’s 5-4 loss to Kiwoom. The Twins led 4-0 going into the bottom of the seventh and had been 12-0 when leading after six innings behind the league’s best bullpen (3.44 ERA).

3. Doosan Bears: 19-10 (3) — Doosan, which kept pace with the Dinos at 5-1, has a league-leading four walk-off wins, including Saturday’s 4-3 victory over Kia.

4. Kiwoom Heroes: 17-13 (4) — After being swept by the Dinos two weeks ago, the Heroes have bounced back by winning seven of their past nine.

5. Kia Tigers: 15-15 (5) — The Tigers’ 3-3 week followed form: Kia swept three from Lotte, against which they’ve won nine straight dating to last season, and dropped three to Doosan, which they have beaten just once in their past 10 meetings.

6. Lotte Giants: 14-15 (6)Adrian Sampson, who pitched three big league seasons with the Rangers and Mariners, had a rough outing against Kia, allowing six runs, nine hits, three walks and two HBPs in 4⅓ innings to fall to 0-2.

7. KT Wiz: 11-18 (7) — KT is in one of those funks: The Wiz gave up 11 and 14 runs in two losses to Doosan, then held the Giants to 12 runs over three games but lost them all.

8. Samsung Lions: 13-17 (8) — After a very slow start (5-for-39, .128), Tyler Saladino has gone 17-for-41 (.415) with 13 RBIs and 11 runs in 13 games. Saladino played five MLB seasons with the White Sox and Brewers.

9. SK Wyverns: 10-19 (10) — Since the heat was turned up on the seat of manager Kyoung Youb Youm, the Wyverns have won 8 of 13 to quell their critics.

10. Hanwha Eagles: 7-23 (9) — Things went from bad to worse for the Eagles, whose losing streak hit 14 straight. Hanwha has been outscored 120-36 in the stretch, and manager Yong-duk Han resigned after Sunday’s defeat.

(Selected by Joon Lee, Alden Gonzalez and Dan Mullen)

The week that was and what’s ahead

One thing to know that happened last week: With Hanwha suffering through the longest losing streak in club history and the seventh longest in KBO history, something had to give — and it was Han. Han, who spent his entire 17-year playing career with the Eagles, was in the last season of a three-year contract. He helped Hanwha snap an 11-year playoff drought in 2018, but the Eagles dropped to ninth place last year before this season’s free fall.

One thing to watch this week: All eyes will be on the Dinos-Bears matchup, with all three games airing on ESPN (Tuesday-Thursday, 5:30 a.m. ET). The Dinos’ domination has been well documented — by ESPN’s KBO Power Index, they’re the league’s best team in 20 years — while the defending Korean Series champ Bears have matched NC by going 11-4 over their past 15 games. Off the field, we’ll be watching for any Matt Harvey sightings at Incheon International Airport in Seoul.

Highlight of the week: LG slugger Roberto Ramos asserted his place atop the home run leaderboard with a two-homer game Friday against Kiwoom that included this 460-foot moonshot.

Bat flip of the week: Helicopter style, with a great pitcher reaction as the kicker.

Viral moment of the week: One of Hanwha’s “fans” apparently tried to drown his sorrows at a recent game, understandable given the Eagles’ plight.

KBO on ESPN broadcast schedule

Stream live KBO games and replays on WatchESPN

(All times ET; in addition to the game replays listed, all KBO League games on ESPN2 will also re-air leading directly into the next live game telecast.)

Tuesday, June 9

5:30 a.m.: ESPN: Doosan Bears vs. NC Dinos (live)
2 p.m.: ESPN2: Doosan Bears vs. NC Dinos (rebroadcast)

Wednesday, June 10

5:30 a.m.: ESPN: Doosan Bears vs. NC Dinos (live)
2 p.m.: ESPN2: Doosan Bears vs. NC Dinos (rebroadcast)

Thursday, June 11

5:30 a.m.: ESPN: Doosan Bears vs. NC Dinos (live)
1 p.m.: ESPN2: Doosan Bears vs. NC Dinos (rebroadcast)

Friday, June 12

5:30 a.m.: ESPN: KT Wiz vs. Samsung Lions (live)
2 p.m.: ESPN2: KT Wiz vs. Samsung Lions (rebroadcast)

Saturday, June 13

4 a.m.: ESPN: Kia Tigers vs. SK Wyverns (live)

Sunday, June 14

4 a.m.: ESPN: KT Wiz vs. Samsung Lions (live)