It has been a couple of weeks since I last published an article here on Bless You Boys, but with the start of the Korean Baseball Organization season taking place on Tuesday morning I am back to keep you abreast of the latest news from across the Pacific.
The opening day/night of the KBO schedule was an exciting one on both sides of the ocean, with ESPN broadcasting the league’s live events in America for the first time. And speaking of first time, it had been nearly two months since many have tasted the sweetness of live sports, and the games from the other side of the world have have quenched the parched thirst of the rabid throng thus far.
Without further ado, here are the highlights from the first two days of Korean baseball.
May 5: Opening Day
The biggest news from the season opener for Tigers fans comes from a familiar name from the recent past, Warwick Saupold. The righty pitched a complete-game shutout win for the Hanwha Eagles, giving up two hits and a walk while striking out two on 101 pitches. The Aussie righty continues his success from last season in Korea, when he went 11-10 with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP, striking out 137 in 2011⁄3 innings pitched. Song Kwang-min led the offensive charge for the Eagles, going 3-4 with two runs scored without striking out.
Another former Tiger also made his opening day memorable, as Dixon Machado went deep helped power the Lotte Giants over the KT Wiz. The infielder, whose reputation in the batter’s box does not include a sweet homerun stroke, put the Giants on top with a seventh inning three-run dinger. His final statline on the day was 2-4 with a runs scored, four RBIs and a strikeout. Former major leaguer Dan Straily got the win for Lotte behind a 52⁄3 inning effort in which he gave up two earned runs on three hits — including a home run — while walking three and striking out four over 97 pitches.
May 6: Day 2
Day Two’s best pitching performance came from SK Wyverns’ starter Ricardo Pinto, who gave up a run, three walks and three hits along with three strikeouts over 6⅔ innings on just 94 pitches in the winning effort. Hanwha’s starter Im Joon-seop was much less fortunate, getting knocked out of the game in the second inning after giving up two earned runs, saddling him with the loss. Han Dong-min led the attack for the Wyverns, going 2-4 cranking two home runs along with three RBIs while notching two strikeouts.
This game was a veritable pitcher’s duel, featuring two North American hurlers in Kiwoom’s Eric Jokisch and Kia’s Aaron Brooks. Brooks got the upper hand in this matchup, going 5⅔ innings while giving up just one earned run on five hits with no walks while striking out six, though unfortunately he did not figure in the final decision despite his effort. Jokisch was not too shabby either, tossing five innings of one-run ball, giving up five hits and a walk while striking out four; he also did not figure in the final decision. Lee Jung-hoo led the Heroes in the batter’s box, going 2-3 with a run scored.