Closing in on the all-time saves record

Home > Culture > Features

print dictionary print

Closing in on the all-time saves record

테스트

테스트

Three top closers in Korean baseball have their sights set on the single-season saves record.
The Samsung Lions’ Oh Seung-hwan, Doosan Bears’ Jung Jae-hun and Hanwha Eagles’ Koo Dae-sung are ranked 1-2-3 in the league in saves, and with about 40 games left in their respective teams’ schedules, all have a chance to break the single-season record of 42 saves, set in 2000 by Bears closer Jin Pil-jung.
Oh, 23, a right-handed flamethrower with rookie of the year and Korean Series most valuable player awards under his belt, leads with 29 saves through Monday. He frequently reaches above 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles) on radar guns, and this year added a curveball to his repertoire of fastball and slider.
But it’s his mental makeup, which has earned him the nickname “Mr. Poker Face,” that has impressed veterans.
“He exudes so much confidence on the mound,” Eagles’ starter Song Jin-woo, who has more wins than any other pitcher in Korean baseball history with 199 and counting, told the local sports daily Sports Seoul. “And I am really impressed with how his facial expression never changes in different situations, especially for someone his age.” Song also complimented Oh’s improved off-speed pitches, adding, “Now, hitters can’t afford to just wait for his fastball.”
테스트

In contrast, Jung, with 27 saves, has relied on off-speed forkballs, and had to work on his fastball to become more effective. In 2005, the 26-year-old right-hander led the league with 30 saves. He’s already set two pitching records this season ― by becoming the fastest to reach 20 saves, doing so in 24 games, and by converting 14 consecutive save opportunities in July.
“This year, he is throwing fastballs early in the count, and catching guys off-guard,” said Yoon Sok-hwan, the Bears’ pitching coach, in a postgame press conference in June. “That’s why this year, he’s getting a lot of strikeouts looking, whereas last year, guys swung at his forkball for strikeouts.”
Koo has had his share of strikeouts, punching out 55 batters in 47.1 innings. Pitching in his first season back from a stint with the New York Mets, he has 26 saves on the year, his sixth consecutive Korean baseball season with at least 20 saves. Though at 37, his velocity isn’t where it once was, his unique, corkscrew delivery ― the lefty turns his back toward first base to hide his pitch until right before his release ― is still as effective as ever.
He experienced a setback this season, however, getting hit in the forehead by a piece of a broken bat in a freak incident during a game on June 27. Koo took 20 stitches, but suffered no structural damage.
Undeterred ― he was seen playing a video game in his room the morning after the injury ― Koo was back on the mound just five days later, tossing scoreless two-thirds of an inning against the Hyundai Unicorns.


by Yoo Jee-ho
Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
s
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

What’s Popular Now