Streak of futility ends for humble Heroes pitcher

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Streak of futility ends for humble Heroes pitcher

When Nexen Heroes closer Sohn Seung-rak sealed his team’s 3-1 victory over the Lotte Giants on a force out, on Tuesday at Sajik Stadium, in Busan, Heroes starting pitcher Shim Soo-chang stared at the night sky and took a deep breath.

There was good reason for his relief. The last time the 30-year-old Shim had won a game was more than two years ago - 786 days, to be exact.

And with an 18-game losing streak in the rearview mirror, Shim can now sleep easy.

“I can’t remember when I had this kind of interview,” Shim said during a postgame interview on Tuesday. “It still feels like a dream.”

The way the his teammates congratulated him with hugs after the game certainly looked like something out of a dream - or perhaps a well-thought-out ending to a movie.

With a combination of futility on his part and a lack of luck, Shim set a new KBO record with his 18-game losing streak over 39 games pitched. His last win was against the SK Wyverns on June 14, 2009, and he needed exactly 2,500 pitches to get this one, in which he allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings.

Shim, who is in his eighth KBO season, was traded from the LG Twins just 10 days ago and many thought his losing streak would only continue with the Heroes, considering they’re currently last in the KBO standings.

And those concerns were seemingly confirmed when Shim lost to the Samsung Lions last weekend, despite throwing a quality start - a nonexciting three runs in six innings.

But on Tuesday, the Heroes finally held a lead to end Shim’s streak.

Nexen’s offense scored three runs off Giants ace Song Seung-jun in the top of first inning, with an RBI single from right fielder Yoo Han-joon and a another two runs added by Cory Aldridge.

Shim did surrender a solo home run to Giants left fielder Kim Joo-chan in the same inning, but that was it - for both teams.

But that doesn’t mean things didn’t get hairy. Closer Sohn allowed consecutive singles to the Giants in the bottom of the ninth inning, putting runners on first and second with no outs.

Shim said that at this point he prayed and wished for the situation to be over without any more trouble. For once, his prayers were answered, as Sohn got the final three outs.

“I was surprised that everyone, including my manger, was trying their best to give me the win even though I just joined the team 10 days ago,” Shim said. “They were great in every way.”

Shim said Tuesday’s win is just the beginning of what he considers a fresh start.

“Now that I got out of the losing streak, I’m confident that I can do anything,” Shim told Ilgan Sports yesterday.

“I will go for an 18-game winning streak.”

By Joo Kyung-don []

Nexen Heroes pitcher Shim Soo-chang smiles during his game against the Lotte Giants at Sajik Stadium in Busan, Tuesday. [YONHAP]

한글 관련 기사 [일간스포츠]

심수창 “연패 탈출, 어머니가 경기보시고 우셨다”

롯데전을 앞둔 10일 사직구장. 심수창(30·넥센)은 선수단과 코칭스태프에게 시원한 커피를 대접했다. 장장 2년 1개월 25일에 걸친 지긋지긋한 연패를 깬 기념턱. 하루가 지났지만 심수창의 얼굴에는 승리의 기쁨이 채 가시지 안은 듯 시종 미소가 흘렀다.

잠은 잘 잤을까. 그는 "어제 밤에 들어가 TV와 기사를 모두 확인했다. 전부 내가 연패 끊은 소식만 나오더라"는 말로 답을 대신했다. 이날 밤 포털사이트 검색어 순위 상위권에는 심수창의 이름이 올랐고, 그의 미니홈페이지에는 팬 1만6000여 명이 방문했다. 심수창은 "300통 가까이 온 휴대폰 문자메시지, 친정팀 LG와 타구단 동료들의 축하 전화를 받느라 하룻밤이 금세 갔다"며 웃었다.

가장 기억에 남는 축하 인사가 있었을까. 그는 부모님을 꼽았다. "어머니가 TV로 내 경기를 지켜보시고 울었다고 하더라. 그동안 나 못지 않게 마음고생을 하셨다." 심수창은 18연패를 기록하자 진지하게 야구를 그만둘 생각도 했다. 아들의 괴로움을 보다 못한 어머니는 "힘들면 그만 둬도 된다"라며 짐을 덜어주려고 했다. 심수창은 "아버지(심태석씨)가 끝까지 해보라고 하셨다. 부모님의 기도와 응원이 아니었다면 야구를 떠났을지 모른다"고 했다.

길고 긴 터널을 나온 느낌이었다. 심수창은 "지난 올스타전 홈런레이스서 강타자들이 치라고 던지는 공도 못 치더라"며 "'그런데 왜 나는 안 맞으려고 던져도 맞는 걸까' 싶었다. 길거리에서 '저기 17연패 간다'는 소리도 들었다"고 말했다. "힘내세요"라는 팬들의 걱정 섞인 인사도 속상했다고 한다.

홀가분한 얼굴의 심수창은 "18연패는 일부러 지려고 마음먹어도 하기 힘든 기록이다. 신기하다"면서 이렇게 말했다. "남들이 좀처럼 경험하기 힘든 것을 겪었다. 공 하나하나에 이제 절박함이 담긴다. 이 마음을 이어가고 싶다. 18연승을 할 때까지."

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