Lee slams fifth homer of season

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Lee slams fifth homer of season

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Seattle Mariners’ Lee Dae-ho hits a three-run home run on Wednesday in an MLB game against the Tampa Bay Rays in the bottom of the fourth inning. Wednesday’s homer is the big man’s fifth Major League dinger. Lee’s effort enabled the Mariners defeat the Rays 6-4 and maintain the lead in the American League West division. [AP/NEWSIS]

Korean Major Leaguer Lee Dae-ho had his fifth home run of the season on Wednesday during the Seattle Mariners 6-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Safeco Field in Seattle.

Lee, who platoons with Adam Lind of the Mariners on first base, started Wednesday’s game batting seventh with Rays left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly starting for the Tampa Bay club. Going at his first at-bat in the bottom of the first inning with two outs and a runner on third base, Lee got called out on strikes while the Mariners were ahead 3-0.

He went to bat again in the bottom of the fourth with two runners on first and second base with no outs. On the sixth pitch by Smyly with a one and two count, Lee pushed the 80-mile-per-hour cutter to right field over the fence to card a three-run home run. With Chris Lannetta and Kyle Seager driving home after Lee’s slamming hit, the Mariners added three more points to the board, and widened the gap against the Rays at 6-2. In his next at-bat in the sixth inning, Lee smashed the 94 mile-an-hour four seam fastball by Smyly’s substitute reliever Enny Romero but was flied out by center fielder Kevin Kiermaier. His last at-bat was in the bottom of the eighth, against Rays’ Ryan Webb. Lee grounded out after a two and two ball count.

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Seattle Mariners’ Lee Dae-ho, far right, is greeted at home by Chris Iannetta, far left, and Kyle Seager after his fifth home run of the season. Lee’s home run drove Iannetta and Seager home, adding three points total on the board for the Mariners. [AP/NEWSIS]

Wednesday’s game was the fifth consecutive game Lee started. Unlike the previous day when Lee went to the plate eighth in the batting order, he batted seventh in the lineup, hinting at the appreciation of Mariners manager Scott Servais for Lee’s decent batting pace recently to move him up in the lineup. The dinger on Wednesday was also his fifth homer this season, following his home run on May 6 when against John Axford, the right-handed reliever of the Oakland Athletics.

Although the Korean big man has been platooning with Lind at first base, stepping in the game mostly when the opposing team mobilizes a left-handed pitcher, the 35-year-old slugger has been outpacing Lind on the plate. Lind has been struggling so far this season despite his illustrious MLB career. Lee has gone 5-for-20, hitting a .250 batting average (BA), over the past five games while smashing three homers and carding six runs batted in (RBI), a .318 on base percentage (OBP) and a .550 slugging percentage (SLG).

In comparison to Lee, Lind has a .125 BA, a .192 OBP and a .125 SLG with only 3 hits during 24 at-bats and 2 RBIs with no homers in the past five games. Overall this season, Lee has a .273 BA, a .333 OBP and a .545 SLG in 44 at-bats while Lind is hitting a .212 BA, a .236 OBP and a .271 SLG in 85 at-bats, as of Wednesday.

While Lee was enjoying his moment in Seattle, Park Byung-ho of the Minnesota Twins went 0-for-4 against Kim Hyun-soo’s Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday. Kim didn’t make an appearance in the game. The Orioles defeated the Twins 5-3. The Los Angeles Angels’ 24-year-old Korean first baseman Choi Ji-man also saw some playing time in a game against the Saint Louis Cardinals getting an at-bat in the ninth. Choi was called out on strikes.

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]
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