The first meeting between Korean major leaguers Kim Ha-seong (San Diego Padres) and Bae Ji-hwan (Pittsburgh Pirates) ended with mixed results.
Kim and Bae met on April 28 at PNC 스포츠토토 Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, during the 2023 MLB Major League Baseball game between San Diego and Pittsburgh. Coincidentally, they started side-by-side at second base.
‘Hitting at the peak of his powers’: Kim’s third three-hit game of the season
It was Kim who struck first. He led off the first inning with a single to left field after a seven-pitch battle with veteran Pittsburgh starter Rich Hill. However, the next batter, Fernando Tatis Jr. singled to center field and Kim was unable to advance.
But in the top of the second, he took matters into his own hands. With the bases loaded and two outs, Kim lined a double to center field.
After striking out in the top of the fifth, Kim came up to bat again in the top of the seventh and took an outside curveball from Pittsburgh reliever Roanci Contreras for a single up the middle. This time, however, he was forced to return to the dugout as Tatis Jr. made the catch.
It was Kim’s third three-hit game of the season, showing off his hot bat. It was his first three-hit game in eight days, since April 20 against the San Francisco Giants.
After being retired on a grounder to third base in his final at-bat in the top of the ninth, Kim went 3-for-5 on the day, raising his season average to .258. In his last five games batting leadoff, he has lived up to his team’s expectations, going 7-for-20 with three home runs and seven RBIs.
“Terrible ball call”… Bae ‘ejected’ after explosion at the plate
In contrast, Bae had one of the worst days of his career. Bae, batting seventh, got his first RBI in a long time with a sacrifice fly to left field with runners on first and third in the second inning when Pittsburgh trailed 3-0. It was his 19th RBI of the season.
But he struck out in the bottom of the third and fifth innings as a string of bad calls continued. According to the gameday graphic on Major League Baseball’s official website, umpire Jeremy Rihak called back-to-back pitches high and out of the strike zone as foul strikes.
Frowning and frustrated, Bae finally exploded at the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning. This time, he protested a pitch that was called a strike, and umpire Rihak immediately ordered him out.
Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton came out of the dugout to break up the fight, and Bae walked into the dugout to end the game. It was a disappointing end for Bae, who had gone hitless in his last eight games.
Pittsburgh beat writer Cody Duncan pointed to the umpire’s call, saying, “Bae had several terrible strike calls throughout the game,” and “eventually his patience ran out.”
In contrast to the mixed fortunes of Kim and Bae, the outcome of the game was quite the opposite. Despite Kim’s hot performance, San Diego was unable to pull off the upset. Pittsburgh’s bats pounded out 16 hits to pull off a 9-4 upset.