Kim Seo-hyun (19), a “special rookie” who has emerged as Hanwha’s go-to guy, came in with a nine-point lead. Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho had two reasons.
Seo-hyun Kim was relieved by Ricardo 안전놀이터 Sanchez in the sixth inning of the 9-0 win over KIA in Daejeon on April 23. It was a bit of a surprise for Kim, who was promoted to the closer’s role under Choi Won-ho, who took over the reins on Dec. 12, to pitch with a nine-run lead.
Kim struck out Choi Hyung-woo in the sixth inning on three pitches to retire the side on nine pitches, but gave up a triple to Socrates Brito in the seventh, a single to Byun Woo-hyuk and a double to Shin Bum-soo to center field.
Han Seung-ju singled up the middle off Ryu Ji-hyeok, bringing Kim’s record to 1 1/3 innings and three runs. Kim ended his eight-game scoreless streak and saw his ERA soar from 2.08 to 3.77.
Manager Choi Won-ho commented on the decision to bring in Kim Seo-hyun ahead of the 24th game against KIA, saying, “We had a 9-0 lead in the fifth inning and we were on a three-game losing streak. We were in a situation where loose plays could come out, and I thought that if I could close out the two innings (in the 6th and 7th) with a strong card, I would be fine.” “Originally, I was going to throw two full innings and give him a day off, but I couldn’t leave him in a situation where he kept getting hit,” he said.
With a three-game losing streak on the line, Kim’s primary goal was to completely shut down the opposition’s rally. But there was also another reason. “Lately, Seohyun has been going out only when it’s tight,” Choi said. We wanted her to find her fastball feel by throwing long pitches when she had time to spare,” Choi added.
Seo-hyun Kim has been throwing a lot of changeups lately without a fastball. With a good slider, she relied heavily on her changeup, but with a nine-run lead, she wanted to get a feel for her fastball. “I threw some fastballs in the beginning, but when the count was unfavorable, I switched to my changeup,” Choi laughed. In total, Kim threw 25 pitches that day, 12 of which were fastballs.
Choi also commented on the decision to bring in closer Park Sang-won in the ninth inning with a 9-3 lead, saying, “The atmosphere in the seventh and eighth innings was weird compared to the score difference. If we weren’t on a losing streak, we could have done something different, but it was urgent to end the three-game losing streak. I brought up Park Sang-won to try to end it cleanly, but it didn’t work out.” Hanwha went on to win 9-5, but Park struggled in the ninth inning, giving up two runs on two hits (one home run) with two walks and three strikeouts, throwing 32 pitches.