‘QS overwhelmingly No.1’ starters with five no-hitters, also thankful for ‘lowest No.1’ scoring support

They say baseball is a starting pitcher’s duel, but you can’t win if you’re not scoring runs. The Kiwoom Heroes, the team with the most runs scored this year, piled up another bunch of runs and continued their ignominious record of “eight games without a win” against the SSG Landers.

On the 3rd, Kiwoom lost 1-2 to SSG Landers in an away game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League regular season at SSG Landers Field in Michuhol-gu, Incheon, Korea. The loss was their third in a row, leaving Kiwoom in eighth place in the league with 21 wins and 32 losses.

The performance was not much different from the previous day, when the team led until the eighth inning before giving up two runs in the bottom of the ninth to lose 2-3. The day before, Kiwoom got a quality start from starter Choi Won-tae, who pitched 6⅔ innings, including 5⅓ perfect innings, giving up two hits (one home run), one walk and striking out six. However, he gave up the tying run to Choi Jeong in the seventh and the game-winning hit to Kim Sung-hyun in the ninth.

It was more of the same today. Chung had the best performance of the day, pitching six innings of no-hit ball, striking out six and walking none. It was a flawless performance that could have been called perfect if it weren’t for a pair of wild pitches and a throwing error by the second baseman.

But even with the no-hitter, Kiwoom couldn’t relax. Opposing starter Oh Won-seok was pitching just as well as Chung Chan-heon (six innings and one run). A close pitching battle with a small margin of victory can put pressure on even the leading team, and Kiwoom couldn’t help but be reminded of the previous day’s upset loss and the fact that their opponents had been absolutely dominant this season. Before the game, Kiwoom head coach Hong Won-ki commented on the previous day’s loss, saying, “Our extra goal came too late. If we had scored a little earlier, it would have played a big role in our victory, but because of the late extra goal, we were still winning, but I think we felt like we were being chased.”

Through two days, Kiwoom had the most wickets in the league (428) but fewer goals (203 – fifth in the league). Unlike last year, when the centre-fielders like Lee Jung-hoo and Yasiel Puig were called upon at a high rate in scoring opportunities, there was no solution in sight this year.

As a result, the starters had a goal support of 3.82, the worst in the league. But even this was not to be believed. On the day, Kiwoom failed to capitalise on four chances, including two outs in the third, no outs in the fourth, two outs in the seventh, and two outs in the ninth. The starters’ run support was even lower at 3.77, and they eventually gave up a tying solo shot to Jeon Eui-san in the eighth and a walk-off hit to Kim Min-sik in the 10th to repeat the previous day’s nightmare.

Kiwoom pitchers have made the most quality starts (33) in the league this season. That’s a far cry from the second-placed Doosan Bears and Samsung Lions, who have 22. It’s a commanding lead. The lack of run support has resulted in a start-winning percentage of just 39.6 per cent (8th in the league). 스포츠토토

However, Kiwoom’s pitchers are more grateful than frustrated with their batters and talk of a one-team effort. Ariel Furado, who took the loss despite giving up two runs in seven innings against Gocheok Lotte on 27 March, said, “The batters feel sorry for me (because of the lack of run support). But baseball is a team sport. I was just grateful that I didn’t make any mistakes.”

Choi Won-tae, who did not get the win despite pitching 6⅔ innings of one-run ball, including 5⅓ perfect innings, against SSG in Incheon on the 2nd, said, “Winning is not something I can do. Rather, I’m more grateful that my teammates played really good defence. When the team is struggling, it’s more important for us to win than my individual performance. The more we win, the more the fans cheer for us, and the more they come. Right now, I’m just determined to throw as hard as I can to help the team win.”