Yang Hyun-jong (KIA Tigers) won a decision victory over Kim Kwang-hyun (SSG Landers) in their rematch after two months.
On June 6 at SSG Landers Field in Incheon, Yang pitched five innings of one-run ball with two walks and four strikeouts to lower his ERA to 3.80 in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against SSG.
With KIA leading 7-1 after six innings, if the game ends without allowing a tie or comeback, Yang will earn his fifth win of the season. It would also extend his dominance in the head-to-head matchup with Kwang Hyun-jong, who leads the series 4-3.안전놀이터
On the other hand, the starter, Kim Kwang-hyun, was tagged for seven runs on eight hits (two home runs), three walks, and one strikeout in 4 1/3 innings. The seven runs were his most in a game this season, and the first in 2490 days since September 10, 2016, when he allowed seven runs and five earned runs in 2⅔ innings against the Hanwha Eagles. It also raised his ERA from 3.31 to 4.00.
This is the eighth time that Yang Hyun-jong and Kim Kwang-hyun, two of Korea’s best left-handed pitchers born in 1988, have faced each other. They have met twice this season, including on May 9 in Gwangju. On that occasion, Yang Hyeon-jong pitched eight scoreless innings to earn a no-decision over Kim Kwang-hyun, who gave up three runs in six innings to lead KIA to a 3-0 victory.
Yang was the pitcher with the smile on his face. He left runners on base in every inning but kept the SSG bats in check with his excellent command of the game, minimizing the damage.
Yang Hyun-jong, who shared the first battery with catcher Kim Tae-gun, who was acquired in a trade the previous day (May 5), was creaky from the first inning. In the second inning, he gave up three consecutive hits to Kim Kang-min, Guillermo Heredia, and Park Sung-seong.
However, Yang Hyun-jong avoided a big inning by getting Kang Jin-sung to ground out to first and third base in the second inning, and he quickly settled down to keep the SSG bats in check without any major crises.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, he struck out Kim Min-sik, his strongest hitter, at second base with an exquisite slider. In the bottom of the fifth, with the score 7-1, he walked Kim Kang-min with two outs, but got Heredia to fly out to second base to complete the win.
Yang Hyun-jong, who threw a total of 107 pitches, was replaced by Jung Hae-young to start the bottom of the sixth inning.
Kim, who had pitched a combined 14⅔ innings with 12 strikeouts and one run in the previous two games, was unable to keep the momentum going.
Kim was shaken up after giving up a tying solo shot to Choi Hyung-woo in the top of the second inning for a 1-0 lead. His command was off and his pitches were not good. In the bottom of the second inning, with the score tied 1-1, he walked Lee Chang-jin after an 11-pitch battle, then gave up a stolen base and was immediately followed by a two-run double to Kim Tae-gun.
After throwing a whopping 34 pitches in the top of the second, Kim Kwang-hyun did it again in the top of the fourth. This time, he gave up four runs on five hits, a walk, and a sacrifice fly.
With the bases loaded in the top of the fourth, Kim gave up back-to-back RBI singles to Kim Tae-gun and Kim Kyu-sung, and then gave up a sacrifice fly to right field to Park Chan-ho.
Kim stayed on the mound in the top of the fifth, trailing 1-6, but again gave up a home run to Choi Hyung-woo. His first pitch, a curveball with a slight angle, turned into a wild pitch. Kim Kwang-hyun’s lead grew to seven runs.
After getting Hwang Dae-in to fly out to center field, Kim was replaced by Noh Kyung-eun. Kim’s final pitch count was 94.