The ‘Captain of 5 Billion’ is back from the dead. It’s even more dramatic because he saved his team from a three-game losing streak.
Samsung Lions’ Oh Jae-il is the protagonist. In the fifth game of the season against the Lotte Giants at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu on Tuesday, Oh went 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs to lead his team to a 9-7 victory.
Oh, who had 198 career home runs prior to the game, became the 34th player in baseball to reach the 200-homer milestone with the back-to-back blasts. It was Oh’s ninth career home run and seventh in the KBO this season.
In particular, Oh’s home run in a consecutive at-bat was the first in 630 days since September 18, 2021, against the SSG Landers in Munhak, and his four hits in one game was the first in 742 days since May 28, 2017, against the Doosan Bears in Daegu. In fact, it’s his best day in a Samsung uniform.
He’s been struggling all season. A 1-for-9 performance in April (16 hits in 83 at-bats) was just the beginning. He slumped to 1-for-5 in May (10-for-66) and 1-for-5 in June (3-for-20). In the third year of his $5 billion free-agent contract, the responsibility of wearing the captain’s armband this year was too much.
The day started differently. In the top of the first inning against Lotte starter Han Hyun-hee, Kim Ji-chan led off with a single and stole second. With the bases loaded on a sacrifice bunt, Pirela hit a grounder in front of the pitcher, but Lotte first baseman Jeong Hoon missed the throw and easily scored the first run.
Oh Jae-il followed with a two-out double down the right-field line. It was a well-placed hit that stretched out into the outfield. Samsung added a run in the bottom of the second on Lee Jae-hyun’s sixth home run of the season, but Oh Jae-il struck out in his second at-bat of the inning. It was just one step back for two steps forward.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, with Lotte trailing by one, Oh hit his sixth home run of the season over the right-center field fence on a 124-kilometer curveball from Han Hyun-hee. With runners on first and second, Samsung added another run when Lee Jae-hyun singled to center field and Lotte third baseman Kim Min-soo made a throwing error.
Lotte got one back, but Oh Jae-il again drove a wedge into the faltering momentum. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Oh pushed a 151-kilometer fastball from LOTTE pitcher Jung Sung-jong’s sixth pitch over the left field fence with a line drive. It was a powerful blast that stretched out like a clothesline, even though it was a push home run without pulling.메이저놀이터
Oh added another hit in the bottom of the eighth, his first four-hit game of the season.
The entire batting lineup came alive with the “Captain” in the game. Lee Jae-hyun’s solo shot in the second inning and Kim Hyun-joon’s three-run blast in the seventh inning gave the bats a big boost. Samsung starter Suarez didn’t have a great outing, giving up three runs on nine hits in 5⅔ innings and throwing 116 pitches, but he was fortunate to get his second win of the season.