Three relievers led the Samsung Lions to victory.
The Samsung Lions, coached by Park Jin-man, hadn’t gotten out of the slump before their game against the Suwon KT Wiz on April 18. They had lost five straight games and were sitting in ninth place with a season record of 25 wins and 36 losses. They were increasingly far from the mid-table group and trailing the last-place Hanwha Eagles (23 wins, 35 losses and four draws) by half a game.
Head coach Park Jin-man made an unconventional, if not unorthodox, starting lineup for the 18th game. He started all three catchers on the first team roster. Kang Min-ho, the No. 4 designated hitter, Kim Jae-sung, the No. 5 first baseman, and Kim Tae-gun, the No. 6 catcher.
The lineup alternated between the designated hitter and the catcher, but it was a lineup that could be set up with Kim Jae-sung playing first base. Kim Jae-sung, who had been practicing first base defense for a few days before, started at first base the day before and had a relatively stable performance with three hits.
“The three players are hitting well, so I put them in,” said Park Jin-man. Prior to the game, Kang Min-ho was batting just 0.299 and Kim Tae-gun was batting 0.263 for the season, but his batting average in the last 10 games is 0.389, nearly four percent higher. Kim Jae-sung, who had a slow start to the season due to injury, is also hitting .292 on the season, nearly a third of the way there, with three hits the day before and a .333 batting average in his last 10 games.
On this day, they did not disappoint. Kang Min-ho opened the scoring in the first inning. With two outs, he lined a single to center field to give his team the lead. Kim Jae-sung struck out in his first at-bat, but Kim Tae-gun led off the second with a single to right.
Both batted in the fourth inning. Kang Min-ho struck out swinging, Kim Jae-sung grounded out to first, and Kim Tae-goon hit a triple. For reference, Kim’s last triple was on August 6, 2009, against the KIA Tigers, nearly 14 years ago.
If Kim Tae-gun hit a triple in the fourth inning, Kang Min-ho and Kim Jae-sung combined in the fifth. They were the key to the team’s big inning. Kang Min-ho singled to put runners on second and third, and Kim Jae-sung hit a two-run double to center field.
Kang Min-ho and Kim Tae-gun played a central role as veterans. Photo by Kim Jae-hyun
It didn’t stop there. In the top of the seventh inning, Kang Min-ho hit a double to center field, and Kim Jae-sung drew a walk. Although they were unable to score due to a missed follow-up hit, they helped to reduce the strength of the opposing pitcher.메이저놀이터
With the combined efforts of the three players, Samsung defeated KT 7-5 to snap a five-game losing streak. The win was a breath of fresh air for a team that was in danger of falling to the bottom of the standings following the Hanwha Eagles game.
Kang Min-ho went 4-for-3 with a home run and an RBI, Kim Jae-sung went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs, and Kim Tae-gun went 2-for-4. On the day, Samsung had 14 hits. Seven of those hits came from three different catchers.
Samsung’s three catchers batted side-by-side in the 4-5-6 batting order. With the good momentum from the day, we could see more games with all three players in the starting lineup.