Four years after his major league debut.
Korean-American major leaguer Daein Dunning, 29, of the Texas Rangers, earned his first postseason win in relief four years after making his major league debut. Dunning pitched two innings of two-hit ball (one home run), struck out one and walked one to earn the save in Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., on Aug. 8 (ET).
In his fourth year in the majors, Dunning had the best season of his career. In 35 regular-season games, he went 12-7 with a 3.70 ERA. It was his first career double-digit wins and a 3.70 ERA in regulation. He did a great job as the second or third starter behind de facto ace Nathan Eovaldi.
Dunning was a consistent starter in 2021 and 2022, but a hip tear at the end of last season led to surgery. His struggles to make the Korean WBC team are well known. Just a year ago, he was in the hospital and a year later, he was a fixture on the Texas mound.
Texas made a major addition to its starting rotation ahead of the season, acquiring Jacob deGrom for five years and $185 million. Dunning started out as the long reliever, but deGrom had a bad wrist early in the season, then a bad arm, and finally Tommy John surgery.
Dunning filled the void admirably. He doesn’t have the fastest velocity, nor is he a borderline pitcher. It’s the type of pitch that requires a lot of strikes and a lot of help from the defense. However, Dunning doesn’t shy away from strikes and doesn’t walk too many batters. There were plenty of games where he got hit and gave up runs, but there were more games where he pitched well.
The postseason was no different. Dunning didn’t get a chance in the wild-card race against the Tampa Bay Rays. He didn’t get a chance to start in the best-of-three series and went back to long relief in the Division Series. Starter Andrew Heaney came in after allowing one run on two hits with one walk and one strikeout in 3⅔ innings.
Heaney pitched well through three innings before giving up an RBI double to Ryan Mountcastle in the fourth. Two on, two out, 2-1. Dunning came in to face Aaron Hicks. On a full count, a six-pitch 93-mph sinker was hit on the borderline and ruled a ball 스포츠토토.
But Dunning was unfazed. He struck out pinch-hitter Adam Frazier at 2B1S on a 90-mph high fastball. He retired the next three batters in the fifth and leadoff hitter Adley Rutchman in the sixth. He then dropped a changeup well to Anthony Santander, who hit a solo shot for the go-ahead run. He then induced Mountcastle to fly out to center field on a slider. He was then pulled.
From there, Texas never trailed and took the all-important Game 1 of the shortened series, 3-2. Dunning was recognized by the scorers as the most effective pitcher and earned the save. He returned to the postseason mound for the first time in three years, since 2020, when he was with the Chicago White Sox.