The NC Dinos’ Song Myung-ki showed signs of anxiety by walking the leadoff batter for the fourth consecutive inning before leaving the game.
Song Myung-ki started the second game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League postseason semifinals at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on Wednesday, giving up two runs on three hits (one home run) and three walks with four strikeouts in three innings. He was pulled early after allowing four runs to score.
In 2020, he won his sixth straight start to close out the regular season to win the regular season title and earn the win in the Korean Series, becoming the first pitcher born in the 2000s to do so. His contributions to the overall victory were significant.
In 35 games (17 starts) this season, he has a 4-9 record with a 4.83 ERA. Against SSG, he has fared relatively well this year, going 4-1 with a 2.38 ERA in 11 1/3 innings.
Before the game, Kang said, “I would be grateful if Song Myung-ki threw as long as possible, but there always seems to be a hump in the second meeting, and I think that’s when I’ll be worried,” adding, “But if it’s Song Myung-ki’s character, he won’t think about the big game and won’t be nervous. Today’s condition is the key. I think it will be a watershed moment in the game depending on what kind of pitching he shows.” 굿모닝토토
In the top of the first inning, the Tigers scored three runs off Kim Kwang-hyun, thanks to Martin’s RBI double, Kwon Hee-dong’s RBI single to right, and Seo Ho-chul’s sacrifice fly to right field. However, in the bottom of the inning, Choo Shin-soo, the leadoff hitter, threw four pitches in a row and drew a straight walk. It looked like he would not be able to get a hit.
However, against Choi Joo-hwan, he gradually found his groove. He used a cutter for a strike and induced Choi to ground out to the first baseman, nabbing Shin-Soo Choo at second base. A reverse double play erased the runners. He then struck out Choi Jeong to end the first inning with three outs.
The Tigers scored in the second inning to take a 4-0 lead. The first batter, Guillermo Heredia, gave up a single to right, but Han Yoo-seom used his strength to get a swinging strikeout. Ha Jae-hoon followed with a fly ball to center fielder Ya Eun for the second out, and Park Sung-hwan followed with a fly ball to left field to end the second inning.
But Song Myung-ki faltered again. In the third inning, he gave up a hit by pitch to Kim Sung-hyun and a straight ball to Kim Min-sik, putting runners on first and second with no outs. He induced Choo Shin-soo to fly out to center field and then struck out Choi Joo-hwan again with a fastball for the second out. Choi got out of the jam with a swinging strikeout in a six-pitch at-bat.
But the fourth inning was not going to be easy. He gave up a leadoff single to Heredia. He was then hit by a two-run double off the bat of Han Yoo-seom after an unfavorable count. It was the moment when Song Myung-ki, who had been holding on for dear life, collapsed.