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American right-hander wins pitching duel in crucial championship game

2018/11/09 22:04

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By Yoo Jee-ho

INCHEON, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) -- Doosan Bears' right-hander Josh Lindblom outlasted SK Wyverns' left-hander Kim Kwang-hyun in a crucial South Korean baseball championship game Friday, delivering a dominant outing when his team needed it the most.

Lindblom held the Wyverns to a run on three singles in seven innings, while striking out 10 and walking two, as the Bears rallied for a 2-1 victory. He threw 114 pitches, just two shy of his season high. He retired his final 12 batters.

The Bears were still down 1-0 after Lindblom completed the seventh inning but went ahead 2-1 thanks to Jung Soo-bin's two-run shot off reliever Angel Sanchez in the top eighth.

Lindblom would have been a tough-luck loser. With closer Ham Deok-ju getting the final six outs, Lindblom instead got the well-deserved victory.

Josh Lindblom of the Doosan Bears throws a pitch against the SK Wyverns in Game 4 of the Korean Series at SK Happy Dream Park in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, on Nov. 9, 2018. (Yonhap) Josh Lindblom of the Doosan Bears throws a pitch against the SK Wyverns in Game 4 of the Korean Series at SK Happy Dream Park in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, on Nov. 9, 2018. (Yonhap)

His counterpart, Kim, was no less impressive. In his ninth Korean Series appearance, Kim tossed six scoreless innings, scattering six hits -- all singles -- while striking out four and walking none.

But the usually reliable Sanchez blew the slim 1-0 lead for Kim and cost him his fourth career Korean Series win.

Lindblom, who lost the opening game after allowing five earned runs on six hits, including two homers, in 6 1/3 innings, was far more dominant in this one.

Lindblom struck out the side in the first inning -- a stark contrast to the opening inning in Game 1, when he walked leadoff Kim Kang-min and gave up a two-run homer to Han Dong-min.

This time, Kim went down swinging on a forkball and Han struck out looking at a 1-2 fastball. Choi Jeong, who sat out Game 1, also fanned on a forkball.

He got some help from his defense in the second inning. With two outs and a runner at first, third baseman Heo Kyoung-min snared a hard grounder down the line and threw a strike to first to nab Kim Dong-yub and complete the highlight-reel play.

Kim had a shakier beginning, getting into a jam in the first inning.

Jung Soo-bin reached on an error, and two batters later, Yang Eui-ji dumped a single to shallow center, allowing Jung to move to third.

Yang stole second on a pitch in the dirt, and the Bears had two men in scoring position with two outs. But Kim Jae-ho, who was moved up to fifth spot in a reshuffle despite batting 2-for-11 in the series, hit a shallow fly to right field for the final out.

Kim had a clean second inning, which included his first two strikeouts of the day. He then survived consecutive two-out singles by fanning Yang Eui-ji with a slider.

Lindblom blinked first in the third inning. He walked Kim Sung-hyun to begin the inning, and after a sacrifice bunt moved Kim to second, Kim Kang-min rolled a 1-1 curveball through the hole on the right side for a run-scoring single.

Lindblom suddenly looked wobbly. He walked the next batter and then hit Choi Jeong to load the bases for two dangerous hitters coming up -- Jamie Romak and Park Jung-kwon, who combined for three homers and eight RBIs in the first three games.

But the right-hander dug deep and struck out both batters swinging -- Romak on a cutter and Park on a curve -- to prevent further damage.

Lindblom needed 30 pitches to get out of the third inning. He struck out two more batters in the fourth to get to eight for the game, but his pitch count had reached 73 by then.

Kim Kwang-hyun of the SK Wyverns throws a pitch against the Doosan Bears in Game 4 of the Korean Series at SK Happy Dream Park in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, on Nov. 9, 2018. (Yonhap) Kim Kwang-hyun of the SK Wyverns throws a pitch against the Doosan Bears in Game 4 of the Korean Series at SK Happy Dream Park in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, on Nov. 9, 2018. (Yonhap)

Kim kept wiggling out of one jam after another, with the Bears helping the pitcher and shooting themselves in the foot.

In the fourth, Park Kun-woo hit a single with one out but was thrown out trying to steal second base. In the fifth, Kim worked around a one-out single with a pop out and a groundout.

The Bears had a promising start to the fifth inning, when No. 3 hitter Choi Joo-hwan had a leadoff single. But Kim squashed any hope of a rally by inducing a 6-4-3 double play ball off the bat of Yang Eui-ji.

The left-hander then retired Kim Jae-ho on a soft line drive to shortstop to close the books on what turned out to be his final inning.

Kim threw 90 pitches, 55 for strikes. He relied mostly on his four-seam fastball and slider but also mixed in curveballs and two-seam fastballs.

After giving up a leadoff single in the fourth, Lindblom retired 12 straight batters before Ham Deok-ju took over to begin the eighth.

Lindblom offered five different pitches at SK hitters, with cutter and forkball being his bread and butter. Eight of his 10 strikeouts were of the swinging variety.

jeeho@yna.co.kr

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