Kim Ha-seong races to become first Asian to hit ‘20.9 pace’…KBO’s ‘reverse export myth’ confronts him → 16th home run explodes

Arguably the hottest hitter in Major League Baseball right now, Kim Ha-seong (San Diego Padres) is one step closer to becoming the “first” Asian infielder to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases.

Kim started at third base and batted leadoff in the first game of the 2023 Major League Baseball doubleheader against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park in San Diego, California, U.S., on Tuesday (July 20) and went 1-for-4 with a home run, one RBI and one run scored. His season batting average has dropped slightly from .281 to .280.온라인바카라

After hitting his 15th home run of the season against the Colorado Rockies on May 3, Kim’s bat, which had been struggling to arch despite good contact, caught fire again. With his 16th home run in 15 games, he became the “first” Asian infielder in the majors to reach the 20-homer, 20-double plateau and is now just four homers away from the milestone.

Kim Ha-seong of the San Diego Padres./Getty Images Korea

Ha-Sung Kim of the San Diego Padres./Getty Images Korea

Merrill Kelly of the Arizona Diamondbacks./Getty Images Korea

Against Merrill Kelly, the “reverse export myth,” Kim’s bat was on fire from the first at-bat, as he went 6-for-29 with one home run, a .207 OPS and a .661 slugging percentage in the KBO. In his first at-bat in the bottom of the first inning, trailing 0-2, Kim swung at Kelly’s two-seam 90.8 mph fastball, which was set slightly higher in the middle of the strike zone and on the best path to hit.

The pitch was so well placed that Kim could tell it was headed for the fence as soon as it left the bat, and it traveled 378 feet (115.2 meters) over the left-center field fence at Petco Park after reaching speeds of 101.3 mph (163 km/h). It was his 16th home run of the season in 15 games, his fifth leadoff homer in the majors and his second big league arch off Kelly.

The only other major leaguers of Asian descent to join the 20-homer, 20-double club are Shin-Soo Choo (now with the Cleveland Indians) in the 2009-2010 season and Shin-Soo Choo (now with the Cincinnati Reds) in 2013 and Shohei Oh (LA Angels) in 2021. Kim’s pace to date is 20.9 home runs, and if he keeps it up, he could become the “first” Asian infielder to join the 20-20 club.

Kim Ha-seong of the San Diego Padres./Getty Images Korea

The first at-bat was a bit of a disappointment. In his second at-bat with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the second inning, Kim took a low 93.6 mph sinker out of the strike zone on a five-pitch at-bat from Kelly, but was stranded on a grounder to shortstop, then struck out on three pitches in his third at-bat to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning, trailing 5-3.

A fourth at-bat didn’t produce another hit. Trailing 3-6 in the bottom of the seventh, Kim faced Arizona reliever Kevin Zinke with one out and one on when a 97.6-mph (157-kilometer) four-seam fastball sailed threateningly toward his body. Kim looked at the umpire in confusion and couldn’t turn around for a moment. He followed that up with a low slider in the seventh, but was retired on a grounder to the second baseman.

After his at-bat in the bottom of the seventh inning, it looked like he wouldn’t get another at-bat, but in the bottom of the ninth inning, trailing 4-6, he stepped up to the plate with runners on first and second and third. He took a six-pitch fastball from Seattle reliever Paul Seawald, but the pitch clipped the inside of his bat and he was stranded at first base, ending the game without capitalizing on the most important opportunity.

Despite Kim’s heroics, the Padres fell to their knees in the first game of the doubleheader, leaving them four games behind Arizona in third place in the National League West. With every game counting, fall baseball hopes are fading.

Ha-Sung Kim of the San Diego Padres/Getty Images Korea

Manny Machado of the San Diego Padres./Getty Images Korea

The teams battled back and forth early in the game. Arizona struck first. The Cactus jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning with back-to-back RBI singles by Rueredes Gurriel Jr. and Alec Thomas to put runners in scoring position after a Corbin Carroll double and a Christian Walker walk.

San Diego quickly responded. The Padres closed the gap in the bottom of the first on Ha-Sung Kim’s major league-leading fifth leadoff homer, and Manny Machado tied the game with a solo shot, his 22nd of the season. After Arizona regained the lead with a run in the third, San Diego answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth on a Matt Carpenter RBI single.

But the tide began to turn in Arizona’s favor in the fifth inning. Tommy Pham blasted a two-run homer in the fifth to cut the deficit to 3-2, then Herrardo Perdomo singled with runners on first and second and one out in the sixth to make it 6-3. San Diego answered in the bottom of the eighth with Machado’s second home run of the day, but closing the gap proved difficult. In particular, they couldn’t capitalize on a late-inning rally and fell to 4-6.

Meanwhile, Kelly, who was hit by Kim’s home run, picked up his second straight 10-win season after throwing 102 pitches in 5 1/3 innings, allowing three hits (two homers), four walks and three runs (three earned) with three strikeouts. Kelly’s third double-digit win season of his major league career. His ERA rose slightly from 3.05 to 3.16, but he remained third in the National League.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *