“I told the pitchers that we were going to play without a specific finish.”
KT Wiz manager Lee Kang-cheol’s competitive spirit paid off, as the team changed the “must-win formula” to take the first game of the best-of-seven Korean Series (KS).
KT won Game 1 of the KS against the LG Twins 3-2 at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on Sunday. It was their fourth straight postseason win, dating back to Game 3 of the last playoffs (PO), and their fifth straight KS win after going undefeated in Game 4 of the 2021 KS.굿모닝토토 주소
KT held LG, the best offense in the regular season this year, to just two runs. It was clearly a victory on the mound. KT starter Ko Young-pyo shined with six innings of two-run (one earned) ball, and the bullpen used only two men.
The use of the back door was particularly unusual. Initially, KT’s game-winning formula was Son Dong-hyun in the seventh, Park Young-hyun in the eighth, and Kim Jae-yoon in the ninth, but they didn’t use Kim. Instead, Son Dong-hyun pitched two innings. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Lee Kang-cheol used the No. 2 hitter, Park Hae-min, followed by Kim Hyun-soo and Austin Dean. In the bottom of the eighth, he retired Oh Ji-hwan, Moon Bo-kyung, and Park Dong-won. His pitching was so good that 10 of his 11 pitches in the seventh inning were strikes, confirming why he was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the last PO Series.
Son Dong-hyun was followed by Park Young-hyun. Park won the hold award with 32 holds this season, but nine of them were by Kim Jae-yoon, who was second in saves (32). However, Lee Kang-cheol spared Kim Jae-yoon and finished with Park Young-hyun. He decided that his pitches were better, and Young-hyun ended the game with a 140km/h fastball to end the day. Lee Kang-cheol’s game plan worked.
“I think Son Dong-hyun pitched two innings and gave us a chance to turn it around at the end,” Lee Kang-cheol said after the game. “We tried to go with the batting order from the beginning, and I told the pitchers that we were playing without a specific finish.” In other words, the team decided that Park was the best option to face the next six batters, starting with Park Hae-min.
The reason for using Park was for the long haul. “I thought it was going to be an extended game, and I thought it was going to go to the 11th inning, so I left (Kim) Jae-yoon in. Young-hyun warmed up first, so I sent him out in the ninth inning.”
Normally, formulas lose their meaning in fall baseball, so managers who have been around long enough to see the best bullpen pitcher in the game will trust him and keep the momentum going longer. “I’m only in my fifth year,” Lee said before the game, smirking when asked if he was a veteran. But since 2020, he’s already been to the postseason four years in a row. They’ve won three series. He’s gotten more sober with each passing year.