Kia Tigers’ Yoon Young-chul “Baby Tiger” is one win away from his eighth win of the season. It’s the bottom of the fifth inning, and Yoon hasn’t gotten a single out. The rookie of the year race with Hanwha Eagles pitcher Moon Dong-ju is back in the fog.
On August 12, KIA won 13-5 against the Sajik Lotte Giants. The win improved KIA’s record to 45 wins, 2 losses, and 45 ties on the season and moved them to within 1.5 games of the fifth-place Doosan Bears in the league.
KIA started Yoon Young-cheol on the mound. The team’s batting lineup consisted of Choi Won-jun (first base), Park Chan-ho (shortstop), Kim Do-young (third base), Na Sung-beom (right field), Choi Hyung-woo (left field), Socrates (center field), Ko Jong-wook (designated hitter), Han Jun-soo (catcher), and Hong Jong-pyo (second base).
From the beginning of the first inning, the KIA batting lineup was active. In the bottom of the first inning, Kim Do-young singled and scored on a throwing error by the opposing pitcher to put runners on second and third.
After Yoon Young-chul struck out the side in the bottom of the first, KIA added a run in the top of the second when Han Jun-soo singled up the middle with runners on second and third after Socrates walked and Ko Jong-wook singled to right. Choi Won-jun, Park Chan-ho, and Choi Hyung-woo followed with consecutive RBI singles to extend the lead to 6-0.
Yoon continued to pitch with the support of his team’s hot bats. In the bottom of the second inning, Yoon gave up his first run of the day when he gave up a leadoff double to Jeon Jun-woo behind the left field line and then, with runners on first and third, gave up a double to right-center field to Gudrum. However, Yoon retired Kim Min-seok and Noh Jin-hyuk with a grounder to first base and a swinging strikeout, respectively, to prevent further damage.
After getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the third, Yoon found himself in trouble again in the top of the fourth when he allowed a leadoff double and a walk. However, after a failed steal of third base, Yoon got Goodrum to fly out to left field to end the inning.
The Kia bats added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to extend the lead to 8-1 before the defense. Yoon’s eighth win of the season was within reach.
However, Yoon suddenly started to falter in the bottom of the fifth inning. With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Yoon gave up back-to-back doubles to Noh Jin-hyuk and Son Sung-bin to score two runs. Ahn Kwon-soo followed with a single to right and Ahn Chi-hong with an RBI double.
Yoon gave up another run when he gave up a grounder to Lee Jung-hoon with runners on second and third. The next batter, Jeon Jun-woo, followed with an RBI single to left, narrowing the gap to 8-5. After watching Yoon give up the big hit, the KIA bench pulled Yoon with one out and brought up Im Ki-young. Lim struck out Jung-hoon on a fly ball to center field to end the long fifth inning.
Yoon Young-cheol and Moon Dong-joo to battle for 2023 Rookie of the Year honors, 10-win season on the line
Kia rallied back with an RBI single by Lee Woo-sung in the top of the sixth and a four-run big inning in the top of the eighth. Lim Ki-young, who came on in relief with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, earned his second win of the season with 2.1 innings of no-hit, three-strikeout relief.
Yoon, who was riding a personal four-game winning streak prior to this appearance, had to settle for a one-out walk to drop his eighth win of the season. In 17 appearances (85 innings) this season, Yoon has posted a 7-4 record with a 4.13 ERA, 52 strikeouts, 30 walks and a 1.35 WHIP. As a high school rookie in his first year, Yoon is in a position to make a big splash in the Rookie of the Year race just by being a steady presence in the first-team rotation.
However, the Rookie of the Year race has been thrown back into the fog as second-year Hanwha pitcher Moon Dong-ju has come into his own this season. In 20 games (104.1 innings) this season, Moon has a 7-7 record with a 3.28 ERA, 88 strikeouts, 39 walks, and a 1.22 WHIP. Comparing the two players’ records, Moon again has a slight edge.메이저놀이터
The only remaining variable in the Rookie of the Year race is the Hangzhou Asian Games. Moon will join the Korean baseball team for the Asian Games in late September, making it difficult for him to pitch the rest of the season. Conversely, if Yoon Young-cheol, who will continue to pitch the rest of the season, improves his pitching stats and wins more than 10 games, the rookie of the year race could end up in chaos. It will be interesting to see if the Tigers will have a pitcher’s rookie of the year for the second time in two years, following Lee in 2021.