377th career start. This is a tie for the most appearances in KBO history. He stood shoulder to shoulder with the legend Song Jin-woo.
However, his colleague’s unexpected mistake became the source of trouble. In the thick of the rain, ‘big pitcher’ Yang Hyun-jong had to leave the mound after 5 bitter innings.
Gwangju Kia Champions Field on the 13th. Both teams were desperate for victory as they moved to Gwangju after losing against Samsung in Daegu and NC in Busan, respectively, after a bloody battle the previous day. The starting matchup is a head-to-head match between Yang Hyun-jong and Shim Jae-min. The weight was focused on KIA.
Defensive variables occurred first on Lotte’s side. In the bottom of the first inning, Lotte third baseman Han Dong-hee missed KIA Lee Woo-seong’s ground ball toward third base. However, Shim Jae-min calmly cut off the follow-up hit and did not concede a point. Both pitchers pitched scoreless until the second inning.
In the third inning, Yang Hyun-jong suddenly shook. He gave a walk to the first batter, 안전놀이터 Han Dong-hee, and Lee Hak-ju, who failed to bunt, hit a single to left. Then, during Hwang Seong-bin’s bunt, Yang Hyeon-jong’s throw to first base missed slightly, and Kim Sun-bin, who had covered first base, was safe while his feet changed.
In an absolute crisis with bases loaded and no outs, Lotte Yoon Dong-hee’s hit was a grounder toward third base. KIA third baseman Choi Jeong-yong picked up the ball and ran to third base. However, the ball was not completely caught. There was a force out at third base, but the ball went sideways before the follow-up action was taken. Lotte takes the lead. Although it was not recorded as an error as the out count went up at third base, it was a clear defensive mistake.
Commentator Kim Tae-hyung said, “It was a fatal mistake. The catch wasn’t unstable, but it wasn’t done properly. The ball kept hovering in the glove,” and pointed out, “I should have completely covered the ball with my right hand and caught it before making the next play.”
Coincidentally, Park Chan-ho left the game the day before due to a finger injury, so Kim Do-young took over as shortstop and Choi Jeong-yong filled the third base position. It appears that the absence of starting shortstop Park Chan-ho has been revealed in a position other than his original position.
Yang Hyun-jong then struck out Jeong Hoon, but allowed 2 RBI and a timely hit to Ahn Chi-hong for a 0-3 lead.
KIA coach Kim Jong-guk, who met before the game, praised Yang Hyun-jong for regaining stability in the second half of the season and expressed satisfaction, saying, “The innings are consistent and he is leading the starting lineup. I hope he continues like this for the rest of the season.” However, an unrecorded mistake shook the big pitcher.
As the rain became heavier, Yang Hyun-jong went down the mound after the 5th inning. The number of pitches was already 92. It was a bitter exit that did not live up to the great record.