Pil Seung-jo’s comeback after 52 days ended in defeat. Lotte’s Choi Jun-yong (22) gave up his first run of the season.
Choi took the mound in the bottom of the eighth inning of a 3-3 tie against Hanwha in Daejeon on May 5. After Jack Rex hit a game-tying two-run homer in the top of the eighth, Lotte brought in Choi for a full-blown bullpen battle.
It had been 52 days since Choi had pitched since May 14 against Suwon KT. In the meantime, he took time for treatment and rehabilitation due to micro-inflammation in his back. He pitched three games in the second-team Futures League from May 23, completing a practice check, and entered the fray from his return to the first team.
A trial run was not necessary for Choi, who has been in the bullpen since late 2020. As expected, Choi unleashed a 149-kilometer fastball on the first batter, Noh Si-hwan, and induced a grounder to first base with a curveball after five pitches.
But the next batter, Nick Williams, took a whopping 12 pitches. With the count 2-2, the seventh pitch was a curveball in the zone, but the umpire’s hand didn’t go up. After four consecutive foul cuts, Williams lined a single to right.
He got Chae Eun-sung to fly out to center for the second out, but Kwon Kwang-min singled to left-center. Two balls later, a low fastball outside the zone was ruled a ball. He worked a full count but was hit by a six-pitch fastball to put runners at first and third.
Kwon Kwang-min stole second, and with runners on second and third, Choi gave up a double to Jae-hoon Choi. It was a five-pitch outside curveball that went in. Choi Jun-yong’s streak of seven consecutive scoreless innings in nine games this season came to an end. Lotte fell to 3-5, and Choi suffered his first loss of the season after giving up two runs on three hits in ⅔ of an inning.토스카지노
Of the 31 pitches Choi threw on the day, 18 were fastballs, which averaged 145.6 mph according to PTS. It was faster than his average fastball velocity this season (144.4 mph) and back to where it was last year (145.7 mph). Even with his velocity up, he was still cutting the Hanwha hitters and struggling with the umpire’s tight zone. When his changeup didn’t work, he finally got the final out.
It was a grueling comeback for Choi, who had waited 52 days to get back on the mound. Lotte lost the bullpen battle and fell into a three-game losing streak. Lotte dropped to fourth place, tied with NC, with 36 wins and 36 losses. Even their 5-percent winning percentage, which they had maintained for more than two months, was in danger of collapsing after they improved to 8-8 with a win over Changwon NC on April 21.
Until May 27, Lotte was 26-15 with a +11 win-loss margin, which was almost forgotten. Any more losses here and it gets really dangerous. Lotte starts left-hander Charlie Barnes against Hanwha on May 6, looking to snap a three-game losing streak and defend their 5-to-1 odds. For Hanwha, right-hander Moon Dong-ju will start.