Tigers lefty Young gets off to a strong start in front of sellout crowd, no-hitter in five innings

만원관중 앞' 5이닝 KKKKK 무실점…타이거즈 좌완 영건의 출발 순조롭다 [잠실 현장]

Second-year left-hander Yoon Young-cheol of the Kia Tigers picked up a win in his first start of the season.

Yoon was matched up against Kwak Bin in the third game of the 2024 Shinhan SOL Bank KBO League against the Doosan Bears at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on Wednesday. He pitched five innings of three-hit, one-run ball, striking out five and walking none to earn the win in his team’s 9-3 victory. He threw 89 pitches, including 26 fastballs, 21 cutters, 20 changeups, 16 sliders, and 6 curveballs. His fastball was clocked at 141 km/h.

After starting the season with five starts, Yoon was originally scheduled to start the final game of a three-game midweek series against the Lotte Giants on April 28. However, after the home games against the Kiwoom Heroes on the 24th and Lotte on the 28th were canceled due to rain, the rotation was changed, and Kia went with Lee Yi-ri, Will Crow, and Yoon Young-chul for the three-game series this weekend.

Before the game, Kia manager Lee Beom-ho said, “In terms of rotation, (Yang) Hyun-jong-ki can pitch, so there’s no reason to push (Yoon) Young-cheol back, and if Hyun-jong-ki pitches twice next week, Young-cheol will be back at the end of the order. I thought it would be better for the team. I thought it would be better for the team to have Young-cheol in the rotation today (31st) because it’s not about one game, but about the best rotation for the rest of the regular season,” Lee said.

Lee added, “I don’t expect the five starters to win 10 games or more, but I think we just need them to stay healthy and not get injured so that the games can flow similarly. “I think the most important thing is to grow a little bit,” he said. “We’re going to protect their pitch counts, and we’re going to pitch them according to the schedule. I’m going to throw 90 pitches today. The bullpen is rested, so we’ll use the bullpen guys according to the situation.”

Taking the mound at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in front of a packed house, Yoon Young-cheol had an easy first inning. After retiring the top three hitters in the first inning, Jung Soo-bin, Heo Kyung-min, and Henry Ramos, he allowed two hits in the second inning but struck out three to get himself out of trouble.

After retiring Park Kye-beom, Jeong Soo-bin, and Heo Kyung-min in order in the bottom of the third, Yoon got Ramos and Kim Jae-hwan to ground into consecutive singles in the top of the fourth. Yang Seok-hwan walked and Kang Seung-ho singled to load the bases, but Kim Min-hyuk grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.

After being silent until the fourth inning, the offense scored three runs in the top of the fifth, and Yoon stepped up. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Yoon struck out the leadoff batter, Ahn Seung-han, on a fly ball and then fought a 10-pitch battle with the next batter, Park Kye-beom. In the second inning, Jeong Soo-bin singled to center field to complete his mission.

Coach Lee Beom-ho, who had high hopes for Yoon’s performance, said, “Despite it being his first start of the season, Yoon pitched five scoreless innings and contributed greatly to the team’s victory. His crisis management skills were also outstanding.”

After the game, Yoon said, “My first start was delayed due to rain, but I pitched well as I thought I would. I was a little nervous, but I was able to have more fun throwing because a lot of fans were cheering me on,” he said.

He also mentioned his catcher Han Jun-soo, who has been in the battery with him since last season. “It was his first start of the season, too, so we talked a lot before the game. During the game, I saw how the batters reacted to my pitches and adjusted my pitch mix,” he said. “I threw with maximum confidence on the mound, and even though I was in scoring position, I focused on battling with the batters, which led to good results and I think I was able to avoid giving up any runs.”

Yoon, who joined KIA as the second overall pick in the first round of the 2023 KBO Rookie Draft after graduating from Chung-Am Middle and Chung-Am High School, impressed with an 8-7 record with a 4.04 ERA in 25 games and 122⅔ innings pitched, winning the Rookie of the Year title.

“I’m grateful to the fans for their great support throughout the three-game series,” he said. “I’ll continue to repay their support. I will continue to do my best to repay their support,” he said.


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