Moon Dong-ju ‘QS’, Yoon Young-cheol ‘5 runs’ split on the same day

Two Young Gun aces vying for Rookie of the Year honors took the mound side-by-side, but had mixed results.

Moon Dong-ju (Hanwha Eagles) and Yoon Young-chul (KIA Tigers) started against the Doosan Bears in Daejeon and the Lotte Giants in Busan on April 12, respectively. Moon earned his seventh win of the season with six innings of four-hit ball, one walk, five strikeouts and one earned run against Doosan, while Yoon struggled in four and two-thirds innings of eight-hit ball, one walk, three strikeouts and five earned runs. Moon’s ERA, which was 3.39, dropped to 3.28, while Yoon’s, which was 3.81, rose to 4.13.

The two pitchers, who are in their second and first year as professionals, respectively, have been among the favorites to win the Rookie of the Year award this season. Moon Dong-ju has been healthy this season with a fastball that reaches up to 160.1 km/h, making him the first to draw attention. He struggled with his fastball last year, but has returned to form in a year. Yoon Young-cheol, the second overall pick, didn’t have the same fastball as Moon Dong-joo, but he had a more complete arsenal of pitches, including a changeup, and was considered to be better than Moon in terms of command. The two had similar ERAs, and with Moon’s team’s innings limitations and his participation in the Asian Games, it was expected that their postseason performance would be close.

The two pitchers took the field on the same day for comparison, and it was Moon Dong-ju who had the laugh. Facing Doosan’s ace Kwak-Bin Kwak for the second time this season at Doosan on Dec. 12, Moon had a solid outing and earned a quality start (six innings or less over six starts).

It was only in the sixth inning, after drawing a two-strike lead against Jose Rojas, that he was able to get a hit. It was a stellar performance for Hanwha, which had lost back-to-back games in the previous two games after foreign one-two punchers Ricardo Sanchez and Felix Peña collapsed in succession and Seung-hyuk Han struggled. Both the performance and the situation were worthy of the title of domestic ace.

Unlike Moon, Yoon struggled mightily. Until the fourth inning, Yoon was doing just as well as Moon. After starting the first inning with a triple, Yoon gave up a run in the second inning on a double by Jeon Jun-woo and Niko Gudrum, but struck out the side in the third inning.

The bats provided plenty of support. The Kia bats were hot, taking a 6-0 lead in the second inning. In the first inning, Kim Do-young led off with a walk and Na Sung-beom brought him in with a double. In the second, Han Jun-soo led off with a double, followed by back-to-back singles by Choi Won-jun and Park Chan-ho. Choi Hyung-woo capped the scoring with an RBI single.

In the top of the fourth, Lotte scored a run on an error by first baseman Jung Hoon Chung, and in the top of the fifth, Kim Do-young added a run on an RBI single. The game was now 8-1, and Yoon’s only task was to protect the lead until the fifth inning.

He faced a threat in the fourth inning, but was able to get out of it. Yoon loaded the bases with one out on a double by Jeon Jun-woo and a walk by Jung Hoon, but Jeon failed to steal third base and the crisis was averted.

However, they faltered in the fifth inning. Yoon gave up back-to-back doubles to Noh Jin-hyuk and Son Sung-bin in the top of the fifth. He then gave up a single to Ahn Kwon-soo and an RBI double to Ahn Chi-hong. He got one more out, but was hit again by Jeon Jun-woo. What was supposed to be a one-sided game quickly became a three-run deficit.

One more out would have given them their eighth win of the season, and the KIA bench considered this as well, delaying the pitching change in the fifth inning, but with three runs on the board, they had no choice but to make a move.

The KIA bats exploded again after Yoon went down. An 8-5 game 토토 turned into a 13-5 game, and the victory belonged to Lim Ki-young, who followed Yoon with two and a third innings of scoreless relief.

After a mixed night on Dec. 12, the Rookie of the Year race looks to be in the hands of Moon Dong-ju for the time being. The nearly one-point difference is due to Moon’s lead in most metrics, including ERA. The lead in wins has also been leveled at seven. Even with Moon’s absence from the league due to the Asian Games, it will be hard for Yoon to catch up in the ratio stats. For Yoon, it was a slow night in Busan with one out.

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