OH SEUNG-HWAN FINALLY GETS 400 SAVES DESPITE RETIREMENT SPECULATION AND CRITICISM
Korean baseball was once known as the ‘stage of the 1982 generation’. Choo Shin-soo (SSG Landers), Lee Dae-ho, Kim Tae-gyun, Jung Geun-woo (retired), and others of their age who made a mark on Korean baseball led the sport both domestically and internationally. But time hasn’t slowed them down.Kim Tae-gyun and Jeong Geun-woo retired from baseball in 2020 and Lee Dae-ho in 2022. Oh Seung-hwan (Samsung Lions), a pitcher born in 1982, also had his ups and downs this season .The oldest pitcher in the KBO, he had a rough start to the season, blowing a string of blown saves before being relieved of his closer duties. Those around him said, “Oh Seung-hwan is getting old. There was even talk of Seung-hwan preparing to retire.
As he will be a free agent (FA) for the last time this season, it was expected that he would not be able to overcome the limitations of age and finish his career as it is. However, in May, Seung-hwan Oh experimented with all sorts of things to make a comeback, including pitching as a starter 19 years after his debut .At a tender age, he left his pride behind and started from scratch, returning to the closer’s role and impressing fans by becoming the first Korean-American to record 500 saves in June. The 2023 season was a series of challenges .Seung-hwan’s insecurities were still on display, and when he couldn’t find his old groove after trying everything, his insides burned.
On June 16 against KT WIZ, he nervously threw the ball and slammed his glove in response to the bench’s grating instructions .Fans were shocked, as Seung-hwan usually doesn’t show his emotions. He was sent down to the second team, and the word “retirement” surfaced again. Seung-hwan Oh literally fought tooth and nail. He gritted his teeth, believing that he could make a comeback. Samsung coach Park Jin-man, who sent him to the second team, encouraged him, saying, “I heard that he trained harder than anyone else in the second team.” Oh Seung-hwan didn’t give up.Oh didn’t give up.
He knew he couldn’t defy time, but he didn’t want to end his career the same way .He tried everything he could under the circumstances. Little by little, he started to come back to life. Surprisingly for a 41-year-old, Seung-hwan’s pitches started to improve in August when the heat wave hit. His body wasn’t what it used to be, but his focus and heart were. He was back to his old self in August, appearing in 13 games and recording 10 saves. The upward trend continued. In September, he was outstanding, posting a 1.04 ERA in eight games. The 400-save milestone in the KBO seemed far away .In a doubleheader against the Lotte Giants on February 2, Oh looked like his old self, closing out both games and collecting two saves.
By the end of the day, Oh’s KBO career saves stood at 399.Speaking of nines, the 400-save opportunity didn’t come easily. On May 5 against the KT Wiz, he was not in save position when the Wiz scored a run in the top of the ninth inning to make it a four-run game after leading 5-2. Since then, Samsung has lost three straight games and is down to just two games remaining this season .Seung-hwan Oh doesn’t have much time left. No one was sure if he would be able to keep the closer’s job next year or even stay in the game. Samsung played its final home game of the season against SSG on April 14 at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu, South Korea, in front of a sellout crowd of 24,000.The game was not easy. Samsung was down 1-3 going into the sixth inning.
But the Samsung juniors rallied for Oh Seung-hwan. In the bottom of the sixth, they scored three runs in dramatic fashion to make it 4-3, and it was up to Seung-hwan to save the game. Seung-hwan Oh took the mound earlier than usual. In the top of the eighth inning, the tying run was on second base. His opponent was his friend Shin-Soo Choo. Seung-hwan Oh threw a ‘fastball’ on a full count .Shin-soo Choo reacted, and the ball was hit hard to first base. Samsung’s first baseman Lee Sung-kyu threw himself to make the catch. Seung-hwan Oh, who was expressionless, smiled and grabbed Lee’s hand. Seung-hwan Oh was again called upon in the top of the ninth inning with a 5-3 lead. With runners on first and second, his pitch count exceeded 30 pitches. But no one could stop him. He worked a full count against the final batter, Park Sung-hwan, and got him to fly out to straightaway left field, then hugged catcher Kang Min-ho and smiled broadly .All the Samsung players went up 토토사이트 to the mound to congratulate Oh Seung-hwan.