KT manager Lee Kang-cheol “Kim Min-hyuk, I was going to leave him out due to injury…”
After winning three straight games to advance to the Korean Series (KS) after two losses, KT Wiz manager Lee Kang-cheol smiled as he said, “We played baseball like KT.”
“We went from last place in the regular season to second place,” Lee said after the Wiz won 3-2 at home against the NC Dinos in the fifth game of the baseball playoffs (PO) at Katie Wiz Park in Suwon on Friday. “We lost the first and second games in the PO, but I thought it wouldn’t end like this.”
“Young-pyo Ko pitched well in Game 3, William Cuevas in Game 4, and Wes Benjamin pitched well today to get us to KS. We played starting baseball like KT,” he said.
“Today, we had one defensive error after another (in the third inning), but Benjamin gave us a chance to catch up by keeping the runs to a minimum,” Lee said. “The batters had one chance to tie the game, and the pitching staff did a good job of closing it out.”
On the day, Lee proved to be a game-changer on several occasions.
Trailing 0-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning, KT brought up pinch-hitter Kim Min-hyuk with runners on first and third, and he hit a two-run double down the right-field line to tie the game.
“After that chance, I felt like I wouldn’t get another chance to score,” Lee said, “so I thought we had to play for the win, even if the result was wrong.”
“Even if (leadoff hitter Moon Sang-chul) was out, I tried to bring up Kim Min-hyuk in the second inning.”
Lee also praised Kim for playing through his thigh injury.
“Actually, I didn’t want to put him in the PO lineup (because of his injury), but he’s a good hitter, so I put him in,” Lee said. I think it was a good decision,” he laughed.
When asked if he plans to use Kim as a pinch-hitter in KS, Lee said, “I think it will be a little difficult to start him,” adding, “I will decide after seeing his condition.”
When asked about the reason for replacing Benjamin, who was pitching well with one out in the sixth inning at 2-2, with Son Dong-hyun in the bullpen, Lee said, “He was pitching on four days’ rest and had thrown more than 80 pitches.” “Also, his arm didn’t seem to be working well, so I thought it would be better for him to fight in the middle, so I quickly replaced him.”
“The postseason is a flow game, and I thought it would be good to have a player with good energy,” Lee added.
Son appeared in all five PO games and pitched seven shutout innings, earning the PO Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.
“He gained experience by replacing Park Young-hyun, who was away (competing at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games),” Lee said. “He pitched well in the first game of the PO against Cheongbaek, so I thought he should be used in the middle.”
He also explained why he didn’t order Hwang Jae-gyun to bunt with the bases loaded in the sixth inning of the 2-2 tie.
At the time, KT had a strong offence, with Hwang Jae-gyun singling to right and Anthony Alford walking to load the bases before Park Byung-ho grounded into an infield single to score the winning run.
“I signed for a bunt, but the opposing batter threw a hard pitch,” said Lee Kang-chul. “I thought it would be unfair if I couldn’t bunt, so I immediately changed my sign to a hard hit.”
After passing the PO after twists and turns, KT will now play KS, where the LG Twins are waiting.
Lee Kang-cheol said, “I haven’t thought about KS yet. We will now think about the starting rotation,” Lee said. 사설토토