1-run ERA! Back to his old self, the 22-year-old Smile Man is determined to “go for three!”
“I’m getting ready to go out again today. We’ve been trusted, so we have to give back.”
It’s August, the month of the season. The players may be more intense than their manager in tightening their minds.
The Lotte Giants will play the second game of their weekend series against the KIA Tigers at Sajik Stadium in Busan on Aug. 12.
The Giants are coming off a 7-1 victory the day before, their second straight win. However, they are still four games behind the fifth-place Doosan Bears. With a win-loss margin of -4, they have a long way to go.
Choi Jun-yong has been involved in both wins. After pitching a scoreless eighth inning against the Gochuk Kiwoom Heroes on August 10, he pitched a scoreless ninth inning against the Busan KIA on August 11.
In six games in August, he pitched 6⅔ innings with a 1-0 record and a 1.35 ERA. He upped his fastball’s velocity up to 150 mph and his pitches were as balanced as they’ve been all year. He lowered his season ERA to 1.96. It’s been about a year and four months since April last year, when he had nine saves in a month.
“As for my ERA, I’m honestly very lucky these days,” Choi said with a smile before the game.
The day before, Choi had come on in the bottom of the seventh inning with Kia down by one run and pitched 1⅓ innings to help his team win. However, Choi gave up a walk to the first batter he faced after throwing six consecutive changeups, and Kim Do-young singled to load the bases.
Park Chan-ho grounded out to first base to end the game, but it was a big play by first baseman Jung Hoon. Jung made a diving catch and then threw back the other way to touch first base. Choi Jun-yong was seen asking him to concentrate, saying, “Quickly cover first base.
“(Son) Sung-bin said, ‘What do you want to throw?’ I said, ‘Changeup. I thought, ‘Won-joon Choi has a good fastball, I’m on the mound, and everyone is going to go for the fastball,’ so I got the first strike with the changeup, but then the game got a little too long and I gave up a walk.”
But in the eighth inning, he found his form. With a 150-kilometer fastball, he turned KIA’s center fielder Na Sung-beom and Choi Hyung-woo into a triple play. Choi said, “I spent a lot of time with Coach Kim Hyun-wook and got my pitching form down. Also, my seniors told me a lot of good things, which gave me confidence,” he emphasized.
“I shadow pitch every day and pay attention to my center movement. I’ve tried lowering my arm and slowly extending my extension, but in the end, the key to my delivery is my center of gravity and the timing of my effort. The extension itself is still the same at over 2 meters, but the pitching form itself has gotten a little faster, and I’m focusing on keeping it behind me instead of rushing to throw it. The point is to utilize the vertical movement, which is my strength.” 꽁머니사이트
After the game, Lotte manager Larry Sutton said, “Jun-yong Choi’s multi-inning performance saved the day. We won the game as a one-run team.” “Actually, I was a little shaky in the first inning, so I wanted to pitch one more inning, but I’m glad they asked me to pitch more. I’m ready to pitch again today,” he said.
Depending on the game situation, he could pitch three consecutive games. Choi Jun-yong said, “It’s an important time. I told them to leave me in charge because I can pitch. I’ll do a better job in the second half of the game,” he said.