Aces to go toe-to-toe in win-or-go-home KBO postseason game

October 21, 2022

SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) — Two dominant starting pitchers will toe the rubber in an elimination game in the South Korean baseball postseason on the weekend, each tasked with extending his club’s season into next week.

The Kiwoom Heroes and the KT Wiz are knotted at two games apiece in the best-of-five first round in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) postseason. Game 5 is at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Heroes’ home, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul.

Kiwoom Heroes starter An Woo-jin pitches against the KT Wiz during Game 1 of the first round in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Oct. 16, 2022. (Yonhap)

The Heroes will send right-hander An Woo-jin to the hill. The regular season strikeout king (224) and ERA champion (2.11) blanked the Wiz over six innings in Game 1 last Sunday, as the Heroes went on to win 8-4. He struck out nine and gave up just three hits but was pulled after only 88 pitches due to blisters on his index and middle fingers.

But An will be going on five days’ rest and his fingers aren’t an issue. He was also prepared to pitch in relief in Thursday’s Game 4 had the Heroes held a late lead. Instead, they dropped that game 9-6 to send the series to Game 5.

The Wiz will turn to their American left-hander Wes Benjamin on Saturday. He threw seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts in the Wiz’s 2-0 victory in Game 2 on Monday. He will have had four days of rest.

With neither starter expected to concede much, the game could be decided by relief pitching. Both teams have had some issues with their bullpens in the series. On Thursday, six Heroes relievers allowed eight runs on 12 hits in six innings. For the Wiz, Kim Min-su, one of the KBO’s most effective setup men all season, failed to record an out in the seventh inning and was charged with two earned runs.

The winner of this series will go on to meet the LG Twins in the next round, also a best-of-five, starting Monday. The Twins received a bye to that stage after posting the second-best record in the regular season.

The SSG Landers, the regular season champions, are waiting in the best-of-seven Korean Series.