I knew it would always get better, but I didn’t know it would be like this. The KIA Tigers are experiencing the effect of recruiting Kim Tae-gun (34) beyond imagination.
KIA won 7-0 against KT Wiz in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League regular season away game held at Suwon KT Wiz Park, Jangan-gu, Suwon Special City on the 8th. With this victory, KIA, which has won 4 consecutive wins, jumped to 7th place, two games behind NC Dinos and Lotte Giants in 4th place.
It was a complete victory against national team ace Koh Young-pyo (32). Prior to the game, Ko Young-pyo was the pitcher who walked the least in the league with 0.9 walks per 9 innings. Against such a pitcher, getting on the KIA mound was a matchup in which victory could not be easily guaranteed with Lee Eui-ri (21), who had the worst control in the league with 7.94 walks per 9 innings (a pitcher who threw more than 30 innings).
Lee Eui-ri was shaken from the start. In the first inning, he threw 11 fastballs against Kim Min-hyeok and Bae Jeong-dae table setter, resulting in 1 walk and 1 strikeout. Against Hwang Jae-gyun, I tried mixing a slider and a changeup. The slider’s control wasn’t bad. In the end, he struck out on a swing. In Jang Seong-wu’s at-bat, Lee Eui-ri was thrown into a crisis on 1st and 3rd base, but Sang-cheol Moon managed to finish the first inning by striking out looking with 7 fastballs and 1 slider.
Tae-gun Kim’s ball combination, which tested his condition and control of the day on various courses up, down, left and right, began to change from this time. The fastball-oriented ball mix was abandoned. Only hitters with a batting average of 10%, such as Jang Jun-won, who hit 8th in the 2nd inning, and Lee Sang-ho, who hit 9th in the 5th, only reduced the number of balls with fastballs, and quickly built up an out count mainly with breaking balls. At the end of the second inning, when the number of balls increased while dealing with Oh Yoon-seok and Jang Jun-won안전놀이터, he went straight to the mound and cut off the bad flow. As a result, Eui-ri Lee showed the best pitching this season with 3 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts and no runs in 5 innings (99 pitches).
As even Eui-ri Lee was shown zeroing, KIA began to realize the influence of the main catcher and the effect of recruiting Kim Tae-gun. It is not for nothing that the fans called her the nickname ‘Taegun Mama’ after only 4 days of recruitment. Although it is only 4 games, KIA started to achieve the second best performance in the league with an average ERA of 2.00 after Kim Tae-gun was recruited. In particular, unlike the No. 1 Doosan Bears (ERA 1.75), which included the results of two foreign pitchers, it is all the more impressive because it was achieved with a rotation of Yun Young-cheol, Yang Hyeon-jong, Kim Kon-guk, and Lee Eui-ri without a single foreign pitcher.
It is Kim Tae-gun who has a strong presence even at the plate. After trading on the 5th, he made a substitute appearance against Incheon SSG Landers, which he joined 1 hour before the start of the game, and scored 1 RBI on a sacrifice fly. Since then, he has been playing an active role as a new stealer in 4 consecutive wins by raising RBIs in every game in scoring position. In the middle of the game, KIA fans quickly got used to Kim Tae-goon as a smirking veteran, reading KIA pitchers and asking opponents without hesitation.
Kim Tae-gun was also aware of this atmosphere. Kim Tae-gun, who I recently met in Suwon, said, “I heard a lot of stories that he was originally a KIA player. I think fans say that because he won the game, so I think it’s fortunate.” So I try to have a little more fun and do well,” he said, looking forward to meeting the home fans.
Recently, KIA entered the autumn baseball competition in earnest by replacing both foreign pitchers in one day after filling the home room. Alternative foreign pitchers are about to debut one after another, and in the game on the 8th, even captain Kim Seon-bin (34) returned, bringing KIA closer to a full body.
Kim Tae-gun said, “I won all the games after I came, and there are only a few games left until the end of the first half. If we finish in a good atmosphere, foreign pitchers will also come in and it will be a stepping stone to rise (to the top).” I believe that better results will come out,” he said with strength.