LG Twins v Hanwha Eagles, Thursday 3rd May 2012, 6.30pm

The weather is just about perfect for baseball at the beginning of May. A couple of weeks earlier and I’d have needed to have taken a coat, whilst a couple of weeks later and I’ll probably have to take a towel to mop up the sweat caused by doing nothing more strenuous than sitting still for three hours.

With such a short time when it’s just right I got myself along to Jamsil after work to watch LG Twins take on Hanwha Eagles. It was fairly busy outside, which surprised me a little as I didn’t really expect Hanwha to bring many fans or the game to be of much interest to the neutrals.

I didn’t have any success with the touts so just queued at the ticket window. I find it hard to believe how long it takes some people to make their mind up where they want to sit. It then took most of them just as long to decide how they wanted to pay, which was usually with a card that they only decided to look for after being asked for it. I’ve bought houses in less time than it took some of them to get a nine thousand won ticket.

I usually sit in the outfield but decided to go in the main stand for a change. My seat in block 330 was high enough up for me not to have to look through the netting and towards the edge of the Hanwha fans. There was a decent turnout in support of the Daejeon team, although I imagine that a lot of their fans will be living or working in Seoul.

A perfect evening for baseball.

It was the start of the second innings when I took my seat. Or rather found an empty one a little further over. My seat was occupied by one of a family group who must have just decided to sit wherever they fancied. Whatever, it was easier to find somewhere else than move them on, particularly as I doubted that it would be a sell-out.  I hadn’t missed much as the score was still nil-nil.

The Twins have had a bit of trouble with their pitchers this year with two of them, Kim Seong Hyun and Park Hyun Jun, getting close to a spell in chokey. They received suspended jail sentences and life-time bans for accepting bribes from gambling syndicates in return for deliberately walking players in the first innings. Still I suppose it means more game time for those that didn’t take a brown envelope home and in this game the beneficiary was Kim Kwang Sam.

Kim Kwang Sam – LG Twins

Yoo Chang Sik was the opening pitcher for Hanwha and like Kim Kwang Sam, he had a pretty good start. He struck out a couple of the home side in quick succession in the third and it was the fifth before he even gave up a hit.

Yoo Chang Sik – Hanwha Eagles

At the start of the sixth it was still scoreless. If you count nil-nil as scoreless that is. I suppose nobody had scored any runs, but there’s still a score. Anyway, the pitchers were on top but reaching that stage in the game where they were starting to tire. It’s a difficult call for the coaches as to when to pull them out, especially when no-one has even looked like getting a run. You don’t want call time too soon, but if you let them go on too long then they’ll suffer. It’s a bit like deciding when to get a dog put to sleep I suppose.

In the sixth innings Kim Kwang Sam found himself pitching to Kim Kyung Eon, with the bases loaded. The pitcher had already had a visit from the coach and catcher, but they had walked away without giving him that tap on the shoulder which signifies that you’re finished for the evening.

Kim Kyung Eon hit to second where the ball was fumbled. The mis-field was enough to allow the lad who had been on second,  Jang Sung Ho, to get home along with the fella who had been on third.

Jang Sung Ho slides home.

With the deadlock broken I went for a couple more beers. Whilst in the concourse I heard a big roar and when I got back to my seat Hanwha had doubled their lead to four-nil. That was the end of Kim Kwang Sam.

LG pulled a run back when it was their turn for their sixth innings. They had players on first and second bases when Lee Byung Kyu came to the plate. I noticed on the scoreboard that he was the captain of the Twins. Strange really, I’d not realised up until that point that baseball teams even have captains. They seem to have so much input from the coaches that I can’t really see what a captain would actually do. Lee Byung Kyu’s batting average looked pretty crap so I wondered if he was actually a bit of a Brearley. He did his bit with the bat though and managed to get a hit which got the lad on second base home to make it four-one.

With one man out in the eighth Hanwha brought their specialist ‘closing pitcher’ Denny Bautista. Apparently a closer is someone who can see a game out under pressure but can’t be arsed to pitch for a couple of hours from the start of a game.

Denny Bautista – Hanwha Eagles

Bautista has been around a bit, playing for a few Major League teams in America as well as plenty of minor ones. There’s probably a bit more pressure in MLB and so after that maybe closing a game for Hanwha doesn’t seem like too much of a big deal.

Bautista got off to a good start, striking a couple of players out. In the ninth though he found himself in the situation of having to pitch with the bases loaded, knowing that a hit over the fence at that point would snatch the game for LG and hasten the issue of his plane ticket home. Bautista held his nerve though and saw out the four-one victory.

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