“My lifespan is reduced by one year”바카라
Doosan Bears’ Kwak Bin Kwak started the seventh game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the Lotte Giants at Munsoo Baseball Stadium in Ulsan, South Korea, on the 1st and pitched six innings, throwing 104 pitches, giving up two hits, five walks, and striking out two.
There’s no doubt that the title of ‘ace’ was well deserved. On the day, Kwak threw a mix of curveballs (24), sliders (19) and change-ups (10), backed by a fastball that topped out at 149km (51 pitches), to record a quality start (six innings and three earned runs or less) and pick up his seventh win of the season (2-2). As impressive as his pitching was, it was his role that stood out.
Doosan was in the midst of a two-game losing streak before Kwak-Bin made his comeback after being scratched from the first team for the second time this year due to a back injury. The team was in desperate need of an ‘ace’ and Kwak-Bin’s return came at just the right time. On the 11th of last month, he pitched six innings against the KIA Tigers, giving up two runs (two earned) to bail the team out of a losing streak.
The ‘streak stopper’ role didn’t end there. Doosan was on a three-game losing streak before facing the LG Twins on the 17th, when Kwak Bin once again took the mound and pitched six innings of two-run ball, and on the 23rd, he pitched six innings of one-run ball against the Kiwoom Heroes, snapping the team’s four-game losing streak.
And when the team failed to defend their fifth place and could have fallen to the bottom of the standings, the ‘Ace’ was called upon once again to deliver his best performance. The start of the game was uneventful. Kwak Bin pitched a ‘perfect’ game against the Lotte bats, allowing only two hits from the first to the fourth inning. He pitched the best he could without much support from the batting line-up.
The first crisis came in the fifth inning. With a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth, Kwak Bin’s perfect game was interrupted when he gave up a single to Jeon Jun-woo, the leadoff hitter, and a walk to Park Seung-wook to put runners on first and second. However, Kwak was unfazed and got Yoo Kang-nam to fly out to left field and then struck out the next batter, Kim Min-seok, to get out of the jam.
His crisis management skills continued to shine in the sixth inning. This time, it wasn’t a lucky escape, but pure skill. In the sixth inning, Kwak gave up walks to Ko Seung-min and Ahn Chi-hong and a single to Yoon Dong-hee, leaving the bases loaded. Kwak-Bin got Jack Rex to fly out to shallow centre field to give him a respite, induced Jeon Jun-Woo to fly out to second base to quickly rack up the outs, and got Han Dong-Hee to ground out to third base to end the threat.
Doosan held on to the lead in the bottom of the inning as Kwak Bin pitched a perfect game to preserve the one-run lead. They took a one-run lead in the top of the ninth thanks to Kang Seung-ho’s solo home run, then gave up a run in the bottom of the ninth, but managed to hold on for the win and finally snap a two-game losing streak.
After the game, Chung, who saved the day with runners on second and third in the bottom of the ninth, said, “I wanted to win. I threw confidently as I remembered the good performance of (Kwak) Binyi from last year to this year when he started,” he said, “and (Kwak) Binyi smiled at me. I’m going to ask him to buy me a coffee venti size one,” he said happily.
When Kwak Bin heard the news, he asked, “Do you want me to buy you another coffee?” and then added, “I think I’ll have to buy you another one. I’m grateful that (Chung) Chul-won didn’t score on my pitch. He has a different brain structure. I thought he was going to throw another forkball because of his confidence. (Yang) Willie blocked it really well. Every time I see something like that, I feel like I’m losing a year of life,” he joked, smiling broadly.
Despite her recent four-game winning streak, Kwak Bin struggled with a number of things, including adjusting to the unfamiliar mound at Munsu Baseball Stadium. Kwak Bin said, “I was under pressure because there was not much difference between us and Lotte. My balance was really bad. But thanks to a good lead from senior (Yang) Ji-won, I threw well. “I had a lot of confidence until the day before (30th), but the mound didn’t seem to fit,” he said, adding, “I held my spring camp (in 2021) at Munsu Baseball Stadium, but it was my first time on the mound, so (the pitching plate) went back and forth about three times.
Asked if he was worried about the bases loaded in the sixth inning, he said, “Barnes pitched so well except for the first inning. I felt like I shouldn’t have given him a run. I felt like we shouldn’t give up a run. Even with the bases loaded, I was like, ‘I don’t think he’s going to give up any runs,'” he said, adding that in the ninth inning, with runners on second and third, “I felt like (Chung) could really stop him. Yesterday (30th), I got hit by Yoon Dong-hee, and I felt like if I got hit again, the mood would be really bad, but I didn’t think it would happen because I trusted (Chung).”
Since returning from injury, Kwak Bin has snapped a four-fight losing streak: two straight, three straight, four straight, and two straight. A true ‘ace in the hole’. “I think it’s great that I came out and broke the losing streak. Next time, I hope it’s a winning streak,” he smiled. Kwak Bin made the best of an unfamiliar venue in the worst of conditions. It’s no wonder he’s been selected for the Hangzhou Asian Games following the World Baseball Classic (WBC).