In April, if he was noticed for his quick feet, in June it was his defense. Bae Ji-hwan (24), who led the Pittsburgh Pirates to six consecutive victories, is receiving favorable reviews one after another.
American media Trip Live reported on the 6th (Korean time), “Bae Ji-hwan stepped in at the decisive moment to continue Pittsburgh’s winning streak.”안전놀이터
Previously, Pittsburgh won 5-4 in the 2023 Major League away match against the Oakland Athletics held at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, and ran 6 consecutive wins. It was not an easy winning streak. It was a series of blood-drying games with only four victories by one point during the six-game winning streak. Trip Live explained, “In a close match, one or two plays determine the outcome. Bae Ji-hwan appeared in all three plays.”
The three plays that the media picked were as follows. The first was the defense that caught Jace Peterson’s batted ball heading to the left-middle fence in the top of the 6th inning with no runners and 2 out. This batted ball was at least a double hit with a distance of 390 feet and an expected batting average of 0.660 at 101.6 miles per hour. However, Bae Ji-hwan ran 73 feet from the center of the outfield, hit the wall, and caught it, turning it into an ordinary center fielder’s ball.
The second was also Lake Bi. He had an easier hit than the 6th, but the situation was more pressing. Pittsburgh was ahead by one point, 5-4, and in the top of the ninth, Alemidis Diaz hit Bae Ji-hwan with one out on first and third base. Bae Ji-hwan kept the lead by 1 point by spraying it straight home, keeping the third base runner in check, and without Oakland’s follow-up hit, Pittsburgh was able to win six games in a row.
Center fielder Bae Ji-hwan’s jump catch./AFPBBNews=News 1
Bae Ji-hwan./AFPBBNews=News 1
The last play was an infield hit recorded in the bottom of the 8th inning. Bae Ji-hwan, who had no hits in previous at-bats, only made a ground ball this time. However, Pittsburgh shortstop Nick Allen was conscious of Bae Ji-hwan’s quick feet, so he couldn’t throw one and it became an infield hit. Here, Bae Ji-hwan made a decisive contribution to the team’s victory, scoring the final run by stepping on third base on Austin Hedges’ single hit and home on Andrew McCutchen’s floating ball.
According to Trip Live, Pittsburgh coach Derek Shelton was delighted with every aspect of Bae Ji-hwan, but particularly liked his approach against left-handed bullpen Sam Moll in the eighth inning. Coach Shelton praised, “When playing against a left-handed player, you just have to make a ball in play and do it. Bae Ji-hwan did that in the 8th inning. Running at that speed is too fast and puts a lot of pressure on the opponent’s defense.” He went on to praise the rest of the play, saying he “defensively read the ball well, jumped at the right time, and tied up runners in good position in the ninth.”
Starter Yoan Oviedo, who contributed to Pittsburgh’s victory, recorded a quality start plus with 4 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts and 5 runs (2 earned) in 7 innings that day. It’s nice to have a center fielder like Jihwan.” Colin Holderman, who earned his first save in his career with a scoreless pitch in the 9th inning, also enthused, “Bae Ji-hwan is a really incredible player. I have complete trust in him.”
Bae Ji-hwan, who was pointed out for frequent base run mistakes just two weeks ago, has matured. Bae Ji-hwan said, “I want to show consistency in defense. I will run as hard as I can.”