Somewhere in between grueling and gritty. That’s the story of Na Gyun-ahn (25, Lotte Giants), who threw 122 pitches in six innings, allowing three runs on 11 hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.
He started against the NC Dinos in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Sajik Stadium on the 12th.
From the beginning of the game, Na struggled against the NC bats. He was hit by a pitch in every inning, leaving runners on base. There were also runs. In the top of the first inning, he gave up an RBI double to Jason Martin with runners on second and third for a 1-0 lead. In the top of the second, he gave up a sacrifice fly to Kim Joo-won to put runners on first and third, making it 0-2.
Shaken, but not broken, Na hung in there. In the top of the fifth inning, with runners on first and third, he gave up an infield single to Park Gun-woo, which allowed Son Asub to score from third base, making the score 0-3.
Na Gyun-ahn had already thrown 104 pitches by the top of the fifth, but the Lotte bench sent him out in the top of the sixth. He got the first two outs, but then gave up back-to-back hits to Son Asub and Park Min-woo. At this point, Choi Young-hwan and Kim Jin-wook were warming up in the LOTTE bullpen, but there was no movement from the LOTTE bench. Acting LOTTE manager Lee Jong-woon and pitching coach Kim Hyun-wook could only look on.
In the end, it had to be Na Kyun-ahn, who threw a cutter to Park Geon-woo, who flied out to center field to end his outing. His final line: 6 innings, 122 pitches, 11 hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts, 3 runs. He threw 122 pitches, his most in a single game (previously 115 against the Ulsan Samsung Lions on June 6). It could have been seen as a grueling effort.
First of all, it was important to ask whether there was any point in keeping Na Kyun-ahn on the mound while he threw 122 pitches. On this day, there were even more questions as he was attacked by the NC bats from the start and gave up 11 hits. Even if he was in good form and had great command of his pitches, and the opposition responded well, there is no excuse for giving up 11 hits. Even if he was able to hold his own as an ace, he was a ticking time bomb that could explode at any moment.
And it wasn’t like Na Gyun-ahn was a one-hit wonder; he had thrown 104 pitches by the top of the fifth inning, so the bullpen was warming up just in time. Of course, they were tired after playing four games in a row, including a doubleheader last weekend, but they had a day of rest (11 days) beforehand. Many circumstances pointed toward a change, including a starting pitcher who was getting better and a relatively fresh bullpen that was ready to go, but the acting manager could only see Na Kyun-ahn.
Before the game, Lee said, “We have no tomorrow. We have to do our best one game at a time, and then look at the numbers and probabilities (of qualifying for the postseason). Even if it’s a 1 percent chance, we have to play to the end. If we keep winning today and tomorrow, the odds will keep getting better. You have to focus on the game you’re playing and not on the other team.”
It is the duty of any professional, including coaches, to give it their all until the day the postseason is over. But it’s also their responsibility to utilize their players appropriately.메이저놀이터
With Lotte’s schedule continuing through Sunday (Nov. 17), Na Kyun-ahn is scheduled to pitch for the Daegu Samsung Lions four days after throwing 122 pitches. It’s important to note that Na’s pitching is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of hard work and determination.