SUWON, South Korea, virtually every time Kim Min-hyuck comes off the bench for the KT Wiz this postseason, he is a threat to get a base hit.
Kim, an outfielder limited to pinch-hitting duties because of lingering hamstring issues, is batting 3-for-4 through three games in the Korean Series against the LG Twins. This is after Kim went 2-for-3 with two walks in five games in the previous series against the NC Dinos.
Kim Min-hyuck of the KT Wiz celebrates after hitting an RBI single against the LG Twins during Game 3 of the Korean Series at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Nov. 10, 2023.
In the Wiz's 8-7 loss Friday night in Game 3, Kim delivered an RBI single to cut his team's deficit to 3-2 in the fifth inning. The left-handed Kim got the hit against tough lefty reliever Ham Deok-ju too.
Speaking before Game 4 on Saturday, Kim said he has been surprised by his own success rate.
"These results are almost shocking to me," Kim said at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, just south of Seoul. "And it builds confidence. I feel like I can do some damage every time I go in as a pinch hitter."
Kim said there is no special recipe for his success.
"I've been a backup outfielder in the past, and I've had plenty of pinch-hit at-bats before," Kim said. "And I am not putting extra pressure on myself just because it's the postseason. I think it's more fun playing in these games. I think I've been getting the results because I am having fun."
Kim said his hamstring is still not yet 100 percent, but with the adrenaline rush during the game, he didn't feel any pain Friday when he was running the bases.
Kim Min-hyuck of the KT Wiz (L) is tagged out at home against the LG Twins during Game 3 of the Korean Series at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Nov. 10, 2023.
Kim said his coaches don't give him any technical tips before his at-bat.
"They just tell me to get ready ahead of time. Otherwise, their message is always the same," Kim said. "They tell me to relax and not worry about it even if I hit into an out."
After delivering his hit in the fifth, Kim stayed on without being lifted for a pinch runner. That might have cost the Wiz a run, as Kim was tagged out at home trying to score from third on a groundball to third base.
"If I had been able to get a quicker start off the bag, I might have been able to score there," Kim said. "I think that's where I may be hurting the team. I obviously want to run at 100 percent, but it's just not possible at the moment."
Game 3 was an instant classic with multiple lead changes. The Wiz took a 7-5 lead into the top of the ninth, and was one out away from taking the game and a 2-1 series lead, before Oh Ji-hwan smacked a three-run homer to put the Twins up 8-7.
Kim Min-hyuck of the KT Wiz (R) celebrates after hitting a single against the LG Twins during Game 3 of the Korean Series at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Nov. 10, 2023.
The bright spot for the Wiz, though, was the fact that their two boppers, Park Byung-ho and Anthony Alford, both picked up two hits, after going hitless in the first two games and looking lost in the process.
Park hit a two-run homer that gave the Wiz that 7-5 lead in the eighth, while Alford had an RBI double right after Kim's hit in the fifth.
"I think those guys will be able to build on that game," Kim said. "Now that they got the first hits out of the way, we're all expecting bigger things from them."
Source: Yonhap News Agency