‘Three innings of no-hit ball’…manager admits “Lim Ki-young is a reliable ‘yardstick'”

Kia Tigers’ Lim Ki-young pitched a no-hitter despite a big deficit to help secure the win. The hold was a ‘bonus’.

KIA snapped a two-game losing streak with a 6-0 shutout victory in the eighth game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the Lotte Giants at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan on Thursday.

Starting pitcher Lee Yi-ri tossed five scoreless innings, and the bats came alive with six runs in the top of the sixth inning, led by Socrates Brito’s RBI single.

Lim Ki-young, who came on in the sixth inning, was outstanding. After ending the sixth inning with a triple play, Lim took the mound in 스포츠토토 the seventh and eighth innings to shut down the Lotte bats. In the bottom of the eighth, Lim gave up singles to Jeon Jun-woo and Ahn Chi-hong, but retired Jung Hoon and Han Dong-hee to end Lotte’s rally.

Lim pitched three innings of two-hit ball, striking out two and walking none, bouncing back from a poor outing the day before in which he allowed two runs on one hit and one walk in ⅔ innings.

Lim added one hold, giving him five on the season. The three-inning hold is the 150th in KBO history, and the last pitcher to record a three-inning hold for KIA was Lee Min-woo (now with the Hanwha Eagles) in 2019 on June 11 against the Gwangju Samsung Lions.

KIA had missed out on the win the day before despite using a full bullpen, but all of its bullpen arms were available except for Choi Ji-min, who threw 34 pitches. Even then, Lim Ki-young took the burden off the rest of the pitchers by going three innings on his own. Left-hander Kim Yoo-shin pitched the remaining one inning.

After the game, Kia head coach Kim Jong-guk praised Im’s performance, saying, “Lee Yi-ri pitched five scoreless innings to set the stage for the victory, and Im Ki-young pitched three scoreless innings in a tough situation.”

Im is a pitcher who has spent more seasons in the starting rotation than the bullpen. Last season, he only pitched in two games out of the bullpen, but this year, his position has been reassigned to the bullpen, and Yoon Young-cheol, the left-hander who survived a five-man competition for the starting spot, has been rotating through the starting rotation.

Im struggled in April with a 4.85 ERA in eight games, 13 innings, and one save, but he stabilized in May with a 1.50 ERA in nine games, 18 innings, and three saves.

More than anyone, the coaching staff has been pleased with Lim’s performance. When asked about Im’s May rebound ahead of Game 4, Kim Jong-kook said, “In the middle, along with Choi Ji-min, Im is doing so well. She’s almost like a gatekeeper, and she can come out and pitch more than one inning at any time, so she’s giving us a lot of strength in the bullpen,” he said.

“Some players, like Im Ki-young, have a lot of starting experience, so they can make adjustments,” Kim said. “Some players can throw one inning at full strength, and some players have the ability to control their strength like Im Ki-young, so each player’s type is a little bit different.”

From the team’s perspective, the addition of a more versatile card gives the bullpen some breathing room. Lim has proven his competitiveness as he tries to adapt to his new role, and so far, KIA’s “Lim Ki-young bullpen conversion” has been somewhat successful.

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