Hanwha coach Choi Won-ho on 5-game winning streak

“Ryu Hyun-jin washes away opening day slump…Lim Jong-chan needs to improve”

“Ryu Hyun-jin (Hanwha Eagles) was able to clean up his opening day slump. We look forward to seeing Lim Jong-chan’s further growth.”

Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho praised his players after a five-game winning streak.

Choi’s Hanwha defeated Lee Kang-cheol’s KT Wiz 3-2 in the home opener of the 2024 KBO League on Monday at Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon, South Korea. The win was the fifth in a row for the Reds, who improved to 5-1 on the season.

This matchup is also highly anticipated for the pitching performance of Ryu Hyun-jin. Ryu, who made his professional debut in 2006, is the undisputed ace of Korean baseball, having compiled a 98-52 record with one save and 1238 strikeouts with a 2.80 ERA in 190 games (1269 innings) in the KBO through 2012, and a 78-48 record with one save and a 3.27 ERA in 186 games (1055.1 innings) in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 2013 through last year with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays.

It had been 4,194 days since Ryu pitched in a regular-season home game for Daejeon on October 4, 2012, against the Nexen Heroes (now Kiwoom). Ten thousand people traveled to the Daejeon Hanwha Life Eagle Park to see him. With all 12,000 seats sold out, Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-yeon also made an appearance.

It has been more than five years and five months since Kim visited the Daejeon baseball stadium on October 19, 2018, for the first round of the semi-finals against the Kiwoom Heroes. During his first visit to the stadium, Kim spoke with Hanwha President Park Chan-hyuk and called on Moon Dong-ju and Chae Eun-sung, two key resources for the team.

And while Ryu delivered the performance everyone was hoping for, his 99th KBO victory will have to wait until another time. After a scoreless fifth inning, he gave up back-to-back RBI singles to Kang Baek-ho and Hwang Jae-gyun in the top of the sixth. His final line was six innings, eight hits, nine strikeouts and two runs, with his fastball reaching 147 kilometers.

After the game, Choi Won-ho applauded Ryu, saying, “Ryu fulfilled his role as a starter by pitching well, striking out nine batters in six innings,” adding, “He was able to clean up his opening day slump with quality pitching.”

Han Seung-hyuk (1.1 scoreless innings) and Joo Hyun-sang (W, 1.2 scoreless innings) were also outstanding in relief of Ryu. Choi gave a thumbs-up to Han Seung-hyuk and Joo Hyun-sang for their three innings of relief after Ryu, saying, “It was a big help for the team.”

However, the star of the game was undoubtedly Lim Jong-chan. The 토토 Hanwha bats were quiet after the two runs in the top of the first inning, but in the bottom of the ninth, after a Jonathan Peraza double, a Chae Eun-sung groundout, a Noh Si-hwan walk, and an Ahn Chi-hong strikeout, Im Jong-chan came to the plate with runners on first and second and hit a dramatic two-run double to left-center to give Hanwha a thrilling victory.

“After scoring in the first inning, the batting lineup was a bit stagnant, but in the bottom of the ninth inning, Peraza’s run and Im Jong-chan’s finish wrapped up the game,” Choi said with a bright smile, adding, “Im Jong-chan has been hitting well since the start of the season, and we look forward to seeing him grow even more.”

Finally, Choi Won-ho said, “The support of our fans, who filled all the stands at the home opener, must have given the players great strength,” and left the field saying, “The entire team will do their best, so please continue to support us.”

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