After earning top S. Korean pitching award, American right-hander eyes championship

November 8, 2018

INCHEON, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) — American right-hander Josh Lindblom says it’s “definitely a big honor” to be named the top pitcher in the South Korean league in 2018.

And now he has his sight on another major prize — a league championship.

Lindblom, No. 1 starter for the Doosan Bears in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), was announced on Tuesday as the recipient of the 2018 Choi Dong-won Award.

Josh Lindblom of the Doosan Bears walks off the mound during the top of the seventh innning of Game 1 of the Korean Series against the SK Wyverns at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Nov. 4, 2018. (Yonhap)

Josh Lindblom of the Doosan Bears walks off the mound during the top of the seventh innning of Game 1 of the Korean Series against the SK Wyverns at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Nov. 4, 2018. (Yonhap)

Named after the late former star pitcher for the KBO’s Lotte Giants, the award was created in 2014 to recognize the best South Korean pitcher in the top professional league. Foreign pitchers were considered for the honor for the first time this year.

Lindblom, in his fourth KBO season and first with the Bears, led the league with a 2.88 ERA while going 15-4 in 26 starts. He also topped all pitchers with 21 quality starts and ranked seventh with 157 strikeouts. Behind Lindblom’s strong season, the Bears posted the best regular season record and advanced directly to the Korean Series.

Choi was a major star in the 1980s for his dominance on the mound and his humility off the field. Lindblom spent his first three KBO seasons with the Giants, and the fan favorite even earned the nickname Lin Dong-won for his ability to eat up innings, much like Choi did. Lindblom led the KBO with 210 innings pitched in 2015. He was the first pitcher to throw more than 200 innings in 19 years.

“When somebody brings up the nickname, there’s so much more to it than just going out and performing on the field,” Lindblom said after Game 4 of the Korean Series was rained out Thursday at SK Happy Dream Park in Incheon, just west of Seoul. “You see what (Choi) meant to the country of Korea, what he meant to Korean baseball. It’s not just about performance on the field. It’s about the things off the field — being a good teammate, being a good person in the community.”

Lindblom lost the opening game of the Korean Series against the SK Wyverns last Sunday. With the Bears trailing in the series 2-1, he will take another crack at SK later Friday in Game 5 at SK Happy Dream Park.

The ceremony for Choi Dong-won Award will be held at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11, a nod to Choi’s jersey number with the Giants, 11, in Choi’s hometown of Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

Josh Lindblom of the Doosan Bears throws a pitch against the SK Wyverns in Game 1 of the Korean Series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Nov. 4, 2018. (Yonhap)

Josh Lindblom of the Doosan Bears throws a pitch against the SK Wyverns in Game 1 of the Korean Series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Nov. 4, 2018. (Yonhap)

That would have coincided with Game 6 of the Korean Series, but after Game 4 was postponed by a day due to rain, Sunday is now a travel day.

Depending on Friday’s result, the Korean Series may be over by Saturday’s Game 5. Lindblom said he’d rather be playing for the championship than attend the ceremony.

“It’d be great to go to receive the award in person, but I know that we made an arrangement for my father to go,” Lindblom said. “Hopefully, I am still playing and can’t go.”

Even if the Bears rally to win their third title in four seasons, Lindblom may be hard pressed to match Choi’s feats in the 1984 Korean Series.

That year, Choi made five appearances in the seven-game set over a 10-day span and went 4-1 to help the Giants beat the Samsung Lions. Choi threw four complete games and made one relief appearance.

Choi remains the only pitcher in the KBO history to win four games in the Korean Series.

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