Cardinals’ Kim Kwang-hyun walks tightrope for 1st MLB save

July 27, 2020

 He didn’t have a regular season save in 13 years in South Korea. And after one day in his first Major League Baseball (MLB) season, St. Louis Cardinals’ South Korean closer Kim Kwang-hyun has a save.

The left-hander walked the tightrope while giving up two runs in the ninth inning of a 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Friday (local time). This was the Cardinals’ first game of the 60-game regular season.

In this Associated Press photo, Kim Kwang-hyun of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the top of the ninth inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 24, 2020. (Yonhap)
In this Associated Press photo, Kim Kwang-hyun of the St. Louis Cardinals wipes off sweat during the top of the ninth inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 24, 2020. (Yonhap)

In this Associated Press photo, Kim Kwang-hyun of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the top of the ninth inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 24, 2020. (Yonhap)

Kim, named the closer near the end of summer camp, came in with a 5-2 lead, and cleanup Josh Bell greeted him with a hard grounder off the glove of third baseman Tommy Edman, recorded as an error.

Colin Moran then sent a double to deep right field. Jose Osuna then scored both Bell and Moran with a single up the middle, cutting the deficit to 5-4.

Kim got a mound visit, and retired Guillermo Heredia on a line out to right field on one pitch.

Kim finally snuffed out the rally by getting Jacob Stallings to ground into a 4-6-3 double play for a nervy save.

One of the two runs Kim gave up was unearned. He threw 14 of his 19 pitches for strikes.

Kim was an MVP-winning starter for the SK Wyverns in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) and battled for a rotation spot during spring training before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Once teams returned to camp, former All-Star starter Carlos Martinez, who saved 24 games last year, returned to his familiar place in the rotation, and Kim got an unfamiliar job as the closer.

Kim did record two postseason saves in South Korea, in Korean Series title-clinching games in 2010 and 2018.

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