Giants’ Lee Jung-hoo gets 1st hit at home; Padres’ Kim Ha-seong commits 2 errors

April 8, 2024

It took him three games, and the San Francisco Giants’ South Korean rookie Lee Jung-hoo finally has a hit at home.

From the leadoff spot, Lee batted 1-for-4 and scored a run as the Giants defeated the San Diego Padres 3-2 at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Sunday.

Lee led off the bottom of the first inning with a single to center against starter Matt Waldron. It snapped a 0-for-11 slide for Lee, whose previous hit had come against the Los Angeles Dodgers on the road Tuesday.

Lee had seen his batting average dip from .292 to .200 during his hitless skid. Lee did not have another hit Sunday, but his batting average rose slightly to .205.

For the Padres, South Korean shortstop Kim Ha-seong went 1-for-4 with an RBI to pick up his first hit of this three-game series in San Francisco. But the usually sure-handed fielder, who won the 2023 National League Gold Glove at the utility spot, committed two errors, the first time he has been charged with multiple errors in a game in his big league career.

The first of those errors came in the bottom of the sixth, with the Giants up 2-0. Kim fielded a routine grounder off Lee’s bat but airmailed his throw well over the head of first baseman Jake Cronenworth.

Lee advanced to second on a single by LaMonte Wade Jr. and then to third when Michael Conforto drew a walk. Lee then scored the Giants’ first run on a fielder’s choice grounder by Matt Chapman.

Kim atoned for his mistake on that play, as he grabbed the ball on a tricky short hop and made an off-balance throw to second for the force out in a close play.

But Kim’s next mistake, which came in the eighth inning, proved more costly.

The Giants still trailed 2-1 when they had runners at the corners with one out. Conforto hit a groundball right at Cronenworth, who stepped on the first base bag for the second out and threw to Kim in an attempt to complete the inning-ending double play.

However, the ball popped out of Kim’s glove when he tried to tag the shoulder of the runner, Jorge Soler, and trickled into center field. That allowed pinch runner Tyler Fitzgerald to score the tying run.

As the inning continued, Chapman knocked in the go-ahead run for the Giants with a single to right field.

All three Giants runs were unearned, as they came following Kim’s errors. Kim’s RBI gave the Padres a 2-0 lead in the sixth, but it went for naught.

“It felt good to get an RBI with a runner in scoring position, but I am disappointed to lose this game on my errors,” Kim said. “But we have more games coming up. I’ll just have to play better.”

Kim said the ball slipped out of his hand on the first error and insisted he wasn’t conscious of the fact that it was Lee running down the line.

“Some umpires don’t let us take a rosin bag on the field, and I think it was the case today,” Kim said.

As for the second miscue, Kim said, “I didn’t catch the ball cleanly, and the ball came out when I made contact with the runner.”

“You can make mistakes, but it’s frustrating to make two in the same game,” he added.

Lee said Kim, his former teammate in South Korea, will be just fine after his adventurous day on the field.

“He’s pretty strong mentally. I don’t think he’s going to get down on himself after those errors,” Lee said. “I have to go out there and prove myself, but he doesn’t have to do that. He’s human and we all make mistakes. It was just bad timing for him that his errors led to runs. But we have a lot of season left to play. Hopefully, we will both be playing well.”

Lee has had a couple of misplays himself that weren’t recorded as errors in this series. On Saturday, Lee lost a flyball in the sun in the first inning and let it drop in front of him for a base hit. The Padres later hit a grand slam in that inning for the game’s only four runs.

Then in the first inning Sunday, Lee crashed into the center field wall while attempting a leaping catch off a ball hit by Cronenworth. The ball hit the top of the fence and fell on the warning track for an RBI double.

“I thought it was going to be a home run. The ball traveled farther than I thought,” Lee said. “I still have to make adjustments. I think balls really carry well here. I could have caught it but didn’t get my timing right.”

After a quick start to his major league career, Lee is barely staying over the Mendoza Line now. But he denied he has any mechanical issues at the plate.

“Pitchers are throwing to good spots, but if I keep swinging the bat the way I have been, I think I will get my hits,” Lee said. “I have not been striking out that often. So I will keep trying to make good contact.”

The Giants took two out of three at home against the Padres.

These two National League West rivals have already played seven times this season. They split their four-game series during the final week of March in San Diego.

Their next meeting will be in September in San Diego.