Lotte Giants' new American starter Charlie Barnes won his South Korean baseball debut on Saturday, after outdueling a hard-throwing right-hander over five solid innings in Seoul.
The Giants rallied past the Kiwoom Heroes 7-2 as the 2022 Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) regular season began across the country, with Barnes holding the opponents to one run on six hits at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. He struck out seven and walked three.
Barnes left the game in the sixth inning with the Giants nursing a 2-1 lead. They gave him some breathing room by putting up a five-spot in the top eighth for a breezy win.
The left-hander had his slider working. Five of his seven strikeouts were of the swinging variety, and all five came via sliders.
Barnes and Kiwoom starter An Woo-jin traded zeroes for the first three innings, with An doing so in a more dominant style. The right-hander struck out the first two batters on six pitches, and needed only 21 pitches to retire the first six Lotte batters in order.
Barnes also recorded two strikeouts in the first inning but he also needed 27 pitches in that opening frame alone.
While An was pumping fastballs by hitters and touching 159 kilometers per hour (kph) with his heaters, Barnes mixed five different pitches effectively to keep Kiwoom bats at bay.
He pitched into trouble in the bottom of the fourth inning, walking Yasiel Puig to start the frame and allowing a two-out single to Lee Myung-gi to put two men aboard.
No. 8 hitter Lee Ji-young cashed in the game's first run with a single to center. Then rookie Park Chan-hyeok follwed up with a single to center, but it wasn't deep enough for the slow runner Lee Myung-gi to come home from second.
The bases were now loaded, but after a mound visit, Barnes struck out Lee Yong-kyu on a slider to douse the fire.
The Giants quickly erased that deficit thanks to Park Seung-wook's two-run double in the top fifth. Barnes let the lead stand with a scoreless bottom fifth.
The former big league lefty got the hook after walking Kim Ju-hyung to begin the sixth inning on his 102nd pitch of the game. He threw 62 strikes.
According to the pitch breakdowns, Barnes threw 42 four-seam fastballs, 22 sliders, 20 two-seam fastballs, 17 changeups and one curveball. His fastest pitch clocked at 148 kph.
The Giants batted around against new Kiwoom pitcher, Kim Seong-jin, in the top eighth, turning a slim 2-1 lead into a far more comfortable 7-1 advantage with four hits, two walks and an error.
The Giants opened the proceedings with two straight singles, and a one-out walk loaded the bases for Lee Dae-ho.
His swinging bunt trickled out to an area just in front of the plate, but speedy Park Seung-wook easily sprinted past catcher Lee Ji-young to avoid the tag and make it 3-1. The catcher then turned and fired the ball to first base, but his low throw pulled first baseman Park Chan-hyeok off the bag. With Park unable to catch the ball cleanly, another run scored for a 4-1 Giants lead.
Two batters later, Han Dong-hui drilled a double to deep right field for a 6-1 lead. No. 9 hitter Ji Si-wan joined the party with a single to right field to blow the game wide open.
The Heroes managed a run back in the bottom ninth.
An Woo-jin struck out seven in six innings in his first Opening Day start, while allowing two runs on five hits and two walks. His deadly mix of four-seam fastballs and sliders kept Lotte hitters off balance most of the game, but An made one mistake by hanging a slider on the inner part of the plate against Park for that go-ahead double in the fifth.
Park went 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a run, after striking out in his first two trips to the plate.
Source: Yonhap News Agency