‘Thor’ shakes the foot… Bae Ji-hwan’s breakthrough is, of course, ‘foot’

Bae Ji-hwan먹튀검증 (23, Pittsburgh Pirates), who was in a slump, defeated ‘Thor’ Noah Syndergaard (31, LA Dodgers) with impressive play. In the end, his secret weapon, his fast feet, shone.

Bae Ji-hwan started as the 8th hitter and center fielder in the 2023 MLB Dodgers home game held at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA on the 26th (Korean time) and played an active role with 2 hits, 2 steals and 2 points in 4 at-bats. It was the second time this season that he had multiple hits.

Bae Ji-hwan’s batting average, which was only 0.206 before the game, rose to 0.224 (15 hits in 67 at-bats). Bae Ji-hwan, who was active in the early stages after the opening, was sluggish for a while. It wasn’t easy for him to get over the big leagues. Bae Ji-hwan’s rise to the big leagues was due to his multi-position digestion and quick feet. Bae Ji-hwan was able to play all positions except first baseman and catcher, and also possesses top-notch base running ability, receiving 70 points out of 80 as a prospect. According to Baseball Savant, he recorded 29.2 seconds per second this season, ranking 15th overall in MLB. However, his multi-position ability and quick feet were less meaningful if he could not step on first base.

He did hit, but it wasn’t all cool batting. Instead, it was an infield hit that shook the opponent’s defense. Bae Ji-hwan recorded his first hit after one out in the bottom of the second inning with the team trailing 1-2. When Dodgers starter Syndergaard threw a cutter (cut fastball) that was driven in the middle on a ball count of 2 balls and 2 strikes, he attacked it and turned it into an in-play batted ball. Dodgers second baseman Miguel Vargas threw to first base after a sliding catch, but Bae Ji-hwan’s foot stepped on first base first.

Of course, Bae Ji-hwan’s feet weren’t fast only when he stepped on first base. He immediately widened his lead after reaching first base, stole second base, and stepped on home when Kibrian Hayes’ timely hit led the team to a tie.

At the end of the 4th inning, the team’s batting line became the fuse that exploded. In the first-out situation, he attacked Syndergaard’s curve and hit a ground ball to first base. Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman caught it with difficulty and threw it, but Bae Ji-hwan was quicker than pitcher Syndergaard, who came on base cover, and it became an infield hit, not a ground ball.

Bae Ji-hwan was not satisfied at first base this time either. He stole second base right away at the first pitch, and added a run when a follow-up hitter, Austin Hedges, pushed through. Returning to bat at the end of the 5th and 8th innings, he finished the game with a strikeout and a ground ball in front of the pitcher.

Despite Bae Ji-hwan’s performance, Pittsburgh hit a home run and lost. Pittsburgh, leading 7-5, hit a 3-run home run by Chris Taylor of the Dodgers in the early 8th inning crisis with one out and 1st and 2nd base, and lost 7-8. The 7-game winning streak from the 18th was cut off in the first game of the series against the Dodgers.

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