“I thought we could win if we scored first.”

San Diego Padres’ Ha-Sung Kim, 28, led off the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 18 with a bunt single. In a 0-0 pitcher’s duel, he bunted to third base on Zach Eflin’s first pitch to open up the offense.

Kim was followed by Trent Grisham, who laid down an exquisite bunt that sailed just over the pitcher’s head. With runners on first and second, Fernando Tatis Jr. bunted on the first pitch. A sacrifice bunt to the pitcher put runners on second and third, and San Diego scored two runs on Juan Soto’s sacrifice fly and Manny Machado’s infield single to third. The fifth inning set the stage for a 2-0 victory.

Speaking to local media, including ‘MLB.com,’ Kim said, “I thought starting pitcher Blake Snell (31) pitched really well. Watching him from behind, his command was amazing, and he showed why he’s a Cy Young winner. I thought we had a chance to win if we scored first.” With Snell throwing such a good ball, they knew they had a better chance of winning if they scored first.토토사이트

Kim was right. Snell dominated his hometown team, Tampa Bay, with six innings of two-hit ball, three walks, one hitter, and 12 strikeouts. He threw 46 four-seam fastballs, topping out at 98.2 mph (158.0 km/h) and averaging 96.4 mph (155.1 km/h), with an even mix of changeups (22), curves (21), and sliders (13). All four pitches worked well, as he induced a whopping 23 swings and misses.

It was a pitch reminiscent of his prime. Snell, a left-handed fireballer selected by Tampa Bay with the 52nd overall pick in the first round of the 2011 draft, emerged as a mainstay starter after making his big league debut in 2016, most notably in 2018 when he went 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA and 221 strikeouts in 31 games (180⅔ innings), leading the American League (AL) in wins and ERA and winning the Cy Young Award.

[OSEN=Correspondent] Blake Snell during his time in Tampa Bay. /dreamer@osen.co.kr

[OSEN=San Diego, CA, USA] San Diego’s Ha-Sung Kim and starting pitcher Blake Snell greet each other. 2022.06.13 / dreamer@osen.co.kr

[OSEN=San Diego (California, USA), Kyuhan Choi] San Diego’s Ha-Sung Kim and starting pitcher Blake Snell exchange greetings. 2022.06.13 / dreamer@osen.co.kr

The following year, however, he became a mediocre pitcher. After being traded to San Diego in 2021, he fell short of expectations as he struggled with his pitches. This year, his third year in the organization, he struggled again, going 1-6 with a 5.40 ERA in the first nine games of the season. He is set to become a free agent this year after signing a five-year, $50 million extension, and his value has been declining.

However, he has rebounded with two wins in his last five starts, lowering his ERA to 0.60. His stuff has been strong with 45 strikeouts in 30 innings, including 12 strikeouts in his last two starts. In the meantime, he has lowered his season ERA to 3.48.

In four games with offensive catcher Gary Sanchez, who joined the team late last month, they’ve combined for a 0.36 ERA in 25 innings. At this rate, he could be in line for a big free-agent deal. Snell said, “I’ve been saying I’ve been feeling good. I like where I’m at, and I’m going to keep pushing forward.”

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