“I’m going for a three-game winning streak!” says 22-year-old Smile Man on getting back to his best! [Interview].

“I’m getting ready to go out again today. We’ve been trusted, so we have to give back.”메이저놀이터

It’s August, and the season’s biggest game. The players may be even more intense than their manager in tightening their minds.

The Lotte Giants will play the second game of their weekend series against the KIA Tigers at Sajik Stadium in Busan on the 12th.

The Giants are coming off a 7-1 victory the day before, their second straight win. However, they are still four games behind the fifth-place Doosan Bears. With a win-loss margin of -4, they have a long way to go.

Choi Jun-yong has been involved in both wins. After pitching a scoreless eighth inning against the Gochuk Kiwoom Heroes on the 10th, he pitched a scoreless ninth inning against the Busan KIA on the 11th.

In six games in August, he pitched 6⅔ innings with a 1-0 record and a 1.35 ERA. He upped his fastball velocity up to 150km/h and his pitches were as balanced as they’ve been all year. He lowered his season ERA to 1.96. It’s been about a year and four months since April last year, when he recorded nine saves in a month.

The 2023 KBO League game between the Lotte Giants and the NC Dinos was held at Sajik Stadium in Busan on the 1st. Lotte’s Choi Jun-yong. Busan=Park Jae-man 기자pjm@sportschosun.com/2023.08.01/
“As for my ERA, I’m honestly very lucky these days,” Choi smiled when we met before the game.

The day before, Choi had come on in the seventh inning with Kia down by one run and pitched 1⅓ innings to help his team win. However, Choi gave up a walk to the first batter he faced after throwing six consecutive change-ups and a single to Kim Do-young to load the bases.

Park Chan-ho’s grounder to first base ended the game, but it was largely thanks to a great play by first baseman Jung Hoon. Jung made a diving catch and then threw back the other way to touch first base. Choi Jun-yong was seen asking him to concentrate, saying, “Quickly cover first base.

“(Son) Sung-bin said, ‘What do you want to throw?’ I said, ‘Changeup. Choi Won-jun hits the fastball well, and with me on the mound, I thought anyone would go for the fastball. I got a strike on the fastball with the changeup, but then the game got too long and I gave up a walk, so it got a little complicated.”

The 2023 KBO League game between the Lotte Giants and the KIA Tigers took place at KIA Champions Field in Gwangju on the 29th. Lotte’s Choi Jun-yong is in relief. Gwangju = Heo Sang-wook 기자wook@sportschosun.com/2023.07.29/
But he found his form in the eighth inning. With a 150km fastball, he turned KIA’s centre fielder Na Sung-beom and Choi Hyung-woo into a three-run double play. “I spent a lot of time with coach Kim Hyun-wook and got my pitching form right,” said Choi. Also, my seniors told me a lot of good things, which gave me confidence,” he said.

“I shadow pitch every day and pay attention to my centre movement. I’ve tried lowering my arm and slowly extending my extension, but at the end of the day, the key to my restraint and delivery is my centre of gravity and the timing of my effort. The extension itself is still the same at over 2m, but the pitching form itself has become a little faster, and I’m focusing more on keeping it behind me instead of rushing to throw it. The point is to make use of the vertical movement, which is my strength.”

The KIA-LOTTE game at Sajik Stadium in Busan on the 11th. Choi Jun-yong pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Busan=Jung Jae-geun cjg@sportschosun.com/2023.8.11/
After the game, Lotte manager Larry Sutton said, “Jun-yong Choi’s multi-inning performance saved the day. We won the game with one team,” he said. “Actually, I was a little shaky in the first inning, so I wanted to pitch one more inning, but I’m glad they asked me to pitch more. I’m getting ready to pitch again today.”

Depending on the game situation, he could pitch three consecutive games. Choi Jun-yong said, “It’s an important time. I told them I can pitch, so they can leave it to me. I’ll try to do better in the second half of the game,” he said.

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