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Park Chan-ho Blooms Again

Posted April. 14, 2005 23:31,   


“Not over quite yet.”

The Texas Rangers met the Anaheim Angels on April 14 at a Major League Baseball game held at Ameriquest Field in Arlington, Texas. As Park Chan-ho (32) handed over the mound in the seventh inning with two outs and a 6-3 lead for Texas, the home fans gave him a standing ovation. This was how impressive Park’s pitching was.

Park started the game and notched his first win of the season while allowing three runs on five hits. He gave out just a single base on balls and struck out six. His ball speed reached a high of 150 kmph. The Rangers, under Park’s lead, won the game, 7-5.

Park (1-0), the first Rangers pitcher to earn a win this season, lowered his ERA from 4.76 to 4.38.

The highlight of the game came in the second inning. Park, having retired the first three batters in the first, one of them with a strikeout, struck out the side in the second, which consisted of No.4 hitter Garret Anderson, No.5 hitter Steve Finley, and No.6 hitter Orlando Cabrera, the core of the Angels’ lineup. It had been two years since Park last accomplished three Ks in one inning since a start against Seattle on April 12, 2003, but it marked his first time he struck out three consecutive batters without allowing a hit or a walk.

Park allowed a homer to Angels No. 9 hitter Chone Figgins with 2 outs in the third, but the Rangers responded quickly with an RBI single by Rod Barajas to tie the game at one.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Michael Young hit a bases-clearing triple as the Rangers went on to score four during the inning, supporting Park’s win.

Park allowed two runs on three consecutive hits by Finley, Cabrera and Bengie Molina with one out in the seventh inning. He retired one more before leaving the field.

For Park, the win was all the more valuable as it was earned against the Angels’ batting lineup, his “natural foe.” Park recorded five losses and an average ERA of 8.80 in his last six starts against the Angels since 2003. The Angels included in their starting lineup six left-handed batters and an injured Vladimir Guerrero, who has a strong career batting average of .342 against Park. However, Guerrero went 0-for-3 until the sixth inning.

Park also changed his usual pitching style that usually focuses on fastballs, which register speeds of up to 160 kmph, and focused on locating the ball through diverse pitches. He frequently threw two-seam fastballs (or hard sinkers), sliders, and curves against the Angels.

“In the past, I used to throw the ball using 100 percent of my strength, but now, I only use 80 percent of it. I’m more concerned with the movement and control of the ball,” said Park. “Park Chan-ho did not try to go against batters with power. The change of speeds in his pitches was exquisite,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said.

Sung-Kyu Kim kimsk@donga.com