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Kang Jung-ho enjoys national stardom in Major League

Posted August. 11, 2015 00:16,   


The game that drew attention the most over the weekend was the showdown between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the LA Dodgers, and that between Toronto and the New York Yankees. Toronto and Yankees are competing to become the champion in the American League East. Toronto had two wins at away games in New York, and narrowed its gap versus the latter to two and half games.

The game between Pittsburgh and LA was effectively a playoff game that was performed in advance. U.S. media widely reported three consecutive games between the two teams. Pittsburgh, ranking second in the National League Central, is most likely to advance to the post season, unless something unexpected happens. Even if it fails to win the district championship, it will likely secure wild card without difficulties. LA, which possesses the strongest capacity in the Major League, is almost certain to win the title in its district. Hence, chances are high that the two teams will face off in the post season.

The weight of three consecutive games between the two teams was demonstrated through broadcasting as well. All three games were broadcast nationwide. The showdown on the first day between Clayton Kershaw, who allowed no runs in 37 consecutive innings, and Gerrit Cole, the pitcher with most wins (14 wins) was broadcast nationwide through a special program on ESPN. Kershaw’s strides ended due to a homer in the first inning. The game on Sunday (Korea time) was aired as "The Game of the Weekend” by FOX SPORTS1. The last of the three-game series on Monday will be aired on "Sunday Night," ESPN’s flagship baseball show. There were few cases in which all of Pittsburgh’s three consecutive games in the regular season were broadcast nationwide in recent years. Tickets for the games that are broadcast nationwide are also sold out.

As the games were broadcast nationwide, attention was focusing on Kang Jung-ho. Because most watchers gave generous compliments on Kang, it was almost like a "relay of compliments." Rick Monday, caster on KLAC, the broadcaster dedicated to the LA Dodgers, said that among rookie players in the National League this year, Kang is the second best in hitting fastballs after Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs, adding that Kang’s slugging ratio for fastballs stands at 0.636. He spoke highly of Kang’s ability to adapt himself to fastballs with speeds of 152 km per hour (85 miles) or faster.

FOX SPORTS1’s commentator Raul Orvananos said, “Pittsburgh’s recruitment of Kang is a huge success. The team seems to have recruited Kang as if it had predicted injuries its third baseman Josh Harrison and shortstop Jordy Mercer would suffer. Were it not for Kang, would Pittsburgh be able to maintain the current level of performance?” in complimenting Kang and the team’s general manager Neal Huntington.

On Saturday, Kang had one hit and two strikeouts from three times at bat in his first showdown with Kershaw, a three-time winner of the Cy Young Award. However, he had a finishing run when pinch hitter Pedro Álvarez Jr. had a finishing hit at the 10th inning, contributing to his team’s 5-4 win. On Sunday’s game, he also garnered a RBI by hitting a double grounder, with runners on the second and third base with one out, in the third inning when the game was tying 4-4. It was almost like a hit that passed through the center, but was caught through stellar defense by Dodgers’ second baseman Howard Kendrick. After Kang’s tiebreaking RBI, Pittsburgh scored sixth run through Neil Walker’s homer, and won the game 6-5, securing one point-gap victory for two consecutive games. Kang had three hits and one RBI from eight times at bat in two games against Dodgers, displaying batting performance living up to expectations.