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Choi Ji-man’s moment in Major League

Posted October. 05, 2020 07:44,   

Updated October. 05, 2020 07:44


The U.S. Major League Baseball passed the Wildcard Series, the first phase of the postseason, and entered the Division Series (requiring three wins of the five games to advance). The Tampa Bay Rays, Choi Ji-man’s team, beat Ryu Hyun-jin’s team Toronto Blue Jays by securing two wins and no loss in the series, and thus advanced to the American League Division Series. Tampa Bay will have a showdown with the New York Yankees, the team that has won most World Series titles (27 in total), at the Petco Park in San Diego from Tuesday.

Choi Ji-man is drawing attention as he has been especially strong against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole (30). Cole signed a nine-year contract worth 324 million U.S. dollars, the largest ever for a pitcher, with the Yankees ahead of this season. But Cole has been particularly weak when facing Choi Ji-man -- Choi has eight hits and eight runs from 12 times at bat overall vis-à-vis Cole. Choi garnered two of his three homers this season from Cole. MLB.COM predicted that Choi Ji-man will play a major role in his showdown with Cole in the first game of the series.

“Cole is a player with strong ego, and has tried head-to-head competition when dealing with me. As I also confidently face him, I have had good outcomes,” Choi said in a previous interview. Choi, who has mostly been deployed to deal with right-handed pitchers this season, played as substitute batter in two games of the Wildcard Series. However, since both of Yankees top pitchers Cole and Masahiro Tanaka (32) are right handed, Choi is expected to play a bigger role in the Division Series. Tampa Bay outperformed Yankees, both of which are in the American League Western Division, during the regular season by having eight wins and two losses.

Hong-Gu Kang windup@donga.com