“I can feel myself getting better”, Park shakes off April disappointment and races towards autumn

Lotte Giants ‘glasses ace’ Park Se-woong has his smile back, along with his pitching. With his best pitching performance of the season, the Giants shook off their April disappointment and opened the door to victory.

Park started the sixth game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the NC Dinos at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan on 25 April and pitched seven innings of two-hit ball with one walk and eight strikeouts to lead Lotte to an 11-1 victory. It was his second consecutive victory after a no-hitter against the SSG Landers on 19 April.

Park literally “overpowered” the NC bats with his fastball, which touched 150kmph on the day, and a mix of curves, sliders, forkballs and other pitches. He was aggressive, not giving up a single four-pitcher until the top of the seventh inning when he reached 100 pitches.메이저사이트

In the top of the 6th inning, the only real threat, he got NC’s Park Gun-woo to ground into an infield single and did not allow a run to score. He shut down the NC offence in the first, second, fourth, and fifth innings with triple plays, and easily racked up outs throughout his time on the mound.

After the game, Park expressed his satisfaction, saying, “The team needed a win and it was an important start for me, so I’m glad it went well. I don’t know what else to say other than ‘good’,” and gave credit to his teammates, saying, “The batters gave me a lot of support early on, so I was able to throw comfortably, and my catcher, Lee Jung-geun, made it really easy for me to lead off.”

Park struggled from the start of the regular season last month, going 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA in five games until his last start against the KIA Tigers on the 2nd. He entered the 2023 season with expectations high after a stellar performance at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March, but got off to a rough start.

However, he is not a ‘spectacles ace’ who can be easily broken, and after surviving five innings of one-run baseball against the KT Wiz on the 12th, he has regained 100% of his form with two consecutive Quality Starts+ before today’s game. For now, Park himself says he’s at “70-80 per cent of where he was at his best.”

He attributes his rebound to aggressive pitching, according to manager Larry Sutton. Sutton cited a lack of “aggression” as one of the reasons for Park’s April struggles.

Park has been working on his pitches, which he says he used to overthink after two strikes, and as a result, he is finding it easier to get through the innings, which is the most important thing for him.

Park said, “The best thing today was the four pitches. I was most worried about the high strikeout rate at the beginning of this season compared to last year,” he said. “I told him to take the location and pitch mix based on the information root, pre-game curve and forkball, and it worked.”

“I’m never completely satisfied, but I pitched seven innings today, so I felt like I was getting a little bit better,” he said. “I wanted to take responsibility for the seventh inning, because if I go to the seventh inning, the bullpen only has to go two innings.”

With Park returning to form, Lotte has gained momentum in the race for the top spot in May. With a season record of 24 wins and 15 losses and a win-loss margin of +9, they are in third place, and their homegrown one-two punch of Na Kyun-ahn and Park Se-woong is a big reason why. After failing to advance to the autumn baseball for the past five years, the team is raising hopes for the postseason.

“For any team, if you keep winning games, the mood is bound to improve, and that’s the case for us,” Park said. “We need to make sure we get more wins when we can. We want to win a lot when we can,” he said.

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