Choi hits the game-winning shot to end the team’s losing streak

Four batters in four days at home against MBL Cleveland

Making his fourth appearance in the starting line-up in four days, ‘Korean Big Leaguer’ Choi Ji-Man (Pittsburgh Pirates) hit a thrilling come-from-behind game-winning hit to lift his team out of a losing streak.

Choi Ji-Man hits a game-winning single against the Cleveland Cavaliers at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Tuesday. Yonhap
Choi Ji-Man started at first base in the No. 4 spot and went 1-for-3 with a double, two RBIs, a walk and a run scored against the Cleveland Cavaliers at PNC Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday. Choi’s return to the starting lineup came four days after his last start against the San Francisco Giants on the 16th. He was a late-game substitute on the 17th and 18th, and sat out the 19th.

Choi’s hit came in the clutch. Trailing 3-4 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Choi lined a sinking fastball up the middle off left-hander Sam Henges, the third pitch he faced, to 1B-1S for a single to right. The next two runners came home to cut the lead to 5-4. With one out, Santana stole third to give Pittsburgh another scoring opportunity.

Choi’s hit was even more significant because it came off a left-handed pitcher. The left-handed hitter has long shown a weakness against left-handed pitching. He often didn’t get a chance to play in games where the other team had a left-hander starting. Under extreme stress, Choi even tried to transform himself into a switch-hitter in 2020. He hasn’t fared well against left-handed pitchers this season, batting just 1-for-1, but on this day, he overcame his weaknesses to have a day to remember.

Pittsburgh snapped a five-game losing streak thanks to Choi’s performance. Choi’s two-run double forced Hedges out of the game, and the Pirates loaded the bases with two outs before a two-run single by Triolo made it 7-4. Cleveland got a run back in the eighth on Josh Bell’s solo shot, but Pittsburgh never trailed again. Choi saw his season batting average rise slightly from .173 to .182 (10-for-55). Choi, who shook off an Achilles injury to make his comeback against the Arizona Diamondbacks on 8 August, has hit .261 with two home runs and six RBIs in his last eight games.