Kim Ha-seong (28, San Diego)토스카지노 has been hitting at a peak as of late, erasing the label of “defensive player. After earning the team’s leadoff spot with his steady batting performance since mid-June, Kim has been on fire in the second half of the season, leading the league in on-base percentage.
In particular, he showed off his power by recording 15 consecutive games with two or more RBIs from 23 July (KST) against Detroit to 8 August against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He contributed to the team’s offence in a variety of ways, including his ability to produce runs with his sensible bat control and, most importantly, by harassing opposing pitchers with his persistence.
His streak of 15 consecutive games with at least two extra-base hits is the longest in the majors this season. The previous record was 10 games by Freddie Freeman (LA Dodgers), which Kim surpassed. He also surpassed Shin-soo Choo’s 10 games, the longest by a Korean, and tied Ichiro Suzuki’s 15 games for the Asian record. If he could get more than two hits against Seattle on the 9th, he would set a new Asian record.
On that day, however, Kim only managed a single in his final at-bat in the ninth inning. He finished 1-for-4 with a walk and three strikeouts. He continued his hitting streak to 14 games, but his streak of two or more hits in consecutive games ended at 15 games. Of course, this doesn’t mean much as it’s a streak that will eventually be broken. But there were some disappointments along the way.
In his first two at-bats, he struck out swinging. Logan Gilbert, Seattle’s starter for the day, had good command of his pitches, with a solid fastball and good drop on his changeup, including a splitter. Kim, who hasn’t struck out much lately, had to accept defeat in his first two at-bats. He wasn’t alone. Other San Diego batters were also struggling with the ‘scrappy’ Gilbert’s pitches.
But the third strike in the sixth inning was different. Trailing 0-1, Kim stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. Even though there were no runners on base, Kim could still get to second base with his feet, and the batters behind him were one-hit wonders like Fernando Tatis Jr, Juan Soto, and Manny Machado. Once I got on base, I didn’t know what would happen next.
Graphic of Kim’s strikeout in the sixth inning. The seventh pitch, which was called a strike, was a fair ball ⓒMLB.com Gameday Captures
Umpire Doug Eddings (right), who routinely clashes with players and managers over calls.
Kim Ha-soo seemed to be well aware of this and stayed focused. Faced with 2S, he chose two balls to make it 2B-2S. He fouled off a slider on the outside of the plate in the fifth and a fastball in the middle of the plate in the sixth. The timing wasn’t precise, but he hung in there and induced Gilbert to miss.
The San Diego broadcasters praised Kim’s persistence, saying, “If you’re a leadoff guy, you need to battle like that.” But the seventh pitch was unfair. At 2B-2S, Gilbert’s splitter fell toward Kim’s body. The broadcasters’ strike zone graphic and Major League Baseball’s official website, GameDay, both showed the ball outside the zone, but umpire Doug Eddings’ hand was raised too decisively. It was a strike.
The San Diego broadcast crew let out a collective “ahhh”. It was clearly not a strike, but the call was wrong. When Kim Ha-soo was called out, he immediately turned around and confronted the umpire. But the umpire didn’t even look at him, and Kim could only swallow his disappointment. If he continued to argue, he could have been ejected. The game was down by one run, and Kim couldn’t afford to leave.
It was the end of the inning, and the San Diego broadcasters didn’t have a lot of time to talk about the situation. However, they sided with Kim, saying that he was “rung up” and panicked.
If the ball had been ruled a ball, it could have been a double or a walk, which would have increased San Diego’s chances of winning the game. As a corollary, if you add in the ninth inning, there was a mathematical chance that Kim could have reached base at least twice in 16 consecutive games. But the call ruined everything.
Kim, who hasn’t struck out much lately, struck out three times on the day.
Juan Soto had his first career day with four strikeouts in a game.
This is the ninth time in his major league career that Kim has struck out three or more batters in a game. He did it once in 2021, twice in 2022, and six times this year. His previous three-strikeout game came on 4 July against the Los Angeles Angels, where he went 1-for-5 with a home run and three strikeouts.
Alongside Kim’s four strikeouts is Juan Soto, who is currently San Diego’s most visionary hitter. Soto, who has one of the best eyes in the league, struck out in all four of his at-bats on the day. It was the first time in his career that Soto had more than four strikeouts in a game. It was one of those days where you could argue that Gilbert’s stuff, and Seattle’s pitching in general, was good.