It’s an honor and a burden reserved for the ace. With a long history and a solid foundation, Japanese baseball has risen to the top of the world beyond Asia. In a game where all the focus is on winning, there is a tremendous amount of pressure behind every pitch from the starting pitcher.
Lee Yi-ri, 21, the KIA Tigers’ “next national ace,” made history in the 2023 APBC (Asian Professional Baseball Championship) Korea-Japan game. Lee pitched a six-inning, two-run quality start (at least six innings pitched and no more than three earned runs allowed). Ryu Jung-ilho took the loss in a 1-2 loss. However, with the QS, Lee became the first Korean pitcher in 15 years to throw a QS in a matchup between two national teams with professional players since Kim Kwang-hyun (6 innings, 1 run) against Japan in the semifinals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.굿모닝토토 주소
Ryu had said before the game that he wanted to keep Lee for as long as possible. He called Lee “the best left-handed pitcher in Korea,” but there was also a complex calculation behind his decision to conserve his bullpen as much as possible between the game against Chinese Taipei on the 18th and the final on the 19th. The question was how to solve Irihiro’s struggles with his pitches on the somewhat elevated mound at the Tokyo Dome.
Lee started the first inning with a walk, and back-to-back singles put runners on the corners. He narrowly escaped the jam, but in the third inning, a walk, hit-by-pitch, and a hit-by-pitch put runners on the corners again, resulting in his first run. In the fourth inning, he gave up a solo shot to Juhei Mannami, but did not give up any more runs to complete the QS.
Lee’s pitching against Japan was close. Just like in the KBO, he loaded the bases with a walk in the first inning and then induced a strikeout and a hit batter with his heavy fastball to close out the inning. However, he didn’t have the mound adjustment issues he was worried about. His pitches weren’t what you’d call “off,” and he seemed to settle down as the innings went on.
Lee made the Tokyo Olympic team in his rookie year. He pitched five innings in both of his starts, earning the title of “next-generation national ace. After a blister on his finger caused him to be cut from the final roster for the Hangzhou Asian Games last month, Lee once again lived up to the title of “next generation ace” at the APBC. If he can overcome his early struggles and control issues, he will be able to showcase a more complete game.
Two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Facing Mannami, who had been hit by a solo shot, Lee opted for a fastball in a full-count battle. In a battle of strength, he induced a grounder to complete the three-hit shutout inning. It was one of the best pitches of the day. It was another valuable experience for Lee, and a clear answer to the question of trusting his pitches and playing with grit.