Efficient Kim Kwang-hyun earns victory over MLB’s top giants

As he wrapped up a rewarding day on the mound, St. Louis Cardinals starter Kim Kwang-hyun flashed his signature smile.

The South Korean southpaw is expressive on the pitch, with his aw-shucks smiles often accompanying his performances. Against the major league-leading San Francisco Giants on the road Monday (local time), Kim had plenty to smile about.

He twirled seven shutout innings, giving up just three singles on just 89 pitches in a 5-3 win at Oracle Park in San Francisco. Thanks to his first scoreless start of 2021, Kim moved to 3-5 with a 3.39 ERA.

Kim’s best start of 2021 came against the top big team. The Giants, despite the loss, still hold baseball’s best record at 53-31.

Kim has now earned back-to-back starts for the first time in his major league career, which began in 2020.

“I pitched well last year and was confident this year,” said Kim, who was a perfect 3-0 with a 1.62 ERA last year. “But I hurt my back during spring training, and I was struggling after I came back. It hasn’t been an easy season.”

Kim made 10 starts between her first win and her second win of the year. And the third win came just five days after his previous W, helping Kim regain his confidence.

“From now on, I will try again to throw with confidence and be the best version of myself,” Kim said. “I’m not going to rush anything and I’ll try to enjoy the rest of the season.”

The Cardinals were leading 2-0 when Kim was called out for pinch hitter Tyler O’Neill with an out in the eighth. The Cardinals made those runs in seventh overall after being held no-hitter by San Francisco starter Kevin Gausman albeit 6 1/3 frames.

“I was especially happy that we scored in the first seventh,” Kim said of the smile he had as he left the mound in the last seventh.

Kim had a scary moment in the bottom quarter, when he appeared to twist his back after his pick got stuck in the ground during the delivery. Manager Mike Shildt, pitching coach Mike Maddux and a team coach all visited Kim on the mound. The southpaw threw a few warm-up shots and stayed in the game.

“I’ve had something like this once or twice in bullpen sessions, but never in a real game,” Kim said. “I almost fell off the mound. I wasn’t hurt, but I was just surprised. I needed to regain my composure.”

And that’s exactly what he did for three more rounds for the confidence-boosting win. (Yonhap)

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