1 inning left until the no-hitter… Moon Dong-ju “Isn’t it a shame?”

Hanwha Eagles right-hander Moon Dong-ju set a new career high in his debut.

Moon tossed eight innings of two-hit ball with seven strikeouts and no walks against the NC Dinos of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Changwon NC Park on Thursday. Led by Moon’s strong outing, Hanwha cruised to a 7-1 victory over NC and its first four-game winning streak in 1003 days since Sept. 24, 2020. At the time, Hanwha had won five straight from Sept. 20-25.메이저사이트

Moon had previously thrown 87 pitches in a seven-inning no-hitter against Kiwoom on Sept. 1, marking his first career high-quality start (seven or more innings and two earned runs or less). After throwing the first seven innings of his debut to build confidence in his ability to digest long innings, Moon pushed his pitching ceiling to the eighth inning.

However, he fell just one inning short of his first career complete game. If Moon had finished the game in the ninth inning without allowing a hit or a walk, he would have not only earned his first career complete game, but also become the first KBO player since Ko Young-pyo in June of last year to complete a four-hit shutout (138 total), but Moon came down after the eighth inning and hugged and greeted the coaches and players before leaving the game.

Hanwha scored four runs in the top of the first inning to give Moon a seven-run lead. This was a rare opportunity for Moon to relax and try his hand at a complete game, as NC practically raised a white flag by pulling their starters early on. His aggressive pitching worked well from the beginning, and he only needed 90 pitches until the eighth inning.

However, it seems that Hanwha made the change to manage Moon’s innings and to rotate him in when he needed it. This is because no matter how few pitches he throws, the longer he has to cool his shoulders and throw again when the team attacks, the higher his fatigue level will be, and if he breaks a no-hitter or a four-hitter in the ninth inning, it will be a big disappointment even if he wins.

When I asked Moon Dong-ju after the game if he was disappointed with the no-hitter, he said with a wistful expression, “I didn’t feel greedy because I have another chance, and the manager and coach made the decision with me in mind.” When asked, “Didn’t you say you wanted to throw more?” he smiled, “After the eighth inning, they said ‘good job,’ so I just said ‘thank you’ and finished.

Moon seemed to get more out of the game than he lost. “Pitching aggressively was the only plan today, and it worked out as I wanted it to. (Choi) Jae-hoon knows me well, so I trusted him completely. My pitching was almost as good as I wanted it to be, so I gained confidence.”

True to his word, only three of the 26 batters he faced that day needed more than five pitches to win. Moon set the tempo of the game in his favor against the NC batters, using a fastball up to 158 km/h, a slider around 145 km/h and a curveball in the low 120 km/h in the strike zone at will.

It was a far cry from his previous outing against Kiwoom on the 18th. In that game, Moon threw 94 pitches in four innings and gave up two runs. He was unable to go the distance, throwing over 20 pitches per inning. Before the 24th game, Hanwha coach Choi Won-ho praised Moon, saying, “Even though he threw a lot of pitches, he did a good job of not falling apart early on and changing his pattern to keep the runs to a minimum.”

“My last pitch didn’t go the way I wanted it to, but I tried not to let myself fall apart, and it helped me because I think I have a lot to learn from my bad days,” Moon said. For Moon, both the no-hitter in the eighth inning and the two runs in the fourth inning are “reference books” that he needs for his next pitch.

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