“I always believe we have the power to go all the way to first place.”
Kim Do-young, 20, the present and future of the KIA Tigers, gazed upward with a twinkle in his eye after summoning a decade-old club record. The Tigers cruised to their ninth straight win with a 7-1 victory over the Doosan Bears in Jamsil on Saturday. It had been a decade and three months, or more precisely, 3730 days, in the making. KIA hadn’t surpassed that mark in a decade, having last won nine in a row on June 8, 2013, against Mokdong Nexen Heroes (now Kiwoom) and again on June 20 against Daejeon Hanwha Eagles.
In 2013, when KIA was on a nine-game winning streak. Kim Do-young was 10 years old. He was in the fourth grade of elementary school and was just learning to play baseball for fun. He had never watched a professional baseball game before, so he doesn’t remember Kia’s nine-game winning streak in 2013.
“I honestly don’t think I liked baseball back then,” Kim says. I started playing baseball in the fourth grade, but I didn’t watch much professional baseball then. I think I watched it in middle and high school,” he recalled 10 years ago.
Ten years later, the boy who didn’t like baseball has grown up to be a key player in KIA’s nine-game winning streak. Kim started the day at second base and batted third, going 2-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs. In the top of the fourth inning with a 3-0 lead, Kim hit a two-run shot to center field off Doosan starter Kwak Bin.
The home run was not a throwing error by Kwak Bin, but rather an intentional hit by Kim Do-young. That’s how hot he’s been hitting lately. On a 1-1 pitch, Kim took a 145 mph fastball high up in the zone and smashed it over the left field fence. It was a big two-run shot that traveled 130 meters.
Kim said, “I felt like (Kwak Bin) kept using his body against me. In the first at-bat, in the second at-bat, I felt like Yang Ji-san (Doosan catcher) was paying attention, so I (aimed) for it, and I think the timing was just right,” Kim reflected on the home run.
“I think it was the best hit. I went into the at-bat thinking the ball was going to come (toward me), and I think that’s why it hit me so well. I was pretty sure it was a home run. It was a perfect shot. It’s supposed to curve, but it stayed straight, so I just knew it was a home run.”
As for the nine-game winning streak, he said, “It’s a great honor. As a Kia fan, it’s an honor to win nine in a row in 10 years. I feel like I helped out by going out there, so I’ve been feeling good lately,” he said, smiling broadly.
Kim Do-young has been hotly touted as a super rookie since he graduated from Gwangju Dongseong High School and joined KIA as the first overall pick in 2022. He made a name for himself in high school as a shortstop with speed and contact ability, and was compared to “Son of the Wind” Lee Jong-beom (now coach of the LG Twins).
As a rookie, last year was essentially an adjustment period in the KBO. In 103 games, he batted .237 (224-for-53) with three home runs, 19 RBIs, and 13 stolen bases. It wasn’t quite enough to win Rookie of the Year, but a year of consistent first-team play taught him a little bit about how to survive and fulfill his potential at the professional level.
This year, Kim has stepped up and is proving why he was selected by KIA over Moon Dong-joo (20, Hanwha Eagles) last year. After missing the first half of the season with a fractured metatarsal in his left foot, Kim has been flying since his return. In 49 games this season, he is batting .310 (62-for-200) with four home runs, 27 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases, and has been a key contributor to KIA’s late-season push for a top-five finish.
During KIA’s nine-game winning streak, Kim Do-young’s bat has been even hotter. He’s batting .371 (13-for-35) with two home runs and seven RBIs, leading the offense alongside Choi Hyung-woo and Na Sung-beom. In that span, KIA has a team batting average of .336 and has been tearing up opposing mounds.
“I think it’s a cycle,” Kim said of his recent hitting, “and when it’s bad, I talk to the power analysis coach and the hitting coach, and I think I’ve shortened the slump period.”
He also emphasized that last year’s heartbreak laid the foundation for this year. “Around this time last year, I think I was adjusting a little bit (to the pros). This year, my record was different. By the end of the first half, I think I had a good idea of what to do at the plate. I haven’t gone through it all yet, but I think I’m playing better baseball this year because I thought I went through it last year,” he said honestly.
KIA is in fifth place with a record of 57 wins, 50 losses, and 2 ties after seven days. They remain 0.5 games behind the fourth-place NC Dinos and four games behind the sixth-place Doosan Bears. The KIA squad, riding a nine-game winning streak, will be looking up after the loss. It’s a long way from the top-ranked LG Twins (8.5 games), but not impossible considering Doosan’s miracle in 2019, when it broke the SK Wyverns’ (now SSG Landers’) 100 percent regular season title odds to win the overall title. “We don’t play baseball to be number one,” Na said, adding that the players will keep their eyes on the prize.메이저사이트
Kim agrees. “We just want to get to the top,” he said. We always believe that we have the power to reach the top. I want to go to the top, and I’m curious to see how far we can go,” he said, vowing to do his best to win as many games as possible in the remaining 35 games of the season.
KIA will now attempt to win 10 consecutive games. Their last 10-game winning streak came in 2009, when they won the overall title. It was a historic season for the franchise, which won its first title since its parent company changed from Haetae to KIA. KIA won 10 straight games from July 30 against the Sajik Lotte Giants to August 12 against the Gwangju Lotte Giants. Kia ended its 10-game winning streak against Doosan in Jamsil on the 7th, and with the good vibes of 2009, will they be able to look at the top like Kim Do-young’s wind and run further?