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At 38, closer Lim Chang-yong eyes history

All Headlines 10:18 June 02, 2015

SEOUL, June 2 (Yonhap) -- Two days from his 39th birthday, Samsung Lions' closer Lim Chang-yong is eyeing history.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) veteran is currently leading the league with 13 saves. After struggling in April, Lim, a right-hander with a side-arm delivery, didn't allow any runs in nine appearances in May, while converting all seven of his save opportunities.

If he keeps it up, Lim will become the oldest pitcher to lead the KBO in saves. Four pitchers before him, including the Nexen Heroes' Son Seung-lak last year, have topped the league in saves at age 32.

The strong May lowered Lim's ERA to 3.26 in 19 1/3 innings. He has struck out 23 batters and walked only three.

Lim, who briefly pitched for the Chicago Cubs, blew two saves in April and opponents batted .268 against him. Last month, his opponents' batting average was just .172.

In that stretch, he also exorcised his old demons against the LG Twins.

The Twins remain the only club to score off Lim in 2015. On April 5, they tagged him for three hits and two runs in two-thirds of an inning. On April 28, Lim recorded just two outs while giving up five runs on four hits against the same club.

Lim faced the Twins twice more in May, and managed to keep them off the board while earning saves in two straight appearances.

The pitcher admitted he was "conscious" of the fact that the Twins had his number and said, "Getting saves against them lifted a huge burden off my chest."

Last year, his first in the KBO since 2007 after stints in Japan and the United States, Lim led the league with nine blown saves. He did finish second in the KBO with 31 saves, but had an unsightly 5.84 ERA and walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP) of 1.59, both of them the worst figures among pitchers with at least 10 saves. Also, opponents hit .282 against him.

He's off to a much better start in 2015, with a 0.98 WHIP, a 3.26 ERA and a .229 opponents' batting average.

"It's still early in the season, and we should wait until the end to evaluate my performance," Lim said. "My goal even before the start of this year was to lead the league in saves."

Lim has led the KBO in saves three times: in 1998, 1999 and 2004. He leads all active players with 212 career saves, and is fourth all-time.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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