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(LEAD) American left-hander shines on rainy day in postseason

All Headlines 18:30 October 16, 2016

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SEOUL, Oct. 16 (Yonhap) -- This has been a memorable postseason for starting pitchers in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), and the LG Twins' left-hander David Huff offered the latest gem on Sunday against the Nexen Heroes.

Huff held the Heroes to a single run over seven innings, as the Twins prevailed 4-1 to take a 2-1 series in the best-of-five first round showdown at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul.

Despite the constant drizzle and slippery mound, Huff earned his first postseason victory in his typically efficient fashion.

David Huff of the LG Twins smiles during the Korea Baseball Organization postseason game against the Nexen Heroes at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Oct. 16, 2016. (Yonhap)

Huff, a midseason acquisition, issued just nine walks in 74 2/3 regular season innings and had just one free pass on Sunday.

Huff allowed a single to the game's second hitter, Ko Jong-wook, but got a pop out and then picked off Ko to get out of the inning.

Huff's battery mate, Yoo Kang-nam, broke the scoreless tie with a two-run shot in the fourth, and the Twins gave Huff more support on defense.

Huff gave up a one-out double to Lee Taek-keun in the fifth, and Kim Ji-soo followed that up with a hit into the right-center gap.

Lee came home easily to cut Nexen's deficit to 2-1, but Kim got thrown out at second trying to stretch it to a double, with center fielder Kim Yong-eui making an accurate throw to the bag.

Nursing the slim one-run lead in the seventh, Huff allowed a leadoff double to Yoon Suk-min. A grounder moved the runner to third with one out, but Huff dug deep and retired the next two batters.

Lee Taek-keun popped out to first, and Kim Ji-soo struck out swinging after the count went to 3-0.

It was Huff's final out of the game, and the Twins added two more runs in the bottom half of that inning for insurance.

Huff was a savior for the Twins, who were only eighth at the All-Star break but climbed all the way to fourth to get into the postseason. He was 7-2 with a 3.13 ERA in 13 appearances, 11 of them starts, and went at least five innings in every start.

Huff said afterward the victory was a total team effort.

"It was a good team win, and it wasn't just me," he said. "Kang-nam did his part. He was unbelievable. Our defense did their part, and our offense stepped up today."

Huff threw 63 fastballs and 28 changeups in the win, while offering just seven cutters. He said with the Heroes' hitters having trouble against the two primary pitches, he didn't need to expand his repertoire.

"You want to stick to your strengths," he said. "They were having a hard time with the fastball and changeup, when I got it down. Occasionally, we threw a few cutters somewhere, but we didn't really need to."

He also thanked Yoo for his performance behind the plate, saying there's a "comfort level" between himself and the catcher.

"I was trying to stay relaxed and make pitches, and staying with Kang-nam on the same page," Huff said. "We've been going deep in the games. Obviously, something's working. I wouldn't change a thing, and just keep doing what we've been doing."

Huff's outing was only the latest in the string of quality starts in the postseason. Huff himself threw seven innings and allowed just two earned runs against the Kia Tigers in the first wild card game last Monday. He was the losing pitcher in the 4-2 Kia victory, because his counterpart, Hector Noesi, held the Twins to one earned run over seven innings.

On Tuesday, LG's Ryu Jae-kuk carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and tossed eight shutout innings. Yang Hyeon-jong of the Tigers nearly matched Ryu pitch for pitch, limiting the opponents to five hits over six scoreless frames. The Twins ended up winning 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth.

In the Twins' 7-0 win over the Heroes in Game 1 of the current series Thursday, Henry Sosa twirled six shutout innings. The Heroes tied the series with a 5-1 win in Game 2 Friday, as starter Andy Van Hekken held the Twins to a run over 7 2/3 innings.

Should the Twins reach the next playoff round against the NC Dinos, Huff could start Game 1 on Friday on four days' rest, or Game 2 on Saturday after five days off.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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