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By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, May 5 (Yonhap) -- The LG Twins defeated the defending champions Doosan Bears 8-2 to start the 2020 regular season in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) on Tuesday, powered by the first home run of the season from their captain.
Kim Hyun-soo blasted his fourth career Opening Day home run for the Twins at Jamsil Stadium and drove in three runs, as the Twins got the better of their Seoul rivals. Kim's was the KBO's very first long ball of the new season.
It was one of five games played across the nation, as baseball officially returned following weeks of intrasquad and preseason games.
The regular season was initially slated to start on March 28, but the season was delayed due to the coronavius pandemic. South Korea has seen a steady decline in new cases, with no locally transmitted cases reported over the past two days.
The Twins opened the scoring in the bottom second, with Kim Min-sung's RBI double off starter Raul Alcantara cashing in Park Yong-taik, who came all the way from first after drawing a walk.
Kim Hyun-soo's two-run jack in the third, just clearing the fence in left, put the Twins ahead 3-0.
The Bears got a run back in the top fourth, with Kim Jae-hwan's towering homer to deep right field against starter Cha Woo-chan.
They wasted a one-on, two-out opportunity in the top seventh. After a walk and a single, Oh Jae-won grounded into a rally-killing, 6-4-3 double play.
Kim Hyun-soo delivered an insurance run with a double off the right-center wall in the bottom eighth, capping off his three-RBI day.
The Twins added four runs in the same eighth inning for good measure, two of them courtesy of two wild pitches by reliever Chae Ji-seon, and the last two on Yoo Kang-nam's two-run double.
Cha, starting ahead of two American aces Tyler Wilson and Casey Kelly, held the Bears to Kim's solo shot, while striking out seven and walking two.
Three LG relievers limited the Bears to a run -- from a sacrifice fly by Kim Jae-ho -- on three hits.
Wilson and Kelly will not be available for the opening three-game series. They were quarantined for 14 days in late March upon returning from the United States -- they had gone home after spring training due to the coronavirus outbreak here -- and they are still ramping back up for their usual regular season load.
Elsewhere, Warwick Saupold threw a complete game shutout as the Hanwha Eagles blanked the SK Wyverns 3-0 at SK Happy Dream Park in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul.
It was the official opener for the season and also the first game to finish. At two hours and six minutes, it was the fastest Opening Day game in league history.
Saupold became the first foreign starter to toss a shutout on a KBO Opening Day.
The Kiwoom Heroes beat up on the Kia Tigers 11-2 in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of the capital, and spoiled the KBO managerial debut for Matt Williams, the 2014 National League Manager of the Year and the only American skipper in the KBO this season.
The game at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field was halted for about 20 minutes during the bottom of the fourth after a fire broke out near the ballpark and black smoke reached the field.
Four different Kiwoom players drove in two runs each, with cleanup Park Byung-ho going 3-for-5 with a two-run home run in the eighth.
In the first game aired by ESPN to the American audience, the NC Dinos shut out the hosts Samsung Lions 4-0 behind three solo home runs at Daegu Samsung Lions Park in Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
NC designated hitter Na Sung-bum, a potential big leaguer represented by uber-agent Scott Boras, hit the first of three solo blasts in the fourth.
The Lotte Giants beat the KT Wiz 7-2, thanks to strong debuts by a couple of new foreign players.
Shortstop Dixon Machado came through with a go-ahead, three-run home run in the seventh, while starter Dan Straily held the Wiz to two runs on three hits in 5 2/3 innings at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, 45 kilometers south of Seoul.
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