(ATTN: UPDATES with final score; ADDS details)
By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Oct. 1 (Yonhap) -- The St. Louis Cardinals South Korean starter Kim Kwang-hyun has taken a no-decision in his postseason debut following an up-and-down outing.
Kim gave up three earned runs on five hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings against the San Diego Padres in Game 1 of the National League (NL) wild-card series at Petco Park in San Diego on Wednesday (local time). He was pulled with two outs in the fourth inning and a man aboard, with the Cardinals holding a 6-3 lead. They went on to win 7-4.
Kim made 76 pitches, 44 of them for strikes. He struck out two batters.
This is a best-of-three series with no off days. Game 2 will be back at Petco Park on Thursday.
Kim, a big league rookie after 13 years in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), was a surprise Game 1 starter, chosen over established pitchers Adam Wainwright and Jack Flaherty. Kim did have a strong regular season in his own right, with a 3-0 record and a 1.62 ERA in eight appearances, including seven starts. Plus, Kim had his share of big game experience, having won four Korean Series titles with the SK Wyverns and having pitched in the Olympics and World Baseball Classic games.
The Cardinals spotted Kim a 4-0 lead before he even threw a pitch. Paul Goldschmidt blasted a two-run home run as part of the five-hit first inning.
But Kim gave a run back right away in the bottom first. He walked the leadoff man Fernando Tatis Jr., and a follow-up single by Manny Machado put runners at the corners for Eric Hosmer, who hit a sacrifice fly to right field to make it a 4-1 game.
In the second inning, Jake Cronenworth led things off with a triple off the top of the center field wall. Austin Nola brought him home with the Padres' second sacrifice fly of the game that cut the deficit to 4-2.
The Cardinals added a pair of runs in the top of the third, chasing San Diego starter Chris Paddack from the game as well, but Kim pitched into more trouble himself in the bottom third.
Tatis Jr. opened that frame with a single -- the third straight inning in which a leadoff man reached for the Padres. Kim managed to retire the next two batters but then Wil Myers singled to put runners at the corners, and Tommy Pham's single scored Tatis Jr. and brought the Padres to within 6-3.
Kim struck out Nola and retired Jurickson Profar on a groundout in the fourth. One out away from his first clean inning, Kim walked No. 9 hitter Trent Grisham after a seven-pitch battle.
With Tatis Jr. due up and the Rays about to see Kim for the third time, the Cardinals weren't taking any chances. Helsley took over and retired Tatis Jr. on a deep fly to right to snuff out a potential rally.
It was Kim's first meeting against the Padres. The left-hander had some personal history with the NL West club. After the 2014 season, Kim was posted by his KBO club, the SK Wyverns, with interested big league teams submitting bids in a silent auction for the exclusive right to negotiate with Kim.
The Padres won the bid with US$2 million, but the team and Kim couldn't agree to terms. They apparently offered him a two-year deal worth $2 million but Kim turned it down and stayed in the KBO for five more years.
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