In this Getty Images photo, Kim Kwang-hyun of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the first inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Saturday. (Yonhap)
With his family watching him pitch in the majors in person for the first time, St. Louis Cardinals' South Korean starter Kim Kwang-hyun delivered an outstanding performance.
While twirling six shutout innings against the San Francisco Giants in a 3-1 win at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Saturday (local time), Kim had to keep his emotions in check.
"I tried not to get caught up in the thoughts of my family and just focus on the game at hand," Kim said in his postgame Zoom session. He has now won four straight games to improve to 5-5, with his ERA at 2.87.
"I've been on a roll of late, and I tried to stay composed and keep that momentum going," Kim added. "I am sorry to my family for saying this, but I thought more about hitters at the plate than them."
Kim's wife and two children, plus his mother and mother-in-law were in the stands. They were among 40,489 fans at Busch Stadium and drew hearty cheers from the Cardinals fans when the main scoreboard showed them with the message, "Welcome, Kim family."
"I think this was more meaningful to my children than myself, because they've never seen this many people at a baseball game before," Kim said. "In South Korea, we'll get about 30,000 fans in a packed stadium. We had over 40,000 here today."
Kim has extended his scoreless innings streak to 21. He said he's been able to keep his pitches, even his mistakes, low in the zone, and that has helped him induce a lot of weak contact. Even the hits that opposing batters are getting have been mostly soft singles.
But the real secret behind Kim's strong start in this game may have been home cooking.
"For the past three days, I've been dining on Korean food that my mother prepared, and it's given me so much energy," Kim said with a smile. "Before, I did most of the cooking or went out to grab Korean food. Now that I've been eating my mom's food, I realized whatever I was eating before wasn't really close to being Korean."
Kim also beat the Giants over seven shutout innings on July 5. He said the game plan he and catcher Yadier Molina devised was to stick to the similar pattern as the previous start for the first time through the order and then switch things up later.
"I missed the zone quite a bit early on, but the Giants' hitters were aggressive at the plate," Kim said. "I either threw a ball, or they hit into outs. That's why I didn't have a lot of strikeouts today."
Kim made 85 pitches and struck out just one, the opposing pitcher Anthony DeSclafani. (Yonhap)