Lee Jung-hoo (26, San Francisco Giants) missed the first Korean major leaguer record by just a few centimeters. It was such a disappointing hit that everyone felt it was a home run and jumped up.

Lee Jung-hoo started as the first batter and center fielder in the 2024 Major League Baseball (MLB) regular season home game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Oracle Park in San Francisco, California on the 22nd (Korea time), and recorded no hits and two walks (one walk, one body). His batting average for the season fell from 0.289 to 0.282, and his on-base percentage rose from 0.330 to 0.337.

Having failed to make a hit at four times at bat, Lee Jung-hoo’s streak of hits in consecutive Korean Major Leaguers games since the game against the San Diego Padres on the 8th stopped at 11. If he had played two more games, Choi Ji-man (New York Mets) in 2022, Choo Shin-soo (SSG Landers) in 2012 and 2015, and Kim Ha-sung (SSG Landers) in 2023, could have challenged Korean Major Leaguers for the longest period of consecutive hits. However, with 11 consecutive hits, he set a new record for consecutive Korean Major Leaguers’ debut season, surpassing the 10-game series recorded by Kang Jung-ho (then-Pittsburgh Pirates) in 2015 and Kim Hyun-soo (then-Baltimore Orioles) in 2016.

The most regrettable at-bat was in the bottom of the sixth inning when San Francisco was losing 2-3 at the batter’s box. Lee Jung-hoo hit Arizona starter Slade Seconi’s first four-seam fastball (91.9 miles per hour) to hit it well over the fence on the right side of Oracle Park. It was a huge hit that fell into McCoviman, which is located on the right side of Oracle Park. However, even when viewed with the naked eye, it was only a few centimeters short. Unfortunately, the hit was not recognized as a home run as it was heading towards the outside of the right foul pole.

If this hit came inside the pole, the record of consecutive hits could have continued following two consecutive home runs.

There is one more record that Lee missed. It was the Splash Hit that Lee himself wanted. The Splash Hit has been a rare record of only 102 since Oracle Park opened in 2000.

Conditions are tricky. Splash hits are recognized only when a San Francisco Giants player overcame McCoby’s strong headwinds and sent the ball directly into the sea. The home run recorded by an away player is not recognized as a splash hit, but a separate list is created and honored under the name “Other Home Runs into McCoby Cove.”

Among Korean major leaguers, Choi Hee-sup and Choo Shin-soo each succeeded once. Choi Hee-sup recorded the game against Kevin Correia on May 1, 2004 for the Florida Marlins (currently the Miami Marlins), and Choo Shin-soo against Jeff Samaza on August 3, 2020 for the Texas Rangers. Hwang Jae-gyun, who played for the San Francisco Giants in the past, failed to record the game.

Passing the ball over the fence itself is tricky. Including both home and away players, only 163 home runs met the minimum requirement for splash hits in 25 seasons. Oracle Park’s pole position on the right side is short at 94 meters, but the fence at 7.3 meters or more needs to be passed through the sea breeze, which is important both in terms of speed and flying distance. As it is difficult to push over the fence, there has never been a case where a right-handed batter missed the ball just by McCorvey.

It is also not recognized that he got hit by a sidewalk on the right side of Oracle Park and went into the sea. The home run hit by Dinner Span (retired) in the game against Cincinnati on May 13, 2017 also fell into the sea, but it was not recognized as his 73rd splash hit because it bounced off the sidewalk block.

That makes it difficult to record without power and sophisticated batting skills. Barry Bonds had the most splash hits with 35, followed by Brandon Belt with 10, and Pablo Sandoval with 8.

As the record was so difficult, Lee had been greedy to make splash when he joined the San Francisco Giants. “I used to play at Dome Stadium in Korea, and it’s nice to play on natural turf. I’m looking forward to seeing the most famous splashdown hit,” Lee said at the ceremony in December last year.

Local reporters in the U.S. were also interested in Lee’s splashdown hit. When Lee hit his first home run at Oracle Park on the previous day, local reporters asked, “How long will it take for a splashdown hit?” Lee replied with a shy smile.

Meanwhile, the showdown between Lee Jung-hoo and Merrill Kelly was also canceled. Initially, Arizona announced that it would start Kelly. Against Kelly, who played for the SK Wyverns (currently SSG Landers) from 2015 to 2018, Lee was very strong with a batting average of 0.467 (seven hits in 15 times at bat) and an on-base hit rate of 0.526 with a 0.600 slugging percentage. It is also true that Lee had high expectations for consecutive hits.

However, the showdown couldn’t happen as Kelly suffered shoulder pain while playing catch ball before taking the mound. According to the Major League’s official website MLB.com , magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed damage to his shoulder muscle. Eventually, Arizona replaced its starting pitcher with Slade Sekony for the second year.

Seconi showed the best performance despite his surprise start. Seconi continued his no-hitter streak until two outs in the fifth inning, silencing San Francisco’s lineup by allowing two hits (one homer) and three strikeouts and two runs off the right-handed ball in six innings, to end the game for the first time in this season. In contrast, San Francisco starter Jordan Hicks lost five innings with one hit and six walks (four walks, two strikeouts and two runs off the right-handed), and Eric Miller became the losing pitcher by allowing two strikeouts and two runs (one earned run) with two hits and no outs in one inning.

BY: 스포츠토토핫

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