The two pitchers who ushered in a new era for the KT Wiz faced off as aces for the first time in four years, and it was a rare pitching matchup.
When the third-ranked KT Wiz took on the fifth-ranked Doosan Bears at Jamsil Stadium on Friday, it was the first meeting between the two former teammates. Doosan’s Raul Alcantara and KT’s William Cuevas.
They met and played as teammates at KT in 2019. As foreign pitchers in Lee Kang-cheol’s first year, Cuevas went 13-10 with a 3.62 ERA and Alcantara went 11-11 with a 4.01 ERA, combining for 23 wins and leading KT to its first five-win season.
They quickly parted ways. After the 2019 season, KT parted ways with Alcantara in favor of Odrisamer Despaigne, and Doosan brought him back. Alcantara was the top pitcher for Doosan in 2020, going 20-2, before leaving for the Hanshin Tigers of Nippon Professional Baseball in 2021.
Cuevas, who led KT to the title in 2021, was injured last year and returned this year as a substitute, and now the two will meet as KT and Doosan’s No. 1 starters. This is the first time the two have faced each other in the regular season, but they did meet in Game 3 of the 2020 playoffs. Cuevas pitched eight innings of three-hit (one home run), four walks, two strikeouts, and one earned run, while Alcantara pitched 7⅔ innings of seven hits, two walks, five strikeouts, and three earned runs, but Cuevas won.
It was expected to be a battle of egos, with no one wanting to lose, and it turned out to be a great pitcher’s duel.
Alcantara kept his former KT teammates in check. He retired 13 straight batters in the second inning after giving up a single to Alford in left, until giving up a double to Kim Min-hyuk in the top of the sixth.
Cuevas also pitched a dominant game. He retired all nine batters he faced through three innings. He ran into his first trouble in the bottom of the fourth. A leadoff bunt by Jeong Soo-Bin was misplayed, putting runners on first and third. However, Rojas induced the third baseman to ground out to the first baseman and tagged out Soo-bin, who ran home. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Kim In-tae was hit by a pitch for the second time, but he retired the next two batters to keep the scoreless streak alive.
Alcantara had his moments. In the top of the sixth inning, back-to-back singles to Kim Min-hyuk at first and Lee Ho-yeon at second put runners on first and third. However, when Hwang Jae-gyun batted third, he prevented KT from getting a double steal. On the third pitch of a 1B1S count, Lee Ho-yeon stole second, and when Doosan catcher Jang Seung-hyun tried to throw to second, Kim Min-hyuk raced home. But instead of throwing to second, Jang Seung-hyun looked toward third base, where Kim Min-hyuk had already run up the middle, and he was tagged out by third baseman Heo Kyung-min.
Alcantara gave up a single in the top of the seventh, but finished the job with a scoreless inning. In seven innings, he allowed four hits, walked four and struck out six. He threw 97 pitches.
Cuevas ran into trouble again in the bottom of the seventh, his final inning. Two batters later, he gave up back-to-back singles to Kim Jae-hwan in the fifth and Kim In-tae in the sixth. But he struck out Park Jun-young in the seventh on three pitches to end the inning. Seven innings, two hits, two walks and seven strikeouts.
The game ended in a no-decision, with both pitching seven scoreless innings. But Cuevas had the last laugh. In the top of the eighth inning, KT scored a run on Kim Min-hyuk’s RBI triple, giving Cuevas the win, and in the bottom of the eighth, Park Young-hyun and Kim Jae-yoon pitched a scoreless ninth inning for a 1-0 victory, giving Cuevas the win.안전놀이터
“It was a fun game to play against my best friend,” Cuevas said after the game, “I texted Alcantara after the game and said, ‘Good job, you threw really well. “After the game, I texted Alcantara and said, ‘Good job, you threw really well.’ It was an honor to play against him because he’s in such good form.