At the crucial moment, Choi Ji-Man (32, San Diego Padres)’s bat shined. It wasn’t the hit he’d been waiting for, but it was a sacrifice fly that would have been a home run.
San Diego won its 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) home game against the Colorado Rockies, 3-2, at Petco Park in San Diego, California, USA, on April 21.
The win extends the Padres’ winning streak to seven games. The Padres, who hadn’t won more than four in a row prior to the win, are now 75-78 (.490 winning percentage) on the season. If the team keeps up the momentum, it will reach the five-win mark for the first time since May 12.
Two Koreans, Choi Ji-Man and Kim Ha-Sung (28), were left out of the starting lineup. Choi was removed from the lineup with Manny Machado hitting designated hitter and Garrett Cooper at first base. Kim, who has been dealing with an unexplained abdominal pain, also did not return to the lineup after only practicing today.
The game started with the Rockies taking an early lead. Brandon Rogers led off the first inning with a solo shot, and Ezequiel Toba followed with a single to put runners on first and third. San Diego answered in the bottom of the inning, however, as leadoff hitter Xander Bogaerts singled, stole second and reached third on a throwing error. From there, Juan Soto’s grounder to the second baseman allowed Bogart to cross home plate and cut the deficit to one run.
From there, the game went into a lull, especially after San Diego blew back-to-back chances to tie the game with runners on second and third in the third and first with nobody out in the fourth. In fact, after starter Seth Lugo went down, the defense put runners on second and third in the top of the seventh inning before escaping in dramatic fashion.
But San Diego put the game out of reach in the bottom of the seventh. After a Soto walk, back-to-back infield singles by Cooper and Matthew Batten loaded the bases. Luis Camposano then lined a single to right field that dropped in front of the right fielder, bringing home the runner from third. The score was tied at 2-2.
Choi, who had been benched for the entire game, came up to bat. Pinch-hitting for Jose Asoka in the eighth inning, Choi took a two-pitch sinker from Colorado pitcher Justin Lawrence. The ball stretched toward center field and looked like it would be a home run, but the center fielder made the catch on the walking track. However, pinch-hitter Trent Grisham scored from third base to give San Diego its first lead of the game.
Choi then moved to first base and played the rest of the game. San Diego was threatened in the top of the ninth when closer Josh Hader was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, but the team retired the next three batters to preserve the win.
Choi has not recorded a hit since being acquired by San Diego on Aug. 2. Prior to this game, he hadn’t gotten a hit in nine games and 23 at-bats in a San Diego uniform. He drew seven walks, but that was it. He hasn’t shown any signs of the momentum he had in July with Pittsburgh, hitting .268 with a .930 OPS.안전놀이터
Add to that the injury bug. He had already missed nearly three months with an Achilles’ tendon injury in Pittsburgh, and even after changing teams, he suffered a left rib injury on June 12. Choi’s health hasn’t been great this season, as he suffered a foot contusion during a minor league rehabilitation game.
However, in the previous game on the 20th, he batted fifth and played first base, recording a walk and a hit by pitch. He didn’t do anything spectacular, but he did his part to keep the team in the game. On the 21st, he produced a big hit to give the team hope.