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Be it playoff beard or routine, Wiz ace Benjamin not changing anything

Nov. 8, 2023 - 09:36 By Yonhap
KT Wiz starter Wes Benjamin pitches against the NC Dinos during Game 5 of the second round in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Sunday. (Yonhap)

KT Wiz left-hander Wes Benjamin is about to pitch in the biggest game of his career in South Korea this week, but he says he won't change anything -- including his facial hair.

Benjamin last shaved after the Wiz dropped their second straight game against the NC Dinos in the previous Korea Baseball Organization postseason series on Oct. 31. Then the Wiz won three games in a row to take the best-of-five series and reach the Korean Series. Benjamin is now in full playoff beard mode.

"I don't grow a beard that fast, but we'll see," Benjamin told Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday, before the Wiz beat the LG Twins in Game 1 of the best-of-seven Korean Series at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul.

"Hopefully, by the end of the year here, it'll be pretty long," Benjamin added. "I'm undefeated with this beard. I'm not going to touch anything."

And the winning streak for the Wiz and Benjamin's beard reached four games later Tuesday, after they beat the Twins 3-2.

Benjamin is scheduled to start Game 3 on Friday at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, just south of Seoul. It will be his first career Korean Series start.

Depending on how Game 2 plays out Wednesday, Benjamin will either try to give the Wiz a 3-0 series stranglehold or put his club ahead by two games to one in the best-of-seven series.

Benjamin, who joined the Wiz in the middle of the 2022 season, said he likes to keep his routines the same, regardless of the situation.

"I'm not going to do too much different unless I have to," Benjamin said. "I'm going to try and keep things the way I need to because that's what I'm used to. (I want to) keep things as simple as possible to make sure everyone has an easier time, not just myself, but all the guys included."

Benjamin quickly added with a smile, "I'm not going to give away any of my secrets at all by any means."

"But I think I tend to pitch better when I treat every game the same," he continued. "It doesn't matter what time, the regular season or the Korean Series."

And if Benjamin pitches in Game 3 the same way he did against the Twins in the regular season, then the Twins will be in deep trouble.

Benjamin went 4-0 with a dazzling 0.84 ERA in five starts against the Twins. He held them to three earned runs on 19 hits, while striking out 30 and walking three in 32 1/3 innings.

"They have a lot of lefties. I've been really good against lefties just based upon my pitch arsenal that I've been using a lot this season," Benjamin said. "But to be honest, I couldn't tell you why I performed better against LG than any other team. Their swing paths are good a lot of days against me. Sometimes I've gotten lucky, and other times I've just made really good pitches.

"And I think knowing that they're a really good team has also helped heighten my ability to want to perform better too," Benjamin added.

In the buildup to the Korean Series, the focus has been mostly on the Twins' bid to end their 29-year title drought. But Benjamin said his team is no less desperate.

"After seeing all of our guys, I know how bad our guys want to win this one," he said. "And I think it'll be really difficult for anyone else to beat us." (Yonhap)