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American lefty vs. S. Korean righty to duel in pivotal Game 3 of Korean Series

Nov. 9, 2023 - 09:49 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, Nov. 5. (Yonhap)

With the Korean Series against the LG Twins knotted at one game apiece, the KT Wiz will turn to their American ace Wes Benjamin trying to win their first home game in the best-of-seven set Friday.

The Twins will send homegrown right-hander Im Chan-kyu to the hill, as they look to steal a game on the road.

The Wiz won the opening game of the series 3-2 on Tuesday at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul. Then on the following day, the Wiz opened up a 4-0 lead after the first inning before the Twins rallied for a 5-4 victory that evened up the series.

The Korea Baseball Organization championship round now shifts to KT Wiz Park in Suwon, just south of Seoul, for the next two games on Friday and Saturday.

These will be the first-ever Korean Series games held at KT Wiz Park. The Wiz won the 2021 Korean Series by sweeping the Doosan Bears, but all four games were played at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul as the neutral venue, as the KBO sought to minimize traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Wiz couldn't have asked for a better pitcher than Benjamin as they pursue their first Korean Series win on home turf.

The left-hander dominated the Twins in five regular season starts this year, posting a 4-0 record and a 0.84 ERA. He struck out 30 and walked only three in 32 1/3 innings.

The Twins' top left-handed bats struggled against Benjamin. Leadoff Hong Chang-ki and No. 2 hitter Park Hae-min both went 2-for-16, as did No. 5 hitter Oh Ji-hwan.

"I've been really good against lefties just based upon my pitch arsenal that I've been using a lot this season," Benjamin told Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday. "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."

LG Twins starter Im Chan-kyu pitches against the Doosan Bears during a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul, Oct. 15. (Yonhap)

Im is coming off the best season of his career, as he was 14-3 with a 3.42 ERA in 30 appearances. He struggled against the Wiz, however, posting a 6.61 ERA and a 1-1 record across four games. He allowed 14 runs on 25 hits in 16 1/3 innings.

Four Wiz players on the Korean Series roster recorded at least three hits against Im, including leadoff man Kim Sang-su (4-for-7) and No. 2 hitter Hwang Jae-gyun (3-for-6).

The Twins will need Im to go as deep into the game as he can. In Game 2, starter Choi Won-tae couldn't get out of the first inning, recording just one out before giving up two walks and two hits. The Twins used seven relievers to cover the final 8 2/3 innings. Even after Thursday off, the Twins would prefer to keep their relievers fresh in Game 3 as they brace for what could be a long series. (Yonhap)