During the five-game losing streak, the team as a whole was struggling, but not the duo, who stuck to their roles and eventually saved the team from the losing streak.
Hanwha defeated the Doosan Bears 6-1 in their 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League home game at Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon on Wednesday behind a six-inning, one-run performance from starter Moon Dong-ju (20) and a four-hit performance from Noh Si-hwan (23), including a leadoff home run.
Hanwha, which snapped a five-game losing streak, is still in eighth place but closed the gap to fifth-place Doosan to eight games and confirmed that it still has a shot at the fall baseball title.
Moon Dong-ju, a confident streak stopper, leads rookie of the year race
During the losing streak, even the trusted foreign pitchers collapsed, but Moon Dong-ju did his job. However, despite going at least five innings in three consecutive games, he was unable to get the win. On this day, he pitched a quality start (6+ innings, 3 earned runs or less) to help the team end the losing streak.
“When I saw (Kwak) Bin, I thought it wouldn’t be easy because he was facing my brother, but I pitched hard with the idea that I had to fight as much as possible,” said Moon Dong-ju, who met Kwak once again after the first day. “I think I got into the game more seriously because we scored in the first inning, and I’m grateful that (Noh) Si-hwan helped me so well.”
When asked about Kwak Binh’s assessment that Moon Dong-joo was a better pitcher than him, as they had faced each other once before, he said, “I don’t agree at all. I think he should learn from him, and I watched a lot of videos after the game, and there’s definitely a reason why he throws so well,” he said. “I felt like he was pitching well in the strike zone, but also outside the zone, and I didn’t feel like that. I think I did a little bit of that today,” he said.
Han was the first overall pick in last year’s draft, but his career has been plagued by injuries and poor form. He only pitched 28⅔ innings, which is why he was eligible for the Rookie of the Year award until this season.
This year has been much different. With a 7-7 record and a 3.28 ERA in 20 games, he’s fulfilling the role of homegrown ace. “Speed isn’t the most important thing, so I think how you fight with hitters is the most important thing,” Moon said. “I don’t think there’s been a huge change (from last year). But I think I’m getting the hang of it to some extent. I think I’m getting a little bit better at reading batters and battles.”
Moon, who has been a consistent starter in his second year and surpassed 100 innings (104⅓), said, “I just realized it. “It feels really good,” he said, “First of all, it’s good to see that I’m coming to the goal of 100 innings without any injuries.
He is considered the No. 1 rookie. “I hope Dong-ju gets the rookie of the year award, and I think she will. She’s doing so well,” he said, “I don’t think about it too much. I think it’s more important for the team to win, so I think I have to make sure that I create the situation for the team to win every game. I think I have to keep the score to a minimum, so I throw with a lot more focus,” he said in a mature and humble manner.
From home run king to MVP candidate, Noh sees more than just Kim Tae-gyun
After hitting .298 with six home runs and 14 RBIs in July, Noh was named the KBO’s monthly Most Valuable Player (MVP). August was even scarier. He hasn’t even turned the corner yet, but he’s hit six homers and driven in 13 runs. He’s just three away from 30 homers. He took the top spot in the home run race, widening the gap to six points over second-place Choi (21 SSG).
“It’s a good motivation,” Noh said of his July MVP award. I didn’t think I was that impactful in July. There were a lot of players who were better than me, and I was very grateful to be voted by the fans,” he said. “So I wanted to do better. I’m trying to live up to the expectations, and I think I’m able to keep the good momentum going by preparing for my matches.”
The fifth-year pro is having a career year. He has already surpassed his career-high of 18 home runs and is on track to reach the 30-homer plateau. “At first, I didn’t have any greed, but as I hit, I’m getting close to 30 home runs again, and I’m getting greedy,” Noh said. “I want to be the home run king, and I personally want to bring home a lot of titles and things like that because this is a really good season, but it doesn’t happen like I think, so I want to do what I’m doing now and not think about it.”
Choi Won-ho praised Noh’s performance this season, but said he still has a few more seasons to go to become one of the league’s top hitters. “I think body management is the most important thing. There are a lot of players who are good one year, but it’s very difficult to maintain it,” he said. “If you look at superstars, they have bad days every year, but they always find their place, and I think the best players are the ones who have such consistency. I’m having the best season of my career this year, but there’s next year and the year after that, so I think I need to be a steady player by taking care of my body and these things until the end of my baseball career.”메이저놀이터
He is also close to breaking Kim Tae-gyun’s record for most home runs (31), which he has long considered a role model. “I never thought about surpassing his record. He’s been at the top for so long. Of course, I want to catch up and surpass it,” he said, “but I think I’m still in the process of growing, and if I do it step by step, I think the day will come when I will surpass it. I’m in touch with her a lot, and she always says, ‘You’re going to do better than me. I’m still a long way off,” he said.
He’s also on pace to win the season MVP award. “I think Sihwan should and will win the MVP,” Moon Dong-joo said. “To be honest, I’m not even thinking about it. Of course, I have that dream, but I’m focusing on winning every game,” he said, adding, “It’s going to be a little difficult because there’s also the Asian Games, so I’m not going to talk about MVP.” He was cautious.
Both the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards have not been awarded since Ryu Hyun-jin in 2006. Just imagining Moon Dong-joo and Noh Si-hwan winning the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards at the same time is enough to fill fans’ stomachs.