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By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Nov. 7 (Yonhap) -- Another game, another outstanding start by a left-hander for South Korea.
Kim Kwang-hyun tossed six shutout innings against Canada to help South Korea to a 3-1 win at the Premier12 tournament on Thursday at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul.
Kim struck out seven and walked two, and held Canada to a single.
Kim , a long-time ace and a former MVP in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), had a tough act to follow. Fellow lefty Yang Hyeon-jong, also a former KBO MVP, dominated Australia for six shutout innings on Wednesday, striking out 10 and giving up just one hit.
And Kim was up to the task and matched Yang's one-hit performance.
Kim struck out two batters in the bottom first to set the tone, and shook off an unexpected hitch in the next inning.
There was a 10-minute delay between the end of the top second and the start of the bottom second. Home plate umpire Jairo Mendoza was struck in the mask by a foul tip and had to be replaced by alternate Jose Del Puerto. Kim could have lost whatever juice he had flowing, but instead he went out and struck out the side in the second.
That gave Kim five strikeouts against the first six Canadian hitters.
Kim said he'd never seen anything like what transpired before the second inning but he tried to keep positive thoughts.
"I told myself that this was just like seeing our lineup having a long inning on offense," Kim said. "I was able to stay calm after that. I shook off some nervous energy after a first couple of pitches."
Kim issued his first walk with two outs in the third but nothing came out of it. Another walk followed in the fourth but Kim escaped unscathed.
His no-hitter bid was broken up by a Jordan Lennerton single that opened the fifth, but Kim got three easy outs for another scoreless inning on the board.
South Korea spotted Kim two runs in the top of the sixth inning, and Kim responded with a three-up, three-down bottom sixth.
Kim's night was done after that, with 77 pitches, 56 of them for strikes, in the books.
Kim threw four different pitches at Canadian hitters -- four-seam fastball, curve, slider and forkball. The aggressive one often established his fastball early in the count and got hitters to chase sliders outside the zone.
It was a strong showcase for Kim in front of several major league scouts in the stands. The 31-year-old may explore the open market in the big leagues for the second time. He was posted in 2014 and the San Diego Padres emerged from the silent auction as the highest bidder, but the two sides failed to come to an agreement.
Kim had attracted scouts to many of his KBO regular season starts this year, and he clearly helped himself on Thursday.
Kim gave credit to his batterymate Yang Eui-ji, calling him "the greatest catcher in this country."
"I trusted him 100 percent, and I think I shook him off maybe twice all night," Kim said. "I threw a lot of fastballs early in the game to set up breaking balls later on. Once the hitters started thinking I was going to throw a lot of fastballs, then I knew I could fool them with off-speed pitches."