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Lee Dae-ho eyes home run title

Slugger Lee Dae-ho is playing in Japan like he wants to be a home run king his first season into the league.

The Orix Buffaloes “Big Boy” Lee looks like he is settling in Japan’s Pacific League, after a string of two-run home runs. Lee enjoyed a three-game homer streak before tiring out and finishing the game week with no hits in Wednesday’s contest. Still, Lee clings to second in his league with eight home runs, just one behind the Softbank Hawks’ slugger Wily Pena, and is tied for third in Central and Pacific Leagues combined.

This is the first time a Korean slugger has neared the top of the rankings in his first season across the East Sea.

Lee Dae-ho. (Yonhap News)

Lee Dae-ho. (Yonhap News)

The Samsung Lions’ veteran Lee Seung-yeop, one of Korea’s most highly regarded players, struggled to find his footing during his Japanese league season in 2004. The Japanese debut by the “Lion King” ended with a disappointing 14 home runs.

Hanwha Eagles’ Kim Tae-kyun, who enjoys an impressive batting average of .445 this season, ended his first Japanese season in 2010 with 21 homers.

But unlike his predecessors, Lee seems to have a quick eye in reading his new pitchers.

But it is also possible that Nippon Professional Baseball has yet to see Lee’s truly dominating command over the plate.

Lee typically warms up through the season before unleashing balls into the upper deck during the summer. In 2010 Lee was dubbed the home run king after finishing the season with 44 homers, 31 of them hit between June, July and August. It was under the hot sun that Lee also set the world record for the longest home run streak of nine games.

In Japan, players hitting more than 30 home runs are considered in the running for the season’s top home-run slugger. With 102 games left, Lee might be able to knock out at least 28 homers before the season closes.

By Robert Lee (

<관련 한글 기사>

이대호 또 쾅~! 홈런레이스 선두로!

'빅가이' 이대호(30•오릭스 버팔로스)의  홈런 포가 닷새 만에 재가동했다.

이대호는 27일 일본 요코하마 스타디움에서 벌어진 일본프로야구 교류전 요코하마 DeNA 베이스타스와의 교류전에서 2-1로 앞선 5회초 우월 2점 홈런을 터뜨렸다.

이로써 시즌 9호 홈런을 기록한 이대호는 퍼시픽리그 홈런레이스에서 윌리모 페냐(소프트뱅크)와 공동 1위가 됐다.

이대호는 1회 첫 타석에서 삼진으로 돌아섰고 3회에는 2루수 뜬공으로 아웃됐다.

그러나 오릭스가 2-1로 앞선 5회초 통렬한 홈런포를 쏘아올렸다.

2사 1루에서 타석에 나선 이대호는 볼카운트 2-2에서 요코하마의 선발투수 미우라 다이스케의 6구째 바깥쪽으로 깔리는 140㎞짜리 직구를 결대로 밀어쳐 우측 펜스를 훌쩍 넘겨 4-1로 점수 차를 벌렸다.

7회에는 포수 땅볼로 아웃됐다.

오릭스는 8회초 대거 5점을 뽑아 승부를 갈랐다.

이대호는 5번째 타석에 나설 기회가 있었지만 오카다 아키노부 감독은 대타로 교체해 쉬게 했다.

3경기 연속 안타를 치며 4타수 1안타를 기록한 이대호는 타율 0.264를 기록했다.

9-2로 승리한 오릭스는 3연승을 달렸다.