The NC Dinos may boast some of the most feared sluggers in the Korea Baseball Organization, but the Doosan Bears right-hander Michael Bowden thinks they're still "beatable" with good execution of pitches.
The two clubs are going toe-to-toe in the Korean Series, the KBO's championship final. The Bears claimed the opener 1-0 in 11 innings at their home, Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. And Bowden, in his first KBO season, is slated to start Tuesday's Game 3 on the road at Masan Stadium in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, some 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
The pitcher had the Dinos' number in the regular season. He threw a complete game shutout against them at Jamsil in June, which followed an April start in which he held the Dinos scoreless in eight innings.
He did take a loss in July at Masan, after giving up three earned runs in six innings.
More importantly, Bowden held the Dinos' big bats without a long ball. Eric Thames, a 40-homer slugger, was 1-for-5 with three strikeouts against Bowden. Na Sung-bum, who had 22 home runs and 113 RBIs, was 0-for-8 with four strikeouts.
"They definitely have a very good offense," Bowden told Yonhap News Agency on Saturday, hours before Game 1. "I think if you execute your pitches, they're beatable. I am definitely looking forward to pitching."
But as much as he is looking forward to nail-biting duels with opposing hitters, Bowden said he can't wait to experience his first KBO postseason.
"The atmosphere at the games and the fans... that's what I am really looking forward to," Bowden said. "It's going to be a lot of fun. I think we have a great chance of winning (the title)."
Bowden's confidence is well-justified. The Bears are the defending champions, and they ran away with the pennant this year with 93 wins, 50 losses and one tie, setting the KBO single-season record for victories.
Bowden, 30, formed the KBO's deepest starting rotation. The Bears became the first team with four 15-game winners, and in his first KBO season, Bowden went 18-7 in 30 appearances with a 3.80 ERA. He ranked second in victories behind his teammate Dustin Nippert's 22 and sixth in ERA.
"I've had a great experience here, and my teammates and coaches have been very welcoming," said Bowden, who previously pitched for the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs. "We've been playing well all season. I think we deserve to be here."
By virtue of taking the pennant, the Bears got the bye to the Korean Series and had to wait for the conclusion of earlier postseason rounds to see who their opponent would be.
Game 1 on Saturday was the Bears' first game since their regular season finale on Oct. 8.
"In the baseball world, that seems like an eternity," Bowden said of the extended break. "I just tried to maintain my routine to the best of my ability, which was difficult because we didn't have that many games to play. I feel very confident with where I am at right now." (Yonhap)