Choi Ji-man of the Tampa Bay Rays has become the first South Korean with a hit in the World Series, while also helping his team's victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers with some heads-up baserunning.
Choi went 1-for-3 and scored twice as the Rays beat the Dodgers 6-4 in Game 2 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, on Wednesday (local time). The best-of-seven series is now even at 1-1, and the teams will be back at the same stadium for Game 3 at 7:08 p.m. Friday in Arlington, or 9:08 a.m. Saturday in South Korea.
Choi is the first South Korean position player to reach the World Series and made a small piece of history in South Korean baseball with his first hit and first runs scored on the big stage.
Choi was held out of the starting lineup in Game 1 against left-handed starter Clayton Kershaw. For Game 2, the first baseman was back in his familiar cleanup spot against right-handed opener Tony Gonsolin.
Choi came up with two outs in the top of the first, and the Rays leading 1-0 after Brandon Lowe's solo homer earlier in the inning. Choi struck out swinging, though, whiffing on a 94.1 mph fastball.
In the fourth inning, Choi faced left-handed reliever Victor Gonzalez with a runner on first and one out. Choi hit a groundball to second baseman Kike Hernandez for what could have been an inning-ending double play. Hernandez bobbled the ball instead and could only get the force out at second base.
Choi moved to second base on a follow-up single by Manuel Margot and then came around to score on Joey Wendle's two-run double that put the Rays ahead 3-0.
The Rays added a pair of runs in the fifth, but the Dodgers responded with two of their own in the bottom of the inning to make it a 5-2 game.
Choi led off the sixth inning with a single against reliever Joe Kelly. Choi then alertly took third base on Margot's single to left field, recognizing that left fielder Chris Taylor was shaded toward center and had to go a long way to grab the ball hit toward the line.
That smart baserunning paid off immediately, as Choi scored on Wendle's sacrifice fly to left field and put the Rays back up by 6-2.
Choi was lifted for pinch hitter Mike Brosseau with two outs in the top of the seventh inning. With a runner on first, Dodgers left-handed reliever Alex Wood intentionally walked right-handed Randy Arozarena to get to Choi. Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash countered by summoning right-handed Brosseau, who ended up striking out to end the inning.
The Dodgers fought back with a run in the sixth and the eighth, but the Rays' bullpen held its ground to preserve the win. (Yonhap)