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Little-used outfielder goes from goat to hero in dramatic win

Shin Min-jae of the LG Twins (right) celebrates his game-winning hit against the Kiwoom Heroes after a 5-4 victory in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on Tuesday in this photo provided by the Twins. (Yonhap)
Shin Min-jae of the LG Twins (right) celebrates his game-winning hit against the Kiwoom Heroes after a 5-4 victory in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on Tuesday in this photo provided by the Twins. (Yonhap)

With the winning run standing 90 feet away in the bottom of the 10th inning, LG Twins outfielder Shin Min-jae walked up to the plate for only the fourth time this season Tuesday night.

The only thing on the mind of the little-used backup was to put his bat on the ball. And he did exactly that with his infield single to second base, which cashed in the decisive run in the Twins' 5-4 victory over the Kiwoom Heroes. It was the Twins' fourth consecutive win in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO).

"I was ready to swing on anything on the inner part of the plate," Shin said afterward. "I wasn't hoping to draw a walk and get on base that way. I just wanted to put the ball in play and take care of business that way."

And to think: the game might not even have gone into extra innings if Shin himself hadn't been thrown out on the bases earlier.

In the bottom of the ninth, Shin came in as the pinch runner and represented the winning run at second base. But he was tagged out trying to steal third base. The Twins challenged the call, but the video replay showed Shin was clearly out.

As fate would have it, Shin got his chance to atone for the baserunning miscue in the bottom 10th and delivered the win for his team.

Shin insisted getting caught stealing didn't bother him one bit.

"I got the green light to go, and if I didn't even attempt the steal, there's no reason for me to be on this team," the speedy player said. "If I find myself in the same situation later, I will do exactly the same thing."

Shin appeared to stumble a bit as he took off from second base but said, "I should have run faster. Everything else is just an excuse."

Shin typically gets into games as a pinch runner and doesn't get to hit much. He could have been forgiven for being a bit rusty with the bat in his hands, but Shin said playing sparingly helps his mindset.

"Because I don't play much, my mind is usually free of all those swing thoughts," Shin said. "I just go up there and try to put the ball in play."

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