As the weather turns colder, he’s showing the form everyone expected. Lotte Giants free-agent catcher Yoo Kang-nam, 31, shook off the nightmare of the previous day with an offensive and defensive performance.
In the team’s 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League home game against the Samsung Lions at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan on Wednesday, Yoo Kang-nam, batting sixth and catcher, went 3-for-4 with two doubles, three RBIs, one run scored and one walk. His season batting average rose from 0.251 to 0.255.
In his first at-bat, Yoo got on the board. Coming to the plate with one out in the bottom of the second inning, he took a hard-hit ball from Samsung starter Hwang Dong-jae and moved to first base. He advanced to third on a walk by Lee Hak-joo and a single by Kim Min-seok, and came home on a double by Park Seung-wook to take the lead.
In the third and fourth innings, he showed his workhorse side. In the bottom of the third inning, with runners on first and second with his team leading 2-0, Yoo hit a forked ball to center field on a full count. The ball hit the top of the fence directly, sending both runners home.
In the bottom of the fourth, with four runs already scored after six consecutive hits from Park Seung-wook (No. 9) to Noh Jin-hyuk (No. 5), Yoo Kang-nam took advantage of runners on first and third with a single to left field. The runner from third scored and Yoo added another RBI.
Defensively, Yoo combined with starter Charlie Barnes to pitch six innings of one-run ball. The offense was particularly strong, with LOTTE pitchers issuing just three walks in nine innings. It was an offense and defense performance. Behind Yoo’s performance, Lotte went on to win 10-4.
Lotte had lost the previous day’s doubleheader to Samsung, 8-9 and 6-8, respectively. This was crucial as the team had won four straight games to keep their last hopes of a postseason berth alive, but in the second game, Yoo showed lapses in concentration as he gave up 14 four-ball strikes, so the win was significant.
After the game, Yoo Kang-nam commented, “Yesterday (Feb. 2), we had a very hard game, and both us and Samsung players were tired,” adding, “Yesterday, we had 14 walks, so we tried to be as aggressive as possible for the players. 레모나토토 I think the hitters were focused, and the results were good.”
Yoo has been on fire since September. After hitting just .223 on the season as of August 31, he is batting a whopping .404 (23-for-57) since September 1. He also has 14 RBI, second on the team behind Jeon Jun-woo (15). Acting Lotte manager Lee Jong-woon commented on Yoo’s performance, saying, “I think his ability is coming out, and the teammates next to him have been an inspiration.” On this day, the trend continued.
“In the third inning, I didn’t see the ball I was aiming for in the early counts, but in the full count, I set up the strike zone high and swung confidently with the idea of hitting it. I was lucky to get a good pitch, and I was able to capitalize on it,” he said. On his fourth-inning double to left