A player contemplating retirement after the 2022 season has emerged as a savior. The 38-year-old is not dead.
Jang Won-jun (38, Dusan) started the seventh game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against Hanwha on Saturday at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul and pitched 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball with two walks and three strikeouts to earn his second win of the season and 131st career victory.
He gave up a leadoff single to Jung Eun-won in the first inning, but struck out Chae Eun-sung to end the threat. In the second inning, Noh Si-hwan singled to put runners on the corners, but he got Choi Jae-hoon to fly out to second and Jang Jin-hyuk to ground out to short.
Jang Won-jun gave up the first run of the inning with a 2-0 lead. He faced Lee Jin-young and gave up a double that sailed over the third baseman’s head. Lee Do-yoon followed with a walk and then gave up an RBI single to Moon Hyun-bin. He then struck out Jung Eun-won and Chae Eun-sung to end the inning.
In the fourth inning, the team overcame the threat. After a walk to Noh Si-hwan and a seven-pitch walk to Choi Jae-hoon, Jang Jin-hyuk grounded out to second base and Lee Jin-young struck out swinging to end the inning. With a 4-1 lead in the top of the fifth, Jung Eun-won grounded out to shortstop and Chae Eun-sung struck out on a full count to end the game.
Jang Won-jun took the mound in the sixth inning and got the first batter, Kim In-hwan, to fly out to right field. He was then replaced by Park Chi-guk with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth with a 4-1 lead. He threw 88 pitches. The Doosan fans who filled the first base bleachers applauded lavishly as he walked into the dugout.
Jang Won-jun, who was on the verge of retirement after the 2022 season, was granted an extension after meeting with manager Lee Seung-yup 먹튀검증. On May 23, Jang made his first start since Oct. 7, 2020, against SK (now SSG) in Jamsil, pitching five innings and giving up four runs to become the 11th pitcher in history and the fourth left-hander to win 130 games in 1844 days since May 5, 2018, against LG Electronics.
Jang Won-jun was given his second start of the season after being scratched from the first team. Taking the mound after 13 days of rest, Jang Won-jun pitched more consistently than his Samsung counterpart. With a slider, changeup, and curveball under his new weapon, a 138-kilometer fastball, he was 100 percent effective in his starting duties.
Behind Jang’s strong performance, Doosan defeated Hanwha to sweep the three-game series and snap a two-game losing streak.
After the game, Jang said, “We didn’t have the best overall balance, but I’m glad we got the win. Our starters went down early on the weekend, so I tried to throw the ball a little bit longer. I’m happy that I was able to contribute to the team in a situation where the starting pitching was not good.”