SEOUL, 5 April (BelTA -Yonhap News). - The Pittsburgh Pirates' South Korean infielder Bae Ji-hwan has gone deep for the first time in his major league career.
Bae launched a two-run home run over the famed Green Monster at Fenway Park in Boston on Tuesday (local time), giving the Bucs a 2-1 lead in the top of the second inning.
Bae, batting eighth and playing second base, smoked a 1-1 fastball from Nick Pivetta to flash some opposite field power, as the ball just cleared the top of the wall in left field.
"When I saw the left fielder running towards it, I thought he was going to catch it," Bae said through a translator, as reported by MLB.com. "But in my mind, I was hoping it was going to go over the wall."
The Pirates went on to win the game 4-1. Bae didn't have a hit the rest of the game, as he struck out swinging in the fourth, grounded out in the seventh and flied out in the ninth.
For the season, Bae is batting .214/.267/.500. Along with the homer, Bae has a double and two stolen bases.
Bae also made a spectacular defensive play in center field in the bottom eighth, after moving from second base as part of several lineup changes in the top half of that inning. On Rafael Devers' hard drive toward the left-center part of the Green Monster, Bae made a leaping catch right up against the green wall.
"The Green Monster, it's a huge wall," Bae said. "I saw it coming, but I just had to leave it to my instinct, and I caught it."
Asked whether he liked his homer over the wall or the catch at the wall better, Bae said, "Homer, because I don't hit too many homers."
Pirates manager Derek Shelton said Bae made a difference in all aspects of the game.
"Offensively, defensively, on the bases, the plays he made defensively, the catch he made late was a great catch," he said. "Overall, really nice game. To get his first home run, oppo, at Fenway, that's kind of a cool thing. It's even cooler when the ball bounces back in play so you're able to get it and he's able to keep it."
The one other South Korean player for the Pirates, Choi Ji-man, got the start as the designated hitter in this game and went 0-for-4. Choi, who was traded by the Tampa Bay Rays to the Pirates last November, is batting only 1-for-12 with five strikeouts in four games for his new club.
This was Bae's 14th career big league game. He made 10 appearances as a late-season callup in 2022, and then made the Opening Day roster at the start of this season.
The ball left Bae's bat at 102 miles per hour and traveled 359 feet at a launch angle of 26 degrees, according to Statcast.